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How to Cope with the Death of a Parent

Coping with the death of a parent is different. You may feel relief that a long-term illness is no longer causing your parent pain, or you may experience profound sadness when a stroke or heart attack robs you of precious moments and a proper goodbye. When death comes, it’s normal for every emotion, from regret to relief, and surprise to sorrow to swirl together for days, weeks, and months following the passing. You will process the emotions that arise from the death of a parent in your own time. What follows is what you can expect at each stage of the grieving journey.

Dealing with Denial

Mom or dad can’t be dead. Dad was too young. Mom was too smart. They were both too healthy to die. Dad taught you to ride a bike, and mom helped you master algebra. Both bandaged your wounds and wiped away your tears. There is no way your hero could ever die. Whether you are 10, 20, or 50 years old, it’s always hard when your hero’s cape comes fluttering to the ground. Denial functions as a brake on your emotions. When you are dealing with the death of a parent, tapping on this brake can help you process your memories and the emotions they stir at a comfortable pace. As you accept the loss, your questions will begin to mount. Writing these questions down can help you cope as you move forward.

Understanding Anger

Why didn’t I say this? Why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I insist they wear their seatbelt, eat healthier, or stop smoking sooner? Anger is a double-edged sword. One minute you may be angry at the deceased for something they did, and the next you may be angry for something you didn’t do. You may fault God, blame the doctors, or point a finger at another family member. Emotional pain feeds your feelings of anger. It can boil and bubble and decrease just as quickly. At this stage, it’s healthy to review the questions you wrote down earlier. When you do this, you will see how each event and each action influenced the next. It creates a channel for your anger to flow through and disperse.

Bargaining with Death

As you navigate cremation and funeral arrangements, your mind will try and trick you into believing that you can bargain with death. Unfortunately, there is no bargaining with death. This is an “iffy” stage to go through. You will think over a myriad of “what ifs.” “What if we would have gone on that vacation?” “What if mom had found the lung cancer earlier?” “What if dad would have come to live with us in Florida instead of the nursing home?” Your “what if’s” are often tied to regrets. For most people, directly dealing with these is the most effective strategy for putting them to rest. Answer these questions but do so with the acknowledgment that you can’t change your actions; you can only learn from them. Looking at it from that perspective will help you accept that the passing is final and that the only path to travel is the one where you apply those lessons going forward.

Defending Against Depression

Depression can lead to death, and death can lead to depression. Talking, staying active, and surrounding yourself with close friends and beloved family can help keep you from sinking into a depressive state. If these aren’t available, or they’re not helping, seek out professional counseling. A counselor can help you understand your emotions and help you develop effective strategies that work for you.

Accepting the New Reality

You’ve reached the acceptance stage when you can say, “It’s ok,” and, “I’m ok.” This may take a day, a month, or maybe a decade. There is no right or wrong time to reach this point. Your life is forever changed when mom or dad passes away. Accepting and embracing this realization signifies that you are ready to move forward.

Navigating The Loop

The grieving process is non-linear. You may find yourself going through these stages in random order for days, weeks, months, or even years after a parent passes. Special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays can trigger the emergence of the entire range of emotions. This is normal and a sign that your mind continues to process the passing. Contact Florida Family Cremations to Ease this Process Contact Florida Family Creations for more information about our cremation pre-planning services we offer in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Manatee counties. It’s our pleasure to tell you more about everything from our cremation services for veterans, to the support we provide to friends and family of the deceased as you go through the grieving process.