Losing a Parent: 3 Evergreen Tips for Handling the Grief

joyful adult daughter greeting happy surprised senior mother in garden
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Handling the loss of a parent is one of the most challenging things to do in life. Sadness mixed with anger, regrets, confusion, and denial are common emotions. You may find yourself feeling lost without them in your life, wondering what you’ll do with yourself. 

After losing a parent, you might feel

  • guilt, perhaps for not contacting them frequently or not being present for their death
  • anger or frustration
  • confusion, disbelief, or a sense of unreality
  • shock and emotional numbness
  • actual physical pain
  • hopelessness or despair
  • relief that they’re no longer in pain
  • mental health symptoms, including thoughts of suicide or depression

Grief

Grief is never easy, but learning how to deal with it will make it easier to move on with your life. When you are grieving, you may want to withdraw from family and friends to preserve the memories that comfort you. This may be helpful if you believe that being alone will help you heal. However, you must realize that you are doing this to preserve your own sense of worth and survival instincts. If you don’t have someone to talk to about your feelings, you may feel even more isolated than before. So, maybe you could take a couple of days in silence, don’t isolate yourself for a longer duration from your family and friends. 

Dealing with grief is not just about regaining your old way of thinking; it is about finding new ways of thinking that support you during this painful time. People commonly go through periods of mourning and loss. For some, this period can last for weeks, months, or even years. If you are experiencing loss, it is important that you do not become overwhelmed by your grief process, instead pause to gather yourself back up and begin the healing process.

Forgiveness

Upon hearing from the doctor that an estranged parent has passed away, you might feel numb, lost, surprised, or angry by your grief. You might even feel cheated of the chance to address unresolved hurt or past trauma.

Life doesn’t give us the answers we need or the solutions we desire. Sometimes you have to accept preliminary conclusions, however painful or unfinished they feel. Forgive your parents as harboring resentment will only harm you.

  • Take care of your well-being
  • Grief often has a strong impact on our lives. 
  • Your state of mind might shift rapidly, sometimes with a few hours.
  • You might notice more or less of an appetite, sleep problems, irritability, poor concentration, or increased smoking, alcohol, or substance use.
  • You might find it challenging to work, see to your own basic needs and take care of household tasks.

You need to know how to care for yourself. This is not the end of the world. This means eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, sleeping well, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. It is also important that you do not isolate yourself. If you have a close friend or family member that is going through a tough time, encourage them and help them through.

Share memories

Talking to friends, family members, and other close ones about what your parent meant to you and talking about the past and stories with them can help keep their memory honored and alive.

If you have kids, you might tell stories about their grandparents or carry on family traditions that were relevant in your childhood.

It might feel uncomfortable at first to reminisce, but you may find that your pain begins to reduce as the tales start flowing.

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