Coping with the Death of a Parent

Our parents are our first mentors, our protectors, and the shoulders we leaned on. The loss of a parent is profound. Grief is a process and the stages can’t be skipped. Take your time.

Life Transitions Coach and author of  The Hourglass, Diane Dennis, says that the grief process is the same as suffering any other loss, except this one is tied to more emotions due to unfinished business, deep emotional ties or difficult relationships. It can bring up: anger, guilt, blame, shame, depression.

Myths:
1. If our parents live a long, productive and happy life, it is easier to accept their death
2. If we had a great relationship with them, it is easier to say goodbye
3. If we had a difficult relationship with them, it is easier to say goodbye

Facts:
1. It is difficult to lose a parent regardless of their life circumstances or your relationship with them.
2. This loss brings up other losses and we revisit other times of grief
3. A parent’s death makes us face our mortality

1. The underlying Belief surrounding the circumstances and timing (of a parent’s death) affects the emotional impact and our ability to get to acceptance:

Examples:
Dad died too young—it wasn’t his time
We didn’t see it coming and couldn’t say goodbye
Although mom had a chronic condition, we didn’t believe she would die now
He was hard to talk to, so there are so many things left unsaid
We had a fight, and that was the last time I saw her

These examples can lead to
1. Regret: I wish I would have visited more often, told her I loved her more, appreciated all she did for me

2. Guilt: I am not a good daughter because I didn’t ……

3.  Anger: How could God let this happen to such a wonderful person
 
4. Resentment: Mom didn’t do enough for me. Or, Dad wasn’t there

Work through these feelings. If they persist see a professional. Remember, your own children are watching you—don’t perpetuate these generational attitudes

Lessons to learn:

 FACING MORTALITY
1. We don’t know how long we are going to be here: Get right with loved ones, get your affairs in order, forgive and mend relationships

A WILL SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A WEAPON
2. Don’t use the will for “getting the last word” or to cause harm

GIVE YOUR CHILDREN WHAT YOU FAILED TO RECEIVE 
3. Use mistakes in relationship with parents as building blocks with your  children


 

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