By Nancy Cozart
Coping with the Loss of a Parent
It’s June and the weather is warming up. Neighbors are having backyard barbeques and family gatherings. Father’s Day is coming up, and it seems that everyone around you has plans for celebrating.
If you have lost a parent, holidays such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may be especially difficult. You may be coping with grief following the loss of a parent. Special days such as their birthday and holidays may be difficult, too. If you are coping with grief this Father’s Day, remember that you are not alone.
While it is not easy to cope with grief on special days and holidays, you can get through this.
One Day at a Time
One day at a time. One step at a time. You are still the same wonderful you beneath the layers of sadness. You have an inner strength and resilience. Rely on your inner strength to pull you through. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to wave to make the sadness go away. Take one step forward every day. In time, you can look back and see how far you have come.
When coping with grief, it helps to stay busy. When faced with grief, staying busy helps to take your mind off your sadness. Exercise is a good diversion and a healthy way to take steps to get back on track. Try a new hobby. Take an exercise class. Try trivia or karaoke. Go hiking. Take a cooking class. Try something new. Take a line dancing class. Try taking a painting class at a local community college. Join a gym and take an exercise class. Watch movies. Read books. Go for long walks at a park. Schedule lunch plans with friends. In time, all the pieces will come together and you will feel whole again. Until then, take one step forward every day. Eventually, you can look back and see how far you have come.
If you have lost a spouse and a parent, it may feel like a double whammy when Mother’s Day and Father’s Day roll around again. If you have lost both of your parents, it is especially difficult. Although these days are really just dates on a calendar, it is certainly not easy to feel happy on these days when you feel that everyone around you is celebrating and you have nobody to celebrate with. Watching TV commercials and seeing greeting card aisles and displays in stores may add to the feelings of grief and sadness.
Inner Strength and Resilience
You may feel sad when coping with grief, but you have an inner strength and resilience that can pull you through. When faced with grief, you have the ability to beome stronger and you can overcome the problems and challenges that you are faced with.
Even if you feel that your sadness is insurmountable, you have the power to weather any storm. Just keep taking one step forward every day, and in time you will feel better.
You are unique and special. You have your own unique personality, perspective and talents. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut of sadness, you do have the power within you to reinvent yourself. You can redefine the person you want to be. If you are staying home and not wanting to go outside, consider trying a new hobby.
If you have always dreamed of cooking gourmet meals, you may want to take a cooking class. If you have a talent in art, consider taking an art class at a local community college. If you are retired, consider volunteering for local charitable organizations. Or maybe consider working part-time.
If you work full time, consider going hiking or biking on your days off. Or maybe consider direct sales opportunities such as Pampered Chef, Tupperware or Mary Kay. If you work, consider joining networking organizations.
You have the power and control to reinvent yourself. If you believe in yourself and your abilities, you will go far in life. While coping with grief is never easy, you can develop new coping skills and find new ways to overcome challenges in your life.
There is No Timeline for Grief
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that you can wave to make the grief go away. There is no timeline for grief. Every person experiences grief in a way that is unique to them. Grief does not suddenly disappear. It is always there, but in time you can learn how to cope with it better.
In time, you can learn to live with the grief and you will be able to move forward with living a happy and fulfilling life. Even though there is no magic wand that will make the sadness go away, there is something within you that will help you cope. It is your own inner strength and resilience. Rely on your own inner strength and believe in yourself and you will go far in life.
If you have lost a parent, a spouse or another family member, holidays may be especially difficult. It may help to remember the good times and focus on cherished memories rather than dwelling on the sadness of missing them. Try to recall the happier times rather than focusing on their death.
It may help to look at old pictures as you remember happier times. Maybe you could assemble photos into photo albums or scrapbooks.
It may help to schedule outings with family or friends. Maybe you could plan a trip to the zoo. Or make arrangements to meet a friend for lunch at a local restaurant. You could plan a trip to a city you have never been to before. Or you could go hiking at local parks. Try scheduling outings to stay busy and to get out of your home on a regular basis.
If you are missing a loved one, it might help to try to express yourself. Try writing a letter to your loved one telling them how much you miss them. You can also try going to see a counselor to address your feelings and express your feelings during counseling sessions. You can try joining a grief support group online or in person. Check with local places of worship, funeral homes and Meetup groups to locate local grief groups. You can also try starting a diary, journal or blog to express your feelings in writing.
Missing Your Dad
Of course you will be missing your dad on Father’s Day. Grief is the price we pay for love. Where there was great love, there will be great grief. It may feel like there is a hole in your life and something is missing. It may take a while until you feel whole again. It may feel like pieces of a puzzle are missing and you will never be able to put the pieces back together again.
In time, it will get easier. Grief is not easy to cope with. Just keep taking one step forward every day and you will eventually be in a happier place.
If you are dreading Father’s Day or any other special day because you have lost a loved one, it might help to plan ahead to stay busy on that day. Rather than staying home and feeling sad, maybe you can make plans with family or friends to create new traditions and new celebrations. You could ask a friend if you could join in on their holiday celebrations. Or you could invite a friend to join you for lunch.
Visit a Nursing Home or Assisted Living
If you have lost a parent, grand parent or family member, it might help to visit an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted living home. You and your elderly loved one can reminisce about happier times. If you do not have a loved one in a nursing home, consider volunteering at a nursing home or assisted living community to help spread joy to elderly people who may be feeling lonely. Or you can ask local nursing homes if you can schedule visits to elderly patients.
When I was in high school, I volunteered at a local nursing home and worked with elderly patients as a volunteer art therapist. It was a rewarding experience and I highly recommend volunteer work.
Your Grief Journey
Father’s Day can be an especially difficult day when you have lost a loved one. Whether you have lost a parent, a grandparent, a spouse, or all of the above…Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can both be challenging days. Holidays in general are difficult. Certain days are more difficult than others.
Although you may be feeling sad, remember that your feelings of sadness will diminish in time. Just keep taking one step forward every day. Your grief journey is unique to you. No two people experience grief in exactly the same way. In time, you will be able to look back on your grief journey from a different perspective and you will be able to see how far you have come.
If you are sad, grieving and lonely, do not despair. You are not alone. There are others like you who are feeling sad, too. Life is too short to spend your life stuck in a rut filled with grief. Give yourself time and don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve. In time, the grief journey will get easier. Just keep taking one step forward each day. One day at a time. Keep moving forward on the path and you will eventually find the inner strength and resilience to overcome the challenges of grief.