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How to Cope With the Death of a Parent

How to Cope With the Death of a Parent

No matter how much you have prepared yourself, the death of a parent is devastating to adult children. If you were your parent’s caregiver, the death can take an even greater toll because of the responsibility caregivers often feel for their parents. Adult children who were caregivers may feel guilt or accountability for their parent’s death. After a parent dies, it’s important to ensure that your mental and physical health does not suffer. Taking steps to better cope with the death of a parent can aid in the healing process. 

Steps That Help with the Loss of a Parent

A 2007 study in the Journal of Family Issues found the death of a parent commonly causes depression, decreased self-esteem, and reduced psychological wellness in adult children. The findings also indicated that the death of a parent can lead to self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse and binge drinking. Taking the right precautions after the loss of a parent can keep you from heading down the wrong road. Some actions that can help you cope include

  • Allowing yourself to grieve: Remember that it’s normal to feel extreme emotions after the death of a parent. Allow yourself to feel sadness, pain, anger, or any other emotion you may be experiencing. Do not stifle or ignore your grief.
  • Paying attention to your health: It may be difficult, but try not neglect your health while grieving the loss of a parent. Remember to eat, drink plenty of water, and rest. A visit to your doctor for a checkup may also be a good idea.
  • Reaching out to friends and family: Remember that you don’t have to go through grief alone. Reach out to members of your support system for help, guidance, and comfort. Some loved ones can provide advice, while others can simply offer you company during this difficult time.
  • Planning for dark days: There are some days that may be harder than others, such as the holidays or your parent’s birthday. Consider how you want to remember your mom or dad on that day and plan accordingly. Including friends and relatives in the special celebration or remembrance may be helpful. 
  • Joining a support group: A grief counselor or support group may provide great comfort to you after the death of a parent. There are many ways to find support groups online or ask family and friends for recommendations. Community groups are another way to stay involved and meet people experiencing similar ordeals. 

If you would prefer to deal with your grief alone, there are many good books that can provide solace after a parent’s death. Books such as Grieving the Death of a Mother and On Grieving the Death of a Father, by Harold Ivan Smith offer insight on the death of a parent and ways to heal. Another suggestion is When Parents Die: Learning to Live with the Loss of a Parent. Taking steps to take care of yourself can help bring you peace of mind and assist you in healing.

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