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Dealing with loss of a parent!

02 Mar 2017

One of the most challenging emotion that each one experiences during their lifetime, is the loss of a parent. Whether you had a good, bad or indifferent relationship there is strong sense of loss and dismay. In one of the session, a client explicitly explained “The shock of mom’s death was like a punch to the stomach. For weeks, I couldn’t understand my emotions - confusion, rage and disbelief descended. I felt anchorless, as if I was no longer anyone's child. I may have looked the same but something inside me shifted.”

As children one sees and understands the world from the parent’s eye, having lost them results in profound shift of our perception towards self and others. We are faced with this extremely challenging, but necessary, need to mourn the loss of this significant person in your life. Mourning is a time of sadness, it is an expression of your thoughts and feelings because of a loss. It is an important step for healing.

Realize your grief is unique

Your grief is unique. It is important to realise that each person’s way to express their grief is different. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, advocated that the grieving process includes the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  She stated that although many individuals exhibit these responses to grief, everyone experiences grief differently.

Your particular experience will be influenced by the type of relationship you had with your parent, the circumstances surrounding the death, your emotional support system and your cultural and religious background. Consider taking a "one-day-at-a-time" approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.

Expect to Feel a Multitude of Emotions

There aren’t any “shoulds” with respect with how grief is felt or expressed. The parent-child bond is perhaps the most fundamental of all human ties. It is natural to feel sad, helpless, guilty, anxious, lonely and frightened. Numbness, confusion, fear, relief and anger are just a few other feelings you may have.  All of these feelings are normal, though not pleasant; they are all part of the process of grief.

Sometimes these emotions will follow each other within a short period of time. Or they may occur simultaneously. Most people find the emotions in grief hard to face, and they worry, “If I really let myself feel what I am feeling, I’ll go crazy because it’s unbearable.” 

The key is to accept your feelings, whatever they may be, and not deny them or push them away. This may be very difficult, since it can be quite painful to allow yourself to experience grief.


Reach out

If you’ve never had a loss on this large a scale before, you may feel very disoriented and even find yourself doing or saying things that seem uncharacteristic of you. You may find yourself lashing out at the driver when you’re normally very patient. People tend to generally isolate themselves from others —that is, until they find a friend or two who will listen, books about grief, caring professionals or a support group.

You may want to express your feelings to family members and friends who share treasured memories of your parent. Alternatively, expressing your feelings in a creative way through writing, art or a scrapbook.

You will need to become assertive about your needs, reaching out and letting others know how you’re really doing. Although this may feel hard to do, you will notice a difference: the more support and understanding you receive, the more you’ll realize how normal you really are.

Therapies and the task of grieving

Sometimes people engage in unhelping coping behaviour: avoidance of painful stimuli, or triggers, (such as photographs, favorite restaurants, clothing that smells like the loved one); distraction, such as keeping busy with work; "filling up" the empty space with drugs or food or alcohol; impulsive behavior like moving or quitting work; praying; intellectualizing or thinking about the loss without being emotional; and attaching to other people.

At such times, the family members and friends need to ensure that the person receives professional help. Psychologists have many specialized ways of dealing with grief.

Counselling will help in working through the pain of memories and missing someone, dealing with all the emotions that arise, coping with social and life changes brought on by the loss, detaching from the deceased, accepting support, re-investing energy, letting go, and making a new identity for oneself which includes having lost someone and being a survivor.

Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself. And never forget that the death of a parent changes your life forever.

Grief counseling at ePsyClinic can tremedously help you... If its been a few months and you are still unable to cope, move on, let go of intense and active pain then this indicates Grief turned into Depression. In this case, seek therapy now...

Just type your message in the green chat box on the bottom left and you will be instantly connected to a psychologist privately here at ePsyClinic

Tags: #Grief #Loss