Coping with the loss of a mother or father or even a mother or father figure is a very big challenge in most peoples lives. For many the news may come as a surprise and the grief that follows can send them on emotional roller coasters which seem never ending. Like in many grief situations some may manage the suffering and loss by hiding or burying it in their own way. This can have far reaching consequences which can lead to unexpected behaviour and or outpourings of sadness. We here at funeral suggestions have worked to gather together some of the best advice we could find on the subject to perhaps make this time a little easier to manage.
The five stages of loss with examples
Have a look at the 5 stages of grief as noted below and see if you recognise any;
1. Denial and isolation; This period is characterised by pushing others away and denying the facts of the situation. In the loss of a mother or father this can mean avoiding siblings and or avoiding the facts/not talking about your feelings.
2. Anger; This part is where you feel a strong sense that someone or something is responsible for the process and intense anger towards that person or thing. In parental loss this can mean anger and guilt about the circumstances around the person’s life.
3. Bargaining; This part is where you’ll do anything to change the course of events that have led to the circumstances you find yourself in. “What ifs” can prevail here.
4. Depression; This stage can arise if you can only see negative practical and emotional fallout and struggle to see a path to your own happiness. This can happen in cases where you had a deep relationship with your mother or father or guardian.
5. Acceptance; This is where you feel that you can accept the loss and you can see a positive route to a life without your mother or father or guardian.
Losing a guardian or a father or mother can be a major event in a persons life. Depending on your age and the age of the deceased person it can have very different grieving processes. Even in cases where the person “had a good innings” (lived a full life) the pain of the loss can still be long standing and unpredictable. Like with many other grieving processes the experience can be non-linear and can be a mix of a number of the 5 traits which can operate at the same time in a rollercoaster ride. You may struggle to see the progress in this style of process however in many cases it is there, it’s just a little harder to chart.
Talking to siblings or other family members about how you feel is important as they may be going through similar experiences themselves. Talking to friends is also important as they may be able to offer additional emotional support and may be capable of sharing their experiences with you. While it’s important to talk it’s also important to tell people what you actually want. People may want to help but may not be able to tell what it is you are looking for. Try to be clear with people and try to understand that they are not going through the same emotional experience so try to forgive them if they don’t appear as sensitive as you would imagine. Should you struggle to get as much support as you would like from these groups it may be worthwhile looking for support groups, professional grief counsellors or even just doing research into your feelings.
Looking after yourself during the period
Like with grief and loss of any kind it’s important to think and take account of your own physical and emotional state. Recognising your feelings and finding a constructive outlet for them (like writing or painting or music) can be helpful. While control can be a double edged sword it is important to take control of where your emotions are taking you and making plans for how to deal with them can help. Most important of all is the need for you to take care of your physical well being by exercising and eating well and consistently.
When the grieving process goes on for longer than you expect
Grief is not a predictable or a short term human emotion. It’s not like a fit of rage or elation which will come and go quickly. The process can take a long time and at times it can appear to diminish only to reappear in different ways. If you feel like the process is taking longer than you expected you may want to seek professional help in the shape of a grief counsellor or a professional in the field of mental health. Below are some resources which may help you on your journey.
To find a local grief service access http://lifeline.serviceseeker.com.au and use ‘loss and grief’ or ‘bereavement’ as a search term (it can find services by State), then refer to the most local service.
Lifeline Crisis 131114 number,
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement: 03 9265 2100.