Coping With the Death of a Parent

In an article entitled “Five Ways to Cope With Your Parent’s Death” by Elizabeth Kiefer and featured on Vice, Kiefer writes about how the death of a parent can be complicated and deeply felt. She remarks: “Factors such as how close you are with your parent, what stage you are at in your own life, and how you connected you felt every day will shape the way you feel in the aftermath of that death.”

In addition to giving yourself time to process (the year of firsts is very important in grief), as well as connecting with others who have also lost a parent, she gives a couple of points that resonated with me:

  • Have a plan for the days that will be especially intense. “You may want to decide that on your mother’s birthday, or on Mother’s Day, you’re going to bake her favorite recipe, or that on the Fourth of July, when your dad was king of the grill, you’ll have a beer on his behalf. There is a lot of room between doing something totally different and celebrating the holidays in the usual family tradition.”
  • Find ways to keep your parent’s presence in your life. “You may find that other people don’t know how to talk to you after you’ve lost parent—it can help to tell them. Looking through photos, listening to voicemails, and watching family videos are completely normal in the aftermath of a loss.”

Grief is a process in which we must integrate our feelings of loss into our story. The intensity of grief will always be affected by how close we were to our loved one and can be affected by an underlying feeling that we “should be better.” Understanding that it takes time and effort to integrate grief is an important first step in finding ways to find peace and closure.

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