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When Your Parent Dies

No matter what age you are—young or old, single or with a family of your own—you will still be deeply affected by the death of your mother or father. When your mom or dad dies, it may be one of the most emotional losses you’ll experience in life. It is only natural to feel consumed by a combination of pain, fear and deep sadness at the loss of such a significant influence in your life.

The specifics of how you grieve will depend on a number of personal factors, including your relationship with your parent, age, gender, religious beliefs, previous experience with death, and whether or not you believe it was time for your parent to die. But there are some common reactions that people often experience after the loss of a parent. They include:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Numbness
  • Guilt
  • Preoccupation with the memory of your parent

When you lose a parent, you also lose a life long friend, counselor and advisor. Therefore, you may suddenly feel very much alone, even if you have the support of other family and friends. Even the loss of your parent’s home as a natural place for family gatherings can add to the grief you experience.

After the initial shock fades, you will experience what is called secondary loss. This is when you may begin to think of all the upcoming experiences that your parent will not be there to share in. Things like career accomplishments, watching your own children grow, and other milestones. If you are older, the death of a parent may even bring up issues of your own mortality.

Allowing yourself to grieve for the loss of your parent will help you to say goodbye and loosen the emotion bonds to a loved one who has been a special part of your life.

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