How To Deal With The Loss Of A Parent

How To Deal With The Loss Of A Parent

Today would be my dad’s 83rd birthday if he was still alive today but we lost him 10 years ago. It feels like it  was just yesterday and I think time does not make me forget but it does make the pain easier to handle. I don’t feel that the pain of his loss is gone its just different. He was a great man and fantastic father. I learned so much from him and I hope that I can be half the man he was for this word, half the father he was to me and my sisters. I have learned over time how to deal with the loss but I am sure some have an easier time than me and others a much worse time. He is still looking out for me and my children I truly believe that.

Some Great Tips For Dealing With Loss Of A Loved One

Dealing with the death of your parent may be the hardest thing you ever have to do in your life. Though you won’t ever be able to truly “get over” it, there are many steps that you can take in order to honor your parent’s memory while being able to go on with your daily life. The important thing is that you should give yourself time to process the loss and avoid being hard on yourself if you think it’s taking “too long” for you to deal with your parent’s death. There is no timeline for grief, and you’ll be able to move forward when you’re ready.


Accepting Your Feelings

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    Grieve at your own speed. Don’t be too hard on yourself and impose a timeline for getting over your loss. The Victorians took two to four years to mourn a death. While that doesn’t have to be you, don’t expect to be ready to get back into the swing of things after a few weeks, a month, or however much time you think you need. Instead, be patient with yourself and let go of the expectations you may have for yourself.

    • Try to keep in mind that grieving is a process. You’ll probably be grieving in some way for a long, long time, though hopefully it won’t always be this intense. Work through it in your own time.
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    Accept that your parent would want you to keep living. Though it’s normal to be depressed, remember that your parent loved you and wouldn’t want this event to cripple your life forever. As you work through the loss, try to get back into doing the things you enjoyed before. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it doesn’t mean that you should forget about the fact that your parent was happiest when you were happiest. This doesn’t mean you have to sweep all of your negative feelings under the rug, but it does mean that you should make an effort to keep enjoying the little things as much as you can.

    • Of course, if you feel completely devastated by the loss and unable to get back into the swing of things right away, don’t let the memory of your parent make you feel guilty about not getting back on your feet.
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    Remember your parent. They will always have been a big part of your life no matter what, even if they have passed away. Write down your memories together because as you go on you probably don’t want to forget those moments in your life. You just have to know that they will never leave that place in your heart. Take comfort in the memories you have of that person without obsessing over not remembering every little thing. Just do the best you can.[1]

    • You can talk to the people who also knew your parent about him or her to keep the memory alive. You can also tell stories about the parent to people who did not know him or her, from time to time.
    • You can also ask family members questions about your parent to help understand all of his or her life experiences. This can add a new layer to your relationship with your parent, and can make your memory of your parent even more vivid.
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    Take care of yourself. Be a little more gentle on yourself than you usually would. Take extra time to relax, try to find constructive distractions, and shut down any self-criticism for now. Though you may be filled with too much grief to care about your own well-being, it’s important to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep, eat three healthy meals a day, and to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. It’s likely that you’ll be in need of energy because of your loss, and keeping your body in order will help you not feel so sluggish.

    • Of course, sleeping and eating well won’t help you forget your parent completely. But it will make it much easier for you to go about your daily life while dealing with your loss.
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    Know your triggers. It’s important to be aware of when you’ll be the most upset and to know that you’ll need extra support. For example, if you lost your father, you may need to spend some extra time with your loved ones on Father’s Day; if you lost your mother, then you may get upset during certain activities, like shopping, that you traditionally did with your mother. Knowing what will make you upset will help you prepare to not be alone during those times.[2]
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    Don’t get too hung up on the five stages of grief. It’s true that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, but that doesn’t mean that you have to neatly go through each of those stages in order to truly deal with the loss of your parent. You may be angry or depressed first, feel denial later, or bargain after you feel depression, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone grieves in his or her own way, at his or her own time.[3]
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    Avoid making any big decisions at first. Your parent’s death may make you realize that your marriage is a lie, that your career is meaningless, or that you should drop everything and become a pineapple farmer in Hawaii. While all of these realizations may be true, you should avoid doing anything impulsive or acting on them until you feel ready to make a rational decision. Making big changes in your life probably won’t help you get over your parent’s death any faster, and you may end up doing something that you regret.

Getting Support

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    Talk to a close friend. Nobody should be alone during a time of grief. When you’re dealing with the loss of a parent, you may want to spend all of your time alone, curled up in a little ball. It’s okay to have some alone time for a while, but eventually, you should make an effort to see some of your friends. It’ll help you to socialize, get outside your own head, and have someone who can help you deal with your feelings. Make an effort to see the friends who care about you instead of shutting them out.

    • Remember that your friends are likely at a loss too, and they may not know exactly what to do or say. Appreciate the fact that they’re trying.
    • This doesn’t mean you should hit up the clubs or go to your best acquaintance’s 30th birthday boozy brunch; you don’t have to go out in big groups if you’re not up for it yet.
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    Talk to a family member. Talking to a family member after the loss of one of your parents can be one of the best ways of finding support. If you’ve lost one parent but still have another, spend as much time with that parent as you can. Your parent will be grieving, too, and will likely need your support. Though being around other family members may be painful because it will remind you of your loved one, it’s far better than being alone with your pain.

    • Talking about your parent can help you ease the pain, too. You may not be ready to talk about that person, at first, but after a while, talking about him or her will make you feel better.
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    Consider getting help from a grief counselor. Some therapists or counselors specialize in helping people deal with loss. If you feel like your grief is trapping you and preventing you from moving forward, you might want to contact someone for help. Though talking to your friends or family members can be a big help, sometimes getting the perspective and aid of a person outside of your personal situation can help you take a new approach to your life. Therapy is definitely not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you should be skeptical of trying this approach.

    • A grief counselor may also be able to suggest some new approaches for dealing with your grief. Though there’s no one magical solution, getting multiple opinions can help you find the right path.
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    Join a support group. There are many support groups for people who have suffered the loss of a parent. You may feel like there is only so much your friends, or even your other parent or other beloved family members can say, because they cannot completely relate to how you are feeling. Don’t be embarrassed about needing some outside help, and look into support groups in your area. You may meet people who are crucial to helping you move forward.
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    Find comfort in your faith. If you’re religious, then spending more time at your organization of choice, whether it’s a church or a synagogue, can also help you think of the bigger picture and to help you in your grieving process. Your organization likely has plenty of events, from barbecues to volunteer activities that you can participate in, and you can try to be active within your organization to spend some time with like-minded people and working for a greater good.
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    Consider getting a pet. Though you may think this is ridiculous advice, no one is saying that a kitten is going to replace your mother or your father. However, taking care of a pet can make you feel good and needed, and like you’re less alone, and can bring you a tremendous amount of joy. If you’re feeling very lonely, and especially if you’ve been talking about getting a cat or a dog for a while, then you should go to your local pet shelter and bring home a puppy or a kitten to take care of.[4]

Returning to Your Life

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    Break up your routine. Once you get back into the swing of things, start mixing it up. If you do the same thing you always did, then you’re more likely to keep mourning your parent during certain times of the day. Find a way to switch up your schedule, whether it means going to a new coffee shop to do work, or spending the time you spent on the phone with your mom doing yoga. This doesn’t mean you should avoid doing anything that reminds you of your parent, but it does mean that changing your daily schedule can make you move on faster.

    • Try something completely new. If you want to break up your routine, take that painting class you’ve been meaning to take, grab some coffee with the neighbor who has been asking you to hang out, or even catch up on the last season of The Good Wife. Treat yourself. It doesn’t even have to be something that will improve your mind or body.
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    Do the things you used to love. Though it’s good to mix it up, it’s also important to return to your favorite activities if you want to come close to feeling whole again. Whether you loved to paint, write poetry, or work at your local soup kitchen, don’t deny yourself your favorite activities just because you think you’re too sad to do them. Soon you’ll see that you can find some happiness — even if only a little bit — in doing your favorite things.

    • If you don’t have the heart to do something you used to do with your parent, such as hiking or running, bring a friend along if you really want to get back into it.
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    Avoid the alcohol for a while. This is not the time to drink heavily and hit up the dance floor with your girlfriends. Though it may make you forget your problems for a little while, alcohol is a depressant, and it may make you feel worse, whether it’s when you’re coming down from it in the moment, or the next day. You can have a drink or two if you’re feeling up to it, but try not to alter your mental state too much. And if you’re thinking about taking prescription drugs to deal with the pain, talk to your doctor about whether or not this is a good idea for you.
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    Get busy (but not too busy). Try to fill your schedule with as many meaningful activities as possible. Attempt to see a friend at least a few times a week, and to do something social as often as you’re feeling up to it. Make sure, also, to leave the house at least twice a day, no matter what. It’s also important that you spend time working or being in school, exercising, and doing the things that matter to you. If something fun is coming up, mark it on your calendar, so you have something to look forward to. Having a busy and active life will make you feel better about everything, even if you have to motivate yourself to keep going strong a bit.

    • This doesn’t mean that you should force yourself to be busy 24/7 so you don’t have time to sit and think about your parent. Instead, make sure that you do factor in some alone time into your schedule. As long as not all of your time is alone time, it’s important to have some time to be alone with your thoughts, even if they aren’t happy ones.
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    Spend time on soothing activities. It’s important to focus on doing some relaxing things as you go through the process of grieving. This is the time to spoil yourself a little, and to spend time doing things that make you feel better, even if only a little bit better. Here are some things you can do:

    • Write your thoughts down in a journal. Writing daily can help you get in touch with your thoughts.
    • Try yoga or mediation. This can help you center your mind and your body.
    • Spend time out in the sun. Get out of that coffee shop and go read outside instead. A little bit of sunshine and fresh air can go a long way.
    • Reread your favorite novels. Take comfort in them.
    • Listen to some soothing music. Nothing too jarring, please.
    • Go for walks. Get some exercise while getting in touch with your thoughts.
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    Be patient with yourself. As you start enjoying your life again, make sure not to overburden yourself. It really can take months or years to even begin to feel like your old self again, and it’s important not to rush it. As long as you have goals and are looking toward the future, it’s okay to take the smallest baby steps toward your new life without your parent. You should know that while you’ll never be able to fully get over your loss, you will be able to develop a new relationship with the parent you lost, in time.

    • Don’t force it. Listen to what your mind and heart is telling you. If you’re not ready to make big moves yet, then take your time. This is far better than overexerting yourself and crashing. The important thing is to know that things will get better, even if it takes a long time.
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