Coping With The Death Of A Parent
As we reach adulthood, we gain a deeper understanding of the concept of mortality. We know that we will all pass away eventually, and we’ve been taught that our parents predeceasing us is to be expected - part of the natural order of things. Understanding this idea intellectually, however, does not change the fact that the death of a parent can be very emotionally intense. Whether or not their death is sudden or the result of a prolonged illness, and no matter how close or distant we feel are with our parents, losing them can have a profound impact on our short- and long-term outlook. Let’s discuss coping with the death of a parent below.
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How Can I Prepare For The Death Of A Parent?
Perhaps the best thing you can do is accept the fact that you probably can’t fully prepare yourself for such a significant event. Even if you know that your parent is nearing the end of their life and that their passing is not unexpected, it will still be challenging to process when it eventually happens. If their death is sudden, the feeling of shock will likely be intensified.
Some people find that assisting in the logistics of their parent’s end-of-life plans (ensuring that their will is up-to-date, helping to put financial details in order, purchasing caskets, cemetery plots and so on) helps them to make some peace with the situation and perhaps feel a little more control over something that seems emotionally uncontrollable. Others try to maximize the time they spend with that parent, so that they can have some meaningful last conversations (if possible).
What Are Some Ways Of Coping With The Death Of A Parent?
Below are a few tips for navigating the aftermath of a parent’s passing.
Expect to feel overwhelmed. When your parent passes away, you’re likely to experience a range of emotions - from shock and anger to grief, anxiety and depression. How many emotions you feel (as well as when you feel them and in what order) may vary, but understand that these reactions are completely natural, and part of the grieving process. Don’t feel as though you have to repress them or act as though they aren’t valid; the more you allow yourself to process your emotions, the better you will be able to heal from the trauma.
Practice self-care. Grief can have a tangible effect on your health, with symptoms ranging from sleeplessness and loss of appetite to headaches, stomach aches and panic attacks. And while it may feel difficult or even indulgent to take extra care of yourself when you’re trying to come to terms with such a life-changing situation, remind yourself that feeling healthy physically will help you to better manage your emotional well-being. Try to eat well, get enough rest and do some light exercise if you can.
Talk (or write) through your feelings. Whether you’re confiding in family members, a close friend or a therapist, expressing your emotions can be therapeutic. You can also consider joining a support group and talking through your feelings with others who are also experiencing the loss of a parent. Some people find keeping a journal helpful as well.
Have a plan for anniversaries. After losing a parent, you may find certain occasions such as holidays and that parent’s birthday emotionally challenging. This is especially true in the first year after a parent’s death, because it is the first time you are experiencing those occasions without your loved one present. One idea is to make a plan - either with family, friends or on your own - to honor your parent in some special way on those anniversaries. Whether it’s by doing something you know that your parent loved doing (hiking, visiting a museum, making a favorite dish) or starting a brand new tradition, commemorating their life can help you feel more connected to them. (And if you don’t feel up to doing anything specific, that’s okay too.)
- Ask for help if you need it. If you feel as though the weight of your grief is becoming too difficult to manage, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance, especially from a mental health professional. Many therapists specialize in grief counseling and can provide you with the tools and support you need to heal.
How Can I Cope With The Death Of A Parent If We Didn’T Have A Close Relationship?
If you and your parent were estranged, coping with their death will still be emotional, even if your grief manifests itself in different ways. Perhaps you feel guilty for not being as close to them, or regretful that you were not able to resolve certain differences before their passing. Know that all of these feelings are understandable and that you have every right to grieve in whatever form that grief presents, no matter what your relationship with your parent looked like.
When coping with the death of a parent, remember to be patient with yourself. Grief is not a linear progression - you will have better and worse days as you process the loss. By allowing yourself to experience every emotion, taking care of yourself and talking to others, you can begin to chart a peaceful path forward in this new reality.Do you have other questions about mourning and grief? Titan Casket is here to provide all the answers you need.