Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Useful Strategies for Coping with the Loss of a Parent

Regardless of how old you are, the loss of a parent is a devastating and life-altering experience. For those with senior parents, the idea can actually seem completely overwhelming. While it is never easy to get over the loss of mom or dad, here are a few strategies a person can use to cope with their grief and begin to resume a normal life:

Rely on support

Many people begin to internalize their grief and emotions. They tell friends and family members that they’re fine, when they’re really going through an intense emotional crisis. Elder care professionals recommend avoiding this natural instinct, instead opting to share with family members and friends. These people are there to support you and help you get through this challenging time, so it’s important to let them know exactly how you’re feeling.  

Seek professional help

With a loss as dramatic as this one, it can often be useful to seek professional help. A trained therapist can help to equip you with the coping strategies necessary to recover and rebuild your life without your parent there. It’s also helpful to have someone who is there specifically to listen and provide support, particularly if you’re starting to feel like a burden on family members and friends.

Don’t abandon hobbies and passions

When you lose a parent, it’s tempting to sit at home and wallow. While this may seem like the best option, this actually can worsen feelings of sadness. Instead, it’s necessary to try to stick to a normal routine. Whether this means going to the gym, meeting friends for dinner, reading, or taking the dog for a walk, participating in favorite activities can help to alleviate feelings of grief. 

Attend a support group

It’s often helpful to spend time with people going through a similar situation. Locate a support group in your area, and make it a point to attend at least a few meetings. Knowing that you’re not alone in your pain is often a comforting fact. 

After you lose a parent, it’s important to remain focused on self-care. Get enough sleep, eat well, and don’t try to take on too many new additional responsibilities. This is a vulnerable time, and you shouldn’t try to overextend yourself as you heal.  It’s okay to say “no” to optional activities, and to spend time reflecting and relaxing. 

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