Pretty much everyone dreads the day one or both of their parents passes away. Age doesn’t matter. Even if your 7 or 70, the death of a parent changes you in ways you never imagined it would. If you’ve already lost one or both of your parents, I am deeply, deeply sorry for your loss. Death is something you can never quite shake. Especially if it involves some really close to you. At the end of this article are some resources to help you cope with your grief. I wish you a healthy recovery process.
How losing a parent changes you:
1. You Become More Anxious
When you’re learning to cope with grief, everyday stress becomes even harder to bear. You begin to worry about your family and especially yourself. There’s even research that shows grief can cause higher instances of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
2. You Can’t Deal With People Complaining About Their Parents
“You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone” — Cinderella The saying’s true. Whenever you’ve lost a parent, complaints people have about their own begin to rub you the wrong way. What you wouldn’t give to hear your mother talk your ear off for hours, or for your father to invite you out for fishing even though you’ve told him that’s the last thing you’d ever want to do.
3. You Can Feel Grief in Your Body
Your body holds onto emotions and that can translate into pain or illness when you’re wracked with such strong emotions as grief. It’s times like this when self-love and care are crucial. Studies show that men are especially prone to illness and pain associated with grief, so don’t push yourself too hard. You’re going through a terrible experience
4. You Learn to Live with Sadness
Grief isn’t something that just goes away once you hit the maximum grief limit. It tends to linger in the background, even when you start recovering. There are going to be days when you feel fine and others where you’re sick with a longing to see your parents.
But if you find that you always feel terrible after a few months, or a year or so, you should go to a doctor. You could have persistent complex bereavement disorder and you should get treatment if your grief begins to affect the overall quality of your life.
5. Holidays Have Changed
Especially with holidays where the focus is family, you can begin to feel hollow or lonely when that time of the year rolls around. Eventually, you’ll adapt to your parent no longer being at the dinner table, but it will still be hard before then.
6. You Learn to Accept Their Flaws
As a child, your parents were flawless monoliths, but that vision slowly faded away as you got older. When your parents pass, you return to that childhood vision somewhat. You accept your parents’ flaws and find that it’s easier to forgive them for the times they weren’t at their best.
7. Your Emotions Become More Complicated
Grief is more than just a feeling. It’s an amalgamation of anger, guilt, fear, sadness, even numbness or relief. It suddenly becomes much harder to tell what’s what.
8. Your Relationship with Your Siblings Changes
Each family has a unique dynamic and when a parent dies, you tend to go to your siblings for support. A loss can sometimes heal a broken relationship and you feel the need to be close with the people still alive in your life.
9. You Catch Yourself Trying to Call Them
Whenever you pick up that phone to tell your parents about something great that just happened, there’s always that feeling of immense sadness when you realize they won’t be picking up ever again
10. You Learn How Strong Love Actually Is
Even though your parents are gone, you really come to understand how much you loved them. That isn’t really going to cure your grief or make you any less sad, but it’s somewhat comforting to think about all the ways your parents were there for you and how grateful you are for them.