No matter how old you are, there is nothing that can prepare you for the grief of losing a parent. Even those who had a troubled relationship with their deceased parent find themselves blindsided by the symptoms of grief. When losing a parent, following these tips can help keep you sane during the difficult first few months.
Get Help with the Estate
It is not often that adult children have the luxury of leaving their parent’s home unattended after they pass. If your parent was renting, you often need to have their possessions out by the end of the month. A house usually needs to be sold to settle the estate. This means the extremely difficult process of sorting through years of your parent’s belongings is in your future while the grief is still fresh. In these instances, it is helpful to get a close friend to help you sort through these things and pack them up. If you just do not feel ready to deal with your parent’s belongings immediately after the funeral, hire a moving company to pack and transport the things to a storage unit, like those at North Star Mini Storage. This is an inexpensive way to put off the process of going through their things until you are ready. You can hold the storage unit for months or even years. Somewhere down the line you may even find it therapeutic to relive memories by sorting through clothes, photos and letters.
Join Group Therapy
The pain of recent grief is often so powerful you forget that you are not alone. People lose their parents every day. Seeking out those who have also recently lost a parent is helpful for working through the process. While everyone has a different cycle of grief5, you may find relief in seeing the stages you are experiencing mirrored in others. Find a therapist that offers a support group for adult children who have just experienced the death of a parent. Talking about your feelings with the guidance of a counselor will give your pain a place to come out. By speaking honestly about your feelings, you also have the opportunity to help others in the group heal. There is nothing quite so restorative as relating your struggles to those who know exactly what you are going through.
Be Prepared for Holidays
As anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows, holidays and significant dates can make your grief6 reappear as strong as it was in the time immediately following the death of your parent. Brace yourself for holidays, anniversaries and birthdays. It is a good idea to take these days off at work, and schedule an event to help you remember your parent. You may choose to visit their grave, go to a location that was special to them or meet up with close friends. Having an event in which to channel your grief7 will help you get through these hard days.
Grief8 is a natural emotion
Always remember to let yourself grieve in whatever way feels right to you. There is no prescribed way for showing the loss you feel for your parent. Grief9 is like a roller coaster and there’s never a way to be fully prepared. Just remember to take it one day at a time and reach out to your support group.