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Home > Services & Specialties > Behavioral & Mental Health Services > Grief Support > Grief & Bereavement Resources > Understanding & Coping With Loss
Grief is a natural reaction to the death of a loved one but most of us are not ready for it. Grief can sometimes be devastating, frightening and often lonely. We may think, do, and say things that are not like us. Grief is not an orderly set of stages. It is different for each person, so only you know what feels right for you.
When your parent dies, you may believe that since you are an adult, you should not experience extreme grief. After all, many people bury a parent every year. By this time of your life you may have had other deaths in your family. You may have experienced loss of friends, co-workers or a child. You might feel that you no longer need parenting and may have even been a caregiver for your parent. Yet the death of a parent can have a surprising and strong impact on you.
The loss of a parent is the end of an era in your family history. You not only lose your parent, you lose:
For at least a short time, you may have:
If you were your parent's caregiver, you may feel relief. You may be glad that your parent is no longer suffering and you're free from the burden of care-giving. You might feel guilty about feeling relief. But remember that care-giving is very difficult and exhausting. Fatigue changes grief. In addition, your caregiver role has ended, which can add to the sense of abrupt change.
If you have a surviving parent, you may feel that their grief is more important than yours. The desire to give emotional support may delay your time of grief. You may be able to put off your grief for a while, but in time you will also grieve. It's important to take care of yourself. Share the duties of caring for your surviving parent if you can, and make time for yourself.
You might find that caring for your surviving parent lessens the pain of loss. You still have an important parent-child relationship. As you and your parent grieve together, each of you may find comfort in a deeper connection.
At the same time you are feeling the loss of your parent, you may gain a new perspective of him or her. As you hear stories from others, look at pictures and sort through their personal items, you may get to know your parent in a new way.
If your other parent is still living, they may give you another view of their lives together. These new stories can enrich your own memories.
You may also hear things that disturb or disappoint you. Memories can be both joyful and painful, but they can also be healing and bring understanding and growth.
Part of grief is losing what you thought the future would be like. But as you heal, you will begin to imagine a different future, one that is made up of memories. Those memories will be woven into the next chapter in your life.
Spirituality encompasses the whole self - mind, body, and spirit. You may have a specific faith, or your spirituality may be based on your beliefs, values, and sense of purpose.
Losing a loved one often creates spiritual distress and pain. Some find stability and comfort in keeping up their spiritual practices. Others may feel cut off from or angry with God. During this time of distress, you can help meet your spiritual needs by sharing your feelings with your Higher Power or with people who are close to you.
You may also want to ask for support from a faith community, clergy person, support group, or counselor.
The death of a life partner or spouse is hard at any age and in any situation. There may be secondary losses including:
Friends accept, support, and love you. Friends can be a second family or surrogate family. Losing a close friend is extremely hard and may affect others differently.
It is normal for people to have a wide variety of responses to grief. If your symptoms are severe or prevent you from functioning, get help right away from a grief counselor or other professional.
If you had a difficult relationship with the deceased, you may grieve the loss of any resolution.
Seeking additional support may benefit you if:
Call Grief Support Services at 218-786-4402 for more information regarding counseling and grief support groups for children, teens, and adults.