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Grieving and coping with the loss of a parent

The death of a parent is a shattering experience, leaving scars, and making us feel suddenly vulnerable. The journey through grief can be a transformative experience, helping to heal and helping to develop new perspectives. According to "Losing a Parent" by Alexandra Kennedy, a healthy grieving process can have several steps, and they can occur in any order. Following are a few of these steps:

Acknowledge the power of the event of death. Don't resist the forces of emotions.

Take time to honor your grief. Create a place in your home where you can comfortably allow yourself to fully grieve for a few minutes each day.

Address any unfinished business with your parent. Now is the time to allow old wounds to heal.

Create new family patterns. Take advantage of this new opportunity for change by developing systems for family interaction.

Tell friends what you need from them; accept help when offered.

Learn to be your own parent. Nurture and care for yourself. Examine the expectations you had of your parents; this time is an opportunity to explore your own life and its direction.

Ask yourself: "What do I value? What are my beliefs? Where am I going in my life?"

Don't pressure yourself to get "back to normal." The grieving process is dictated by its own rhythm and will ebb and flow. Grief may well up suddenly, even years after the loss.

Allow yourself to withdraw when you need to; grief takes a long time to heal.

Do something special to acknowledge and commemorate the anniversary of the death.

Celebrate the changes and new perspectives in your life. When you feel ready, act on new ideas and insights.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.

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