The loss of a parent can shake the very foundations of our world. In this blog, we'll delve into the unique challenges of grieving a parent, share a personal story of navigating this journey, and provide insights and questions to reflect upon to help you find solace and strength to face the day.
Join us as we explore the intricate path of grieving the loss of a parent, finding meaning in memories, and learning to live in a world without them here.
I have lost both my parents so I hear you. I know how hard it is.
If you’re reading this, chances are you have lost a parent too, and for that I’m deeply sorry. From my experience – both personal and professional – losing those who stand above us can be a life defining moment. Our hearts break, we cannot imagine living life without them. Who’s going to share our triumphs and tribulations now that they’re gone?
When we first met Britta she was looking for advice on how to deal with the loss of her mother. She described herself as feeling “untethered and lonely”. Life was moving on, quickly, she became a mother herself shortly after, and found this made her longing for her own mother so much stronger.
We worked with Britta to identify the ‘secondary losses’ associated with the loss of her parent and encouraged her gently to make a plan for “peopling the holes”. While no one could ever replace the special role she had with her mum, looking at grief in this way did allow Britta to start to fill the void.
She says, “there are so many parts about losing a parent that you can’t explain to people who haven’t gone through it, and one of those is the secondary losses. You don’t know all the roles your parent plays in your life until you’re forced to live without them. For me it was realising I no longer had the person who cared so much about every single part of my life, big and small. I couldn’t pick up the phone and know the person I was calling would care deeply about whatever I was saying, have the answers I needed, support me and make me feel better no matter what. I didn’t have my number one cheerleader and confidant. Once I realised how important those key roles were, and how they could never just be filled by one person again, I was able to lean on friends and family members, asking them to step into those roles so I knew who I could call when I needed to. I was also able to recognise and step into some of those roles for my sisters. Although every day without mum is hard, acknowledging all the roles she played for me is a beautiful way to honour her, and to show me how to be a mum myself.”
The parent-child relationship can be one of the strongest emotional bonds of our lives, meaning grieving a parent can be monumentally tough. Typically your first caregiver, and very often a lifelong source of love and support, we form a deep attachment to them, making losing them feel like you’ve lost a primary source of love and security. Perhaps we never really grow up until we lose a parent, or perhaps we never fully appreciate the role they play until they’re gone. Either way know that adjusting to living life without them can take time, cut yourself some slack, recognise that can be physically exhausting, find people you can talk to, and work out ways to keep their memories alive.
A parent's love leaves an indelible mark on your heart, what does that mark look like to you? What did they teach you? How has having them in your life changed you? What is the mark they have left on you that can remain part of you forever more?
You will learn practical tools and techniques to ensure you are as empowered and prepared as possible to get your life back on track, and work towards a greater sense of control and calm.