I suppose my father was lucky. He didn’t have time to suffer, or even to realize that he was dying. Lot’s of people later assured me that it’s the best way to die. However, his rapid passing from Aneurism, robbed me of the closure so necessary when coping with death of a parent.
The bond that exists between parents and children starts even before the birth. When the child is growing up, he relies on his parents for his very survival. Later in life, as the child becomes an adult, the dependency is reduced, however the bond still remains.
As the cycle of life continues, the roles reverse. And the grown child who was once the subject of attention, now begins caring for the elderly parents. The bond between children and their parents is only second to those of the adult child’s spouse and their own children.
If the parent passes while the child is young, it can stir feelings of abandonment. When the child is an adult, the death serves as a reminder of their own mortality. At any time, the death evokes powerful and long lasting emotions.
I was completely unprepared for my father’s death. Even when the parent has been in poor health for years, it’s almost never possible to be fully prepared for the grief. Since I was unable to have the opportunity for closure during my father’s life, I had to learn how to deal with death of a parent for years to come. Here are principles I learned along the way.
Allow Time to Mourn
When dealing with the loss of a parent, you simply can not move on until you let yourself mourn. If you try to convince yourself that the death was a timely, normal event, you will only get out of touch with your emotions. And while death is a natural cycle of life, it must be properly acknowledged and mourned.
Often, you may not have had the opportunity to express yourself to the parent during life. You may have emotions of guilt or regret on your part. Communicate your feelings to your parent now. Don’t hold back. Have their image in your mind, and express to them everything that you feel in your heart.
Share Your Feelings
When dealing with the death of a parent, keep in mind that you are not alone. Share your thoughts and feelings with other family members and close friends. They understand and share your experience. There is not a single adult in the world who has not been touched by death of a loved one. Also, join a support group or an online community.
It’s also helpful to write about your experience. You could write in a private journal, or out in the open in a blog or a magazine. Sharing your feelings is tremendously therapeutic to better understand yourself and your emotions. If needed, consult a professional counselor.
Create a Memorial
As a part of the coping process, it’s very helpful to create a memorial to your parent. This may be an official funeral or a church memorial, or a symbolic memorial such as making a donation in their memory, or planting of a tree. Think of what your parent would have wanted to be remembered by.
Draw on Your Faith
Death of a parent should serve as a reminder that in a big scheme of things, death is not the end of the road, but actually the continuation of the journey. Draw on your faith, to acknowledge this process, and pray for your parent’s spirit as it moves on.
Also, give thanks for the good times and memories that you’ve shared together in this life. Give thanks for the lessons you were taught by your parent and for the their love for you. Try to understand and embrace the cycle that we are all a part of.
While death ended your parents physical life on Earth, it does not end your relationship with them. You are still their child and they will remain being your parent. Now that the spirit is set free, your bond can be stronger than ever. Remember that as long as you carry their memory in your heart, you will always be together. Take comfort in knowing that your parent still loves you.
Live well. Vlad