How to Overcome the Loss of a Parent?

Losing a parent is a life-changing experience. In fact, it’s one of the most profound losses you can endure. You’ve known your parent your entire life, and they had a special kind of love for you. Whether it was sudden or expected, most people have a difficult time adjusting to life without their parent.

If you are grieving the loss of a parent, it’s important to give yourself time to adjust to this new reality. Below are some tips from our hospice experts on how to handle the grief associated with losing a parent.

Recognize that Grief Comes in Many Forms

Not only should you be patient with yourself and the grieving process, but also you should recognize that grief can show up in many different forms. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve. How you grieve and how long it takes will be completely unique to you.

Here are some of the feelings that you may encounter during this healing period:

  • Shock and disbelief
  • Sadness
  • Numbness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Guilt or regret

Let Yourself Feel the Emotions

Some people naturally suppress their thoughts and feelings, but doing this won’t help you heal faster. You may think you’re ‘staying strong,’ but ultimately, you’re not coping with the loss. Let yourself experience whatever emotions come to you without judgment. Allowing yourself to grieve activates healing within the body and makes it easier to overcome your grief. If you don’t do it today, these negative emotions are likely to surface at other times in your life.

Write Your Parent a Letter

If you have a hard time expressing yourself, writing a letter to your parent can be helpful. It’s a way to talk to them and share some of the regrets you may have. When someone passes away, there’s always the chance that you didn’t get to say something you wanted. Writing your parent a letter gives you the opportunity to share these feelings, let them know how much they are loved and what you will do to carry on their legacy.

Join a Grief Recovery Support Group

There are many support groups that specifically tackle grief, and they can be incredibly helpful in supporting the healing journey. While it may seem intimidating to open up to a group of strangers, support groups have proven to be effective at reducing isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety and fatigue.

If your parent was under hospice care, you can ask for their bereavement services, which are typically included for 13 months after a loved one’s passing. VNA Health Group offers grief counseling and bereavement support groups for the family members of our patients, along with memorial services and phone calls.

Find Meaning in Your Loss

Many people feel comfort in finding meaning from their loss. For example, if your parent had a favorite passion or cause, you can donate your time and make a difference. Volunteering and helping others leads to lower rates of depression and anxiety, especially for people 65 and older. It also reduces stress and increases dopamine, the feel-good hormone associated with positive feelings. Other things you can do include:

  • Plant a tree or garden
  • Continue hobbies or work your parent found meaningful
  • Carry on your parent’s legacy through traditions
  • Donate to your parent’s favorite charity
  • Create a memorial website
  • Live your life through lessons learned
  • Take care of your remaining parent

Grief Counseling and Bereavement Support Groups in New Jersey

There is no way to truly overcome the loss of a parent. But it’s important to remember that your parent still lives on through you and the things that you do. Make sure to give yourself time to heal and reach out for bereavement support if you feel you need it. To learn more about the bereavement services available through VNA Health Group, contact us today.


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