Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Death Of A Parent: What To Expect

The loss of a parent as an adult can be an extremely confusing, challenging time. While everyone will experience the situation differently - we all grieve in our own way, to an extent - there are a few things that can make this difficult situation more manageable, as we have discussed in more depth below. 

1) Accept offers of help for the practicalities 

For adult children, grief can often be overtaken by the sheer number of tasks that suddenly arise following a parents death. From planning the initial funeral to managing estate litigation, there’s simply so much that demands your attention. To help keep everything in hand - and ensure you do not have to overwork yourself while also grieving - accept offers of assistance from friends and family; try to remember that you don’t have to do everything alone. 

2) Consider professional bereavement therapy 

Talking to a therapist about your loss can often be preferable to talking to friends or family, especially if your friends and family are also dealing with their own grief. A therapist is an uninvolved party who can lend an ear and allow you to work through how you are feeling, so it may be worth scheduling a few sessions to see if you find them beneficial.

3) Don’t try to predict your emotions

The emotional response to the loss of a parent can be extremely varied, and tends to differ between people. Some people feel lost, abandoned, or fearful without their parent; others feel more upset, unsure of how to proceed; while others may primarily feel able to focus on celebrating their parent’s life rather than mourning their death. What matters is that all of these responses (and more) are completely valid, and you may cycle between various (and sometimes contradictory) thoughts and feelings every few days or even hours. These changes are all part of the natural grief process, so just try to go with the flow rather than ‘expecting’ to feel a certain way at a certain time.

4) Tell yourself, over and over, that your grief is entirely natural 

It is an unfortunate truth that, societally, the death of a parent is often treated as rather… standard, something that happens to everyone eventually, and is something that any adult child knew to ‘expect’ one day. When combined, all of these ideas can coalesce into a strange sense that a death of a parent is simply not that significant… which couldn’t be further from the truth. Whatever your age, losing a parent is an incredibly difficult experience; it’s okay not to be okay and to grieve for as long as you feel it necessary - remind yourself of this every day, and let your emotions, rather than the expectations of others, be your guide.

You will likely experience many different emotions and thoughts when grieving the loss of a parent, and there’s so much to think about, the whole combination can quickly become overwhelming. Hopefully the advice above can help provide a route through and ensure you can find a way through this trying time - and at your own pace, of course.

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