When a tragedy happens in our lives, there are two types of reaction. One is to lose ourselves and get into a self-destructive life. But the other is to grow stronger out of your pain and find your inner strength.
One of the biggest tragedies in life is when you lose a parent, or both. Losing a parent feels like losing a part of yourself. Anyone who has experienced that can confirm it. But everyone deals with it differently. Some embrace it, others mask it. There are two sides of every story. If you have lost a parent, you have seen them both.
There is no instructional guide on how to deal with the death of a parent.
Death of a loved one is a one way ticket experience. It comes so unexpected, even though we always convince ourselves that we are prepared and nothing can surprise us. We are full of grief and we just can’t stop it.
According to philosophy, there are five stages of grief:
– Denial – It is the first stage of grief. In this stage everything becomes meaningless. The world is not the same anymore and we don’t like it. We take a day at the time in order to adjust to the change in our lives. We wonder how we should go on. We let in the feelings only as much as we can handle. Our heart is filled with unpleasant feelings and it seems like it is the end of the world. Once we begin to accept the truth, the healing process starts. It makes us stronger and ready to go on.
– Anger – It’s the next step that comes after the denial. Anger is the mask, the cover of your pain. It can be related to different objects, like the person who died or someone close to us that changed after the death of the loved person. The anger has no limits. It can be expressed in many ways, in many shapes. We need that feeling to know that we are not dead inside. We can suppress the anger or show it out in any form. The best way to deal with it is to transform it into some kind of activity, like writing, sports, running or similar. It is not healthy to keep it inside because it can turn into a psychosomatic disease.
–Bargaining – Before the loss of our loved one, we will do anything if only he would be spared. We begin to bargain with God and make deals to serve him in any way, so that our loved one could live. Then, when we lose the person, we start asking questions. We are concerned about what could we do to prevent the death. We wish we could turn back the time and do something different to save that person. The temporary truce and calmness is filled with guilt. We think we should have done something, anything to prevent the death.
– Depression – After the loss, our mind is filled with unpleasant, sad thoughts. Especially when we think about the fact that our loved one is gone and we will never meet again. We wonder why we would go on at all. The depression becomes present in our lives. It is important to say that this depression is not a sign of illness. It is just a reaction to the great loss in our lives. We withdraw from our obligations, our friends, our everyday life. It seems like there is no way out of this stage.
– Acceptance – It is the ultimate stage of our grief. It is all about accepting that our loved person is gone and there is no way we can change that. That is the reality, the truth and we just have to accept that. We begin to live our changed lives and take them as they are. We begin to feel the need to be with others and let them in our lives. The need of having more good days than bad is present. We learn to live with the terrible truth and how to accept it when we think of it. It takes a long time to get to this stage. This doesn’t mean that we are healed. It means that we have accepted the new component of our personality and how to involve it in our lives.
We must remember that the stages are a product of our feelings. There are no boundaries between them or limited length. We can go from one stage to another and back. That lasts until we begin to recover.
Getting through such a dark period, proved some things: that you are stronger than you think; that deep down inside of us is strength we have never known about; and, nothing can hit us with that intensity any more.
There are some things everyone should do in order to please his soul, wounded by the death of a parent. What I recommend is:
- Keep your memories fresh – Every event you went through with your parent is important to you. His/her smell, the laughter, his/her face, eyes – you don’t want to forget them, because they have been a great part of your life. All of those are sacred to you. Try to picture them every now and then in your mind and they live with you forever.
- Keep something significant to remind you – When your parent died, he left his things behind. For someone they are just things, but for you they are a bunch of memories. You can keep and wear his T- shirt if it’s OK for you. The photos, jewelry, some small ornament returned so many memories in you. Keep some of them to remind you of the precious time you have spent together.
- Last words are meaningless – It depends on the case. Some people are so weak before they die, so they can’t say much or react in some way. Sometimes people die alone. But sometimes people feel that it is their last hour and say something significant they wanted to say their whole life. For someone close to them those words have a great meaning.
- Don’t feel like crying – It is quite all right you faked crying at the funeral of your father. You must think that everyone cries at these events, but something was wrong with you. But it is OK. Your mind was just so stressed, disappointed and chaotic, that your body could not react properly.
- It is OK if you feel relieved – Many people spend hard times with their parents before they die. So, when it is finally over, you feel relieved because all of your troubles are gone. You might feel glad that your parent is saved from his pain and suffer. And you won’t see that anymore. It is a natural feeling that comes along.
- You need counseling or therapy – do it! – You feel like you won’t be able to deal with all the pain in you, which came with the death of your parent. There is a solution for that too. You can seek professional help, like counseling or therapy, to help you get try it. Do not feel embarrassed. On the opposite, it’s quite clever.
- You feel jealous of your friends and their parents – You see your friends with their parents and you feel jealous. It makes you sad to know that you won’t see your parent again. You miss your lunches together. You miss everything about him. It is OK to feel that way. But the fact that you can’t change it is even worse.
- Only people that have the same experience can understand you – When you lose a parent, people react differently in relation to you. Some are supportive. Some avoid you because they don’t know what to say. Try to understand those – they don’t know how you feel. Only people who have lost someone so close can really understand you.
And, remember, be happy and laugh, because you know your parents would love you to do it!