How to Deal With a Loss of a Parent

Alice Wisler
Losing a parent is difficult at any age.

How to deal with a loss of a parent is a multifaceted and sensitive subject to approach. The parent's age at death and the child's age, among other factors, play into the intricate feelings about the loss.

Losing an Elderly Parent

It is said that when you lose a parent, you have lost your past. Your parents have always been there since the time you were born. To experience life without them, takes much getting used to regardless of how old they were when they died.

However, when parents reach the ages of 70, 80 or older, their adult children know that they will not be around forever and that death is inevitable.

After a Prolonged Illness

Some elderly parents may be sick with an illness for a long time. They may live in a nursing home or be cared for in a residential home for years. At times, hospice will be called, and family members will be well aware that the parent may not have much longer to live.When parents die after a prolonged illness, the first reaction of the adult child or children is usually that of relief. Children are grateful that their parent is no longer suffering. They are also appreciative of the long life the parent had lived.

However, the child must now get used to life without this parent. This will take time. If the deceased parent's spouse is still living, the adult children have to cope not only with their own feelings of sadness, but those of the living parent or step-parent.

Sudden Death

Whenever anyone dies suddenly, there is always shock for family and friends. Even if the parent is elderly, it takes time to adjust to the loss.

Losing a Young Parent

When a parent in his or her 20s or 30s dies, no one is prepared. Whether the cause of death be from a car accident, war-related, murder, suicide or illness, the sentiment is remorse that life was cut short. If small children have lost a parent, the surviving parent feels he or she must be strong for them.

Guidance on How to Deal With a Loss of a Parent

When a parent dies, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • It is natural to want to freely cry
  • Read books on dealing with bereavement
  • Surround yourself with friends and family who love you
  • If you experience extensive depression and inability to function, consult a counselor or therapist
  • Expect the holidays to be difficult (including birthdays and anniversaries)
  • Find a support group to attend
  • Establish a memorial in memory of the deceased parent
  • Spend time remembering the parent by sharing her life with others
  • Create a scrapbook or photo album

Helpful Books on Death of a Parent

Books, reading the thoughts and emotions of others who have been there, are a helpful way to handle the death of a parent. A few include:

  • Death of a Parent by Debra Umberson
  • When Parents Die by Edward Myers
  • Helping Children Cope With the Death of a Parent by Paddy Greenwall Lewis and Jessica G. Lippman

Looking to the Future

Honest, heartfelt literature and poetry, among other positive things, can stem from the death of a loved one. Over the decades, our society has embraced the need for bereavement books unlike ever before.As you make your way through your days, you may find you want to reach others who are also suffering from the loss of a parent. You may have an opportunity to facilitate a grief group at your church or community center. Taking a bereavement course will further your skills in this area. In your sorrow, you can be a source of comfort and healing for others. You can help others learn how to deal with a loss of a parent.

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How to Deal With a Loss of a Parent