Have you recently experienced the loss of a parent and find yourself struggling to cope with the grief?
One common myth about the loss of a parent is that it shouldn’t hurt so badly if it happens when you’re older. Such notions just further complicate the grief process for older adults who lose a parent.
Because of faulty ideas like this, grown children can become shocked by how deeply they’re affected by such grief. But, it’s important to remember that losing a parent is extremely tough regardless of what age you are when it happens.
As you wrestle through your loss, here are some things to keep in mind that can help.
There’s No Magic Grief-Eradication Button
Maybe saying there’s no “quick fix” feels more like a hindrance than a help for your grief but that isn’t entirely accurate. Having a healthy idea of what the grief process could look like will help more than going into it “blind”.
It’s completely understandable to want the pain to go away as quickly as possible or even instantly. That’s just human nature. “I’d like another big slab of pain served up ASAP,” said no one ever.
Although there’s no instant recipe to make your grief go away, facing your grief head on will lead to a healthier grief process.
Attempting to deny grief has a way of prolonging and complicating the process.
The hurt that you’re feeling will take time to work through but your situation can improve over time simply by facing it.
Remember That Everyone Grieves Differently
It’s unhelpful to compare your grief to others like your siblings or friends that have lost a parent. First, everyone’s grief process is different and, secondly, there are too many variables at play to make a helpful comparison anyway.
The gender of children grieving for their parents also tends to make a difference. For instance, sons generally grieve more deeply for their fathers. Conversely, daughters tend to struggle more with the loss of their mother.
Feelings such as despair, sadness, numbness, shock and anger are common, across-the-board emotions for children who lose their parents. These grief emotions often hit in waves with the no discernible pattern, meaning everyone’s experience will be different. There are also varying intensities felt among mourners and the duration of grief differs from person to person.
The final thing that further ensures that grief will be anything but a “cookie-cutter experience” is that we all react to the pain of such an immense loss in vastly different ways. Those reactions, at their most intense moments, not only shock those closest to us—they also can surprise ourselves.
Consider Joining a Support Group
Grief wasn’t meant to be endured alone. That said, the well-meaning comments of others who don’t understand your grief struggles can really sting.
That’s why it’s a good idea to consider attending a support group with people going through grief. It can feel good to help others through their struggles and to receive encouragement.
This also allows the opportunity to grieve authentically without some of the pressures that may exist in your family unit. You’ll be freer to grief in the way that works best for you. The process of grief is very personal and even sacred and shouldn’t be hindered by people who don’t understand you.
You can ask around your local community, do some research online or get in touch with your local therapist to find out more. Or, you can search for online support groups that you can take part in remotely.
Take Good Care of Yourself While Grieving
Now is an important time to pay attention to your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellness. Although you want to be careful not to live in denial of your loss, work at maintaining a schedule and to make your health a high priority. Doing so will allow you to better handle grief.
Things Can Get Better and Grief Can Turn You into a Better Person
Although the loss of a parent is extremely troubling, things can get better in time with the proper support and resources.
Grief can also turn you into a more loving and compassionate person as you work through it in a healthy way. Although no one would want grief and understandably so, it can have a positive, transformative effect that can enrich the lives of those around you.
In line with the notion of the refining effects of grief, psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had this to say:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”
Counseling Can Greatly Help with Your Grief Process
Lastly, seeing a counselor can help you to work through the complicated emotions of grief. This step is also helpful if you find yourself stuck in a grief cycle that’s taking longer than you expected.