The death of a parent can be accompanied by so many feelings. Some parental relationships are complicated while others are profoundly nurturing. Our parents gave us life and we have a lot of history with them. When a parent dies, a family can be forever changed as new family dynamics and tensions emerge. You might feel like an orphan if your only surviving parent has just died. Perhaps you were a caretaker or you relied on them for support. The nature of your relationship will very much affect your grief in the coming days and months. The loss of a parent can change your worldview, but it can also change your daily life if you have inherited practical and legal matters.
Here are some things to consider:
Find balance – if you have to manage an estate or other financial and legal matters, you could easily become consumed by a to-do list. Block out time for self-care, to clear your head, and to create space for your grief. Even though you will carry your grief with you in all your tasks, give it proper attention by taking time to reflect, share, and get support outside of a potentially robust to-do list.
Take breaks – family dynamics often change after the death of a parent. If tensions arise, pace yourself and choose your battles carefully. This is often a very emotionally charged time where many people aren’t on their best behavior because they are hurting. Schedule an appointment or chore to break up the day or foreseeable feuds.
Call a friend – if you are struggling with family dynamics, identify a friend who is a good listener and can support you with your grief and family challenges.
Exercise – grief is not just an emotion. It comes with fatigue and other ailments. Exercise is a healthy coping strategy if you’re able to do so.
Name your needs – while not every family member is a good listener, it can still be helpful to name what you need, the role you want to play in planning a funeral or dealing with an estate, and sharing your emotional needs.