• Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings about the death. It is an essential part of healing.
  • Your grief is unique. No one grieves in exactly the same way.
  • Your particular grief experience will be influenced by the type of relationship you had with your parent, your emotional support system, and your cultural and religious background.
  • Comparing your experience with that of other people or adopting assumptions as to how long your grief should last can slow or deter your healing. Instead take a “one-day-at-a­-time” approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.
  • Expect to feel a multitude of emotions: numbness, confusion, fear, guilt, relief, regret, anger, and disappointment are just a few. These emotions may come in pairs or you may feel a particular feeling more intensely and longer than another.
  • Let yourself feel whatever you may be feeling; don't judge yourself or try to repress painful thoughts and feelings. Whenever you can, find someone who will hear you out as you explore your grief.
  • Recognize that the death of a parent will affect you, your siblings, your children, etc. differently; each of you has the right to mourn in your own way.
  • The death can conjure up sibling rivalries and conflict over a variety of topics. Conflicts are natural, even if unpleasant.
  • When there is a surviving parent, recognize the impact on him or her. The death of a spouse brings many different things: the realization that mortality is inevitable, financial pressures, compromised socialization, possible placement, being labeled as "widow"/"widower," etc.
  • Grieving the loss of a parent is some of the hardest work you'll ever do; reach out to others for help.
  • If you have lost someone who wasn't your biological parent, but who was, in the ways that count, a mother or father to you, know that your grief for this person is normal and necessary. You have the right to mourn the death of a parent figure.
  • Be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits - your loss will leave you fatigued. Nurture yourself, get enough rest, eat balanced meals, lighten your schedule as much as possible, try to walk.
  • Embrace your spirituality; if faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Having personal faith does not insulate you from needing to talk about your loss. To deny your grief is to invite problems to build up inside you.
  • You may find yourself asking, “Why did Mom have to die now?” or “What happens after death?” This search for the meaning of life and living is a normal response to the death of a parent.
  • Your parent lives on in spirit through your memories. Treasure those memories even when they make you laugh or cry.
  • Consider creating lasting tributes to your parent - perhaps plant a tree or put together a special memory box with snapshots and keepsakes.

--Excerpted/adapted from: Helping Yourself Heal when a Parent Dies. Thanatologist's Corner, Alan D. Wolfelt