How to Navigate Life After Losing a Parent

No matter what age you are, losing a parent will have a profound impact on your life. Parents serve as our lifelines. They represent support, love, encouragement, nurturing, guidance, and the list goes on.

So when you lose a parent, you feel like you’re losing everything you’ve grown accustomed to knowing in this world. It can ultimately feel like you’re losing the safety net that’s been there to catch and support you whenever the need arose.

While it is possible to move through grief and rebuild your life, it’s also important to take the time you need to grieve and understand that grief is not one-size-fits-all. It’s a deeply personal and different experience for everyone.

Plus, there are tools and strategies that can help you better understand what you’re feeling and help you move through grief, whatever that looks like for you.

Give Yourself Space to Feel

There’s no manual on grief, and it can come in waves. You may want to cry one day and scream into a pillow the next. And certain phrases, conversations, or even dates on the calendar can trigger unexpected emotions that hit you all at once.

That’s why it’s essential to give yourself the space you need to feel all of the emotions that come up. Depending on when you lose a parent, certain emotions may be stronger than others. If your relationship with your parent was strained or not on the best terms, you might feel overwhelming guilt, sadness, or anger, wondering if you could have done more or wished that you had more time.

Even if what you’re feeling doesn’t make sense at the moment, your feelings are still valid. So give yourself the time you need to process what you’re feeling.

Talk About Your Parent

Just because they’re gone doesn’t mean that you still can’t talk about them and keep their memory alive. Make who they were a part of your life because it will take time to get comfortable talking about them in the past tense.

Were there traditions that you used to do together? Was there a favorite place you used to visit? Are there old photo albums you can look through?

Find ways that feel right for you to incorporate who your parent was into your life because as time goes on, it can become harder to remember.And if you’re not ready to talk about them out loud, there are other outlets to forge that connection.

Writing or journaling is one way to process and move through grief. Because when you can’t pick up the phone or go to their house to talk to them or ask for advice, you need somewhere to turn.  A journal can be a place for you to finish your conversation with them and tell them what you didn’t get to say.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s no secret that grief can take its toll on you, and every day is different. But you also have a choice – to let the grief you feel overwhelm you or to do something about it. It’s about taking small steps each day to remind yourself that you’re worth being cared for. Whether it’s getting a full eight hours of sleep, moving your body more, or eating healthier, you taking care of yourself matters.

And if you need help, it’s okay to ask for it. Even if others can’t relate to what you’re going through, let them be there for you if they want to be. They might not know what to say, but their presence can go a long way.

Seek Out Support

Grief looks different for everyone. And when you lose a parent, you might even feel like you’ve lost part of yourself. A loss like this can make you question everything.

It’s normal to feel lost and confused about what to do next when that person who was supposed to be there to guide you through life is gone. Life can seem daunting when we have to navigate it on our own and find our place in the world without them. How you want to move forward is within your control and you, ultimately, get to decide who you want to be moving forward.

Talking to a professionally trained counselor – who specializes in grief and loss – can help you process and move through the grief you’re feeling into healing.

Photo credit: Pixabay, Pixel2013