Grieving a Parent

Grief is different for each person and there’s no right or wrong way to mourn a parent. There’s no handbook to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do and it’s impossible to predict what your journey with grief will look like. It can be a lonely path to walk but there are ways to ease the suffering and pain of family bereavement.

Here are ten ideas that may help you.

  1. Acknowledge your emotions and accept whatever you feel, whether it’s anger, sadness, loneliness, relief, or possibly even happiness. There should be no guilt or shame in your emotional responses.
     
  2. Write in a journal. Many people find it very therapeutic to express feelings in writing. You may find poetry or stories will start to flow that make meaning of your experience with grief and the relationship you had with your mom or dad.
     
  3. Honor your relationship with your parent in a way that’s personal and meaningful to you. You may want to create something in their memory such as a quilt or scrapbook to commemorate your special bond.
     
  4. Continue to celebrate their birthday, wedding anniversary, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.  Raise a toast or indulge in a treat that you always shared together.
     
  5. Keep traditions alive – or not. It’s okay to make changes to how special occasions were celebrated if you feel that a fresh start will help you adjust to your new normal.
     
  6. Talk about your parent and let others know it’s okay to bring up stories from years gone by. Many times, people shy away from mentioning their name because they’re afraid it will upset you or make you sad. Display keepsakes or mementos of their life to stimulate happy conversations.
     
  7. Attend a local or online support group. There’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Talking with others who are going through a similar experience can ease the feeling of isolation that often comes during an intense time of grief.
     
  8. Get help from a therapist or counselor if you struggle with depression or extreme feelings of hopelessness. A professional will be able to offer strategies to get you through this difficult time in your life.
     
  9. If you’re a spiritual or religious person, use your faith as an anchor and find solace in scriptures, music, or prayer.
     
  10. Practice self-care. The emotional roller coaster of grief can take its toll so pay attention to both your physical and mental health and treat yourself with the loving kindness and compassion you deserve.

Even though the death of a parent is a natural loss in life, it’s an unprecedented change and disruption to a relationship you’ve had since birth. Take the time you need to navigate your bereavement journey, try different strategies for dealing with grief and surround yourself with the invaluable support of professionals, friends or others who understand your experience.

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