Nothing can prepare you for the finality of death, especially for the loss of a parent. Losing a parent can mean losing a best friend, supporter, and mentor. The permanent physical loss of this connection is, for many, unimaginable. The initial emptiness may leave you feeling stuck, but healthy grieving can bring a sense of peace and comfort, knowing your loved one can remain a positive force in your life.
Steps in Grieving the Loss of a Parent
The grieving process varies from person to person. Not everyone will grieve the same, and not everyone will follow the same steps or experience the same feelings. Take time to uncover what works for you. Below are a few suggestions:
Remember, what you feel is valid.
Everyone grieves in their own way. Whether you're experiencing frustration, depression, or other emotions, the method in which you grieve—and the feelings you have—are valid. Grief opens up a gateway of complex and conflicting emotions that change your outlook. You can't control the grieving process or how you'll feel. Be kind to yourself and know that your reactions to loss are natural, no matter what you're feeling or thinking.
Allow yourself to feel the loss.
Take your time. Grieving is a uniquely personal experience, and there is no set timetable for how long grief should last—especially when it comes to losing a parent. Remember, you are allowed to take all the time you need to heal. You may feel like you’ll never fully heal or recover, and that's natural. But never feel rushed to be better again. Take the time you need, not the time others expect.
Take care of yourself.
The death of a loved one not only affects mental health, but it can also impact physical health. While loss can leave you reeling, never forget to continue caring for your own needs. Getting adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise can help you stay healthy and manage stress. If it feels difficult, establishing a daily self-care routine can help.
Ask for help if you need it.
You don’t have to process your grief alone. Speaking with friends and family can provide valuable support and comfort, but if you’re feeling stuck or misunderstood, consider professional resources like a counselor, therapist, or support group. A grief support group offers emotional support from a bereavement or grief counselor and the chance to connect with others who have also recently experienced a loss. Learn more about the stages of grief and what to expect when coping with a loss.
Books on Grief and Loss of a Parent
There are a variety of books on how to cope with grief and the loss of a parent. Taking time to read about the experiences of others and how they managed their grieving journey can open a pathway to help you understand your own. How To Survive the Loss of a Parent by Lois F. Akner Always Too Soon by Allison Gilbert and Christina Baker Kline The Orphaned Adult by Alexander Levy
No Matter What by Debi Gliori At The Love Always Project, we understand that grieving varies from one person to another. Access our grief, loss, and bereavement resources to help you navigate these complex emotions. Learn more about our mission to help others discuss end-of-life issues or join the movement.