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How to Cope with a Parent Passing

Unfortunately, death is a normal part of life.

As we age, our loved ones and parents are aging as well, which can cause anxiety about death or dealing with death. It is said that no amount of research or training will prepare you for the grief and sadness when a parent passes away. Although that may be true, there are ways to deal with a parents’ passing in a positive, constructive and healthy way.

Is What I Am Feeling Normal?

When a parent dies, it can be a foreign feeling at first. Often times, people feel numb or as though they are in a bad dream. It may take anywhere from a few days to a few months for the reality of the situation to set in and for the individual to realize that their parent is indeed gone. It is completely normal to feel sadness, anxiety, denial anger, confusion and/or numbness when dealing with the loss of a parent.

Are My Feelings Going to Hurt Me in the Long Run?

It is important to note that everyone will cope with their parents passing in a different way. Coping with the loss of a parent can be challenging for some, while others may have minimal difficulty moving on and returning to their normal routine. Grief counselors or therapists should be the only individuals that treat grief, as it will vary from person to person. Resources such as group therapy, self-help books and grief meditation can be used to navigate oneself through a very tumultuous and challenging time.

It is important to note that according to studies grief, whether treated or not, puts an individual at an increased risk for mental and emotional issues and illnesses. Such illnesses can include anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Since the trauma of losing a parent is so great, it can trigger other emotional, mental or even physical reactions that can cause individuals to lash out rather than cope with their feelings. For example, an individual dealing with the loss of their mother

Bereavement is not a phase in life that is meant to be rushed, ignored or discarded; as it is a very imperative part of the healing process. In order to full heal from the pain of losing a parent, it is important to embrace every feeling and know that all feelings that are being felt are valid. While dealing with the loss of a parent, seeking professional help allows the individual suffering to have an outlet that will help them understand this phase in their life, navigate their feelings and ultimately heal.

How Can Self-Care Help?

During this time, individuals who are dealing with the los of a parent may feel as though they need to take time to themselves in order to process this very difficult time. Navigating this uncertain phase in life can be challenging, foreign and uncomfortable. Taking time to perform self-care and truly tap into personal needs can bring about a refreshed outlook on the situation and life ahead.

Self-care can come in many different forms for different people, as needs will vary based on the person. Self-care activities can include, but is not limited to:

  • Therapy sessions
  • Massages
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Adult coloring books
  • Sketching or drawing
  • Reading
  • Scrapbooking with memories of your loved one
  • Spending time with family or friends

By taking the time to practice self-care, this can allow the individual suffering with the loss of a parent to take their mind off of reality for a brief moment. Taking care of oneself is imperative to a healthy mind, soul and body. It is important to surrender to the feelings that are being felt during this difficult time, as it is an important step in the healing process to recognize feelings and to validate them. With the help of professional therapists and with the support of friends and family, an individual coping with the death of a parent will come out on the other side of this tragedy stronger than ever.

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