Although death is a natural and inevitable part of life, for those of us left behind in the wake of a loved one’s passing, it can be extremely difficult. It is especially difficult when that loved one happens to be a parent. No matter what your relationship is with them, losing a parent is always a life-changing event.
For those reading this who have already experienced parental loss, we send our sincerest sympathies. There is also a list of helpful resources at the end for anyone who needs support with grief and coping.
1. You Become More Anxious
Stressful situations become harder to deal with, as well as ordinary responsibilities seem overwhelming. It becomes clear that you’re worrying more. And research shows that people who’ve experienced grief from losing a parent are more likely to struggle with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
2. You Can’t Deal With People Complaining About Their Parents
Normally people complaining about their parents wouldn’t faze you, but suddenly you’re finding yourself annoyed by their negative remarks. It’s natural to wish you could give anything for those long-winded voicemails, family recipes, and embarrassing nicknames. It’s part of the healing process.
3. You Feel the Grief in Your Body
It is as if every cell in your body is dealing with the trauma of losing your parent. And in a way it is, because a person can actually get physically sick from grief. Men are at a higher risk experiencing a dip in their wellbeing after losing a parent. While you grief don’t forget to take care of yourself. The healing process isn’t just an emotional or spiritual one, it’s also a physical one.
4. You Learn to Live with Sadness
Grief has many different stages. You will be on a journey as you come to realize that you’ll never stop missing your parent, but you’ll one day learn to embrace their absence. However, there will still be good days and bad days along the way. But eventually you’ll be able to move forward. However, if you experience severe grief that doesn’t seem to let up after some time, then it may be a good idea to seek medical help.
5. Holidays Have Changed
For most of us, we learned how to celebrate the joy of holidays from our parents. When they are no longer around, the holidays and special occasions suddenly feel lonely. But as time passes, you will learn how to create new meaningful ways of celebrating the holidays without your parents.
6. You Learn to Accept Their Flaws
When you were young, your parents were your heroes, and flawless. But as you aged, you realized that they were regular people, just like you. After they’re gone you’ll find yourself coming to terms with their flaws and mistakes, and eventually you’ll be able to forgive them and see them in a new light.
7. Your Emotions Become Complicated
Grief is comes in many stages, you can find yourself experiencing sadness, guilt, anger, fear, relief, and numbness all within the space of a couple minutes. Don’t shy away from negative emotions, they’re a part of the healing process.
8. Your Relationship with Your Siblings Changes
Every family unit has its own dynamic, usually held in place by the parents. For some families, when they experience the loss of a parent the grief can sometimes cause conflict between siblings. Sometimes it can also lead to healing broken relationships. Either way, it’ll be a healing process within the family and if you can, rely on each other to support one another through the loss.
9. You Catch Yourself Trying to Call Them
One of the most heartbreaking experiences following the loss of a parent is picking up a phone to call your parent regarding either some good news or needing advice, only to realize that they won’t be on the other end.
10. You Learn How Strong Love Is
It is bittersweet when you realize that the love you have for your parent really goes on. It’s a comfort in your sadness, and as you reflect on the times you shared with your parents, you’ll come to appreciate the love you shared with them. And this will help you get through the tough days.
If you need any support, see the following resources resources:
Grief.com (USA) www.grief.com
My Grief Angels (USA, Canada) www.mygriefangels.com
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health crisis, please reach out to a crisis line in your area. Here are some helpful numbers:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-8255
Depression Hotline (USA): 1-866-208-4949
Crisis Text Line (USA): 741741
For life-threatening crises, call 9-1-1.