healing from the loss of a parent
Loss of a parent – the impact of losing a parent affects our present experience, future hopes, and expectations. Without your parent or parental figure, there are needs not being met at key moments in your life, such as birthdays, wedding, or the birth of a child. It’s in these significant events, you are reminded of the person that is missing, and the emotions of loss can feel like a great emptiness in your life.
When a parent or parental figure is gone, we lose the following:
Grief not only comes with the pain of difficult emotions, but it also makes you vulnerable and at risk for increased risks of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. In mind, there is a struggle with thoughts. Sometimes your mind will want to reject the idea that parent has passed away after listening to a recording of their voice or watching a family video.
You may feel afraid when packing up your loved one’s things that you might lose memories by letting physical items go. The two are not equal, you can choose the most memorable of the items to keep and write down the story or memory this provokes in you and keep it with the item. While allowing yourself to release items that are not tied to experience or have sentimental value. This also occurs later in time, as the years pass some people have experienced a struggle to hold on to memories out of fear of forgetting your loved one.
If the relationship with your parent was strained, there are moments of negative thoughts your parent, possibly leaving you with feelings of regret, shame, guilt, or anger. The loss of a parent can cause a sense of insecurity because the protective layer your parent provided is gone in the physical sense.
Some of the risks associated with loss increase in:
With all of the risk listed above, it is understandable that you have strong, difficult feelings. Loss of love is why you grieve. Love from the people closest to you is needed to help repair the wound on your heart.
Start on the road to recovery from loss by practicing kindness, compassion for yourself. Don’t be critical or rush the healing process. Allow yourself to receive help and love from others. It will take time and small steps to learn how to love life again and be free of the fear of loss.
Know your limits and institute boundaries with others to prevent becoming further overwhelmed. Expressing your feelings and needs will help those around you to know how they can help and prevent them from accidentally causing pain.
The loss of a parent can draw siblings closer together or further split apart. Explore forgiveness and avoid unfair expectations of others; the family may grow closer together. or further fracture due to pain, unforgiveness and blame and unresolved pain.
Give yourself the time and permission to explore spirituality and relationship with God even if this is new to you. When you lose a parent, it is natural to start thinking about our own morality and issues related to spirituality.
If you are finding the emotions are overwhelming, seek help from a friend and trained professional to help, you process the grief. The experience of recovery from grief requires processing the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors related to loss.
Seek support from friends and other family members and in your community for others grieving the loss of a parent. Seek a licensed mental health professional with experience in grief and loss, if you are having difficulty. Problems of focusing, feeling sad or hopeless, increasing in drink or drug use, problems with appetite these are signs to seek out professional help.
If you are in the El Paso, Texas area give us a call at 915-540-5771.
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I’m Gessy Martinez, LPC, LCDC and I’m here to help you start healing today. Healing from your past is possible.