How to cope with the death of a parent

Posted: 16/03/2018

Even if your parents live to a very old age, the death of your parent always remains a shock, coming as a surprise even if we knew that this day would come. For most people dealing with the death of their mother or father is one of life’s biggest challenges, with many describing it as one of the hardest things that they have ever had to go through. Trying to find coping mechanisms to deal with the death of a parent isn’t always the easiest of things to do, and the process of dealing with tends to take time. Here at Perfect Funeral Plans, we take a look at some of the ways that can help you with dealing with grief.

Give yourself time

When it comes to dealing with the death of a parent one of the most important things you need to take into consideration is that there isn’t a ‘right’ period of time to grieve or to stop grieving. Everyone is different, and pressuring yourself to get ‘over’ your parents’ death is not going to help you. In fact, it could end up making you feel worse. Remember that for most people they never truly get over the experience of the death of their parents. Rather, they find a positive way of dealing with it (over time) where they can still continue to go about their daily lives. Giving yourself the time to grieve and the time to move forward when it feels right for you is vital.

Remember it is a process

Linked to our previous point, it is worth noting that grieving is a process, taking a matter of weeks, months or years. This is why giving yourself time is so important, and why you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. It is likely you will be dealing with very intense emotions in the earlier stages of grief, before gradually becoming less so over the coming months.

Don’t feel guilty

Whilst it is completely natural to feel totally devastated to lose a parent, do keep in mind that your parents would want you to be extremely sad for the rest of your days as a result of their death. It is vital that you don’t feel guilty if at some point after the initial stages of grief, you decide to return to doing some of the things that you enjoyed before. Engaging in activities that you did prior to their death doesn’t mean that you have forgotten your parents, or that they mean any less to you. Your parents would want you to be happy.

Take care of yourself

Understandably, many people can feel deep waves of depression as a result of losing a parent. This can have different physical manifestations. Some may lose their appetite completely, struggle to get out of bed, or on the contrary can’t get to sleep at all. However, if possible you should try to invest whatever energy you have to taking care of yourself during this difficult time. Such as:

  • Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night
  • Getting exercise each day, even if just for a 30-minute walk
  • Eat regular healthy meals
  • Do not engage in self-destructive behaviour such as smoking too much, drinking too much alcohol or abusing drugs. They will only make you feel worse and the situation too

Avoid making big life decisions

The death of a parent can shock us to our core, and it can lead us to question everything in our lives. Do we really like our job, do I really love this person, has my life been a lie? Grief works in mysterious ways, but it is commonly accepted that making big life decisions during the initial stages of grieving should be avoided at all costs. When we are grieving, we don’t always tend to think rationally, and acting impulsively during this time could end up being something you will regret at a later point. It is best to think carefully.

Remember your parent

During the grieving process, a way of working through your emotions that you may find helpful is to write down all the memories you have of them. This can help to provide you with a bit of comfort, and also help to keep their memory alive. In addition, having these memories written down means they aren’t forgotten, and you can revisit them should you wish to do so. You may also find asking family members about your parents can help too.

Remember triggers

Many find that there are certain triggers after a parent has died that makes them more prone to feeling extremely sad. This is usually days such as Fathers Day, Mothers Day, special events or birthdays. It is entirely normal to feel down on such occasions, but one way of coping with such situations is to try and surround yourself with others or do something in memory of the parent who has died.

Consider counselling

Whilst it is very important to talk with friends and family members after the death of a parent (and they can help tremendously during this period) it may also be worth considering getting counselling. These people specialise in helping to deal with loss, and it can sometimes be better to have an outsiders perspective on your situation, who is completely removed from your day to day life.  They also may be able to provide new approaches when it comes to dealing with grieving, which could be extremely beneficial if you are struggling to go forward.

Support groups

Another form of support that could help you to deal with the loss of a parent involves attending support groups. Sometimes, there is only so much friends and family can say to help us, or you can end up feeling that you are becoming a nuisance (though we are sure that they view it like this) however, it can be hard to shake this feeling once it has sown a seed in your brain. A way forward then, could be to go a support group where you can share your feelings with others in a similar situation.