Chapter 4: Impact on family and friends

Your parents

I've been there
Karen speaks about how her parent's had different ways of grieving.(3:22)Video transcript

My mom and I are still at a point where we're trying to protect each other. Part of our grief is feeling we can’t help each other. That’s had an impact on our relationship.

My father and my sister were really close. She was his favourite and still “Daddy’s little girl” even though we are adults. He’s heartbroken – we both are – but now I find myself tiptoeing around him and conscious about what this means for our relationship now that it’s just the two of us.

If any of your parents are still living, you will also likely be dealing with their grief for the loss of their child, and this will have an impact on your own grieving. There are two key factors to be aware of:

  • Your relationships with your parents
  • The relationship that your sibling had with your parents

Parental relationships can be complicated. You may have been the “favourite” or the “wild child.” Your sibling may have been estranged from your parents but not from you; or your sibling may have been the one your parents most often turned to for help. The nature and interaction of these relationships will affect everyone’s grief in different ways.

You and your parents may be able to recognize the depth and variation in each other’s grief and mutually support each other. You may spend a lot of energy tending to their grief, wanting and needing to comfort them; at other times, you may feel impatient with their needs.

You also think – or receive subtle (or not so subtle) messages from others – that your parents’ grief is more important than your own. Below are some strategies to consider if you are feeling overwhelmed by your grief or your parents’ grief or needs. Click on each of these strategies to read more.

Consider who else might be able to support your parents. Other siblings, family members, or friends may be able to help. You might encourage your parents to seek support from others or to consider counselling or a support group.

You may need to set limits on the time and energy you have for others, including your parents. Remember that you also need and deserve compassion, love, and support. Seek whatever you need from other family members, your spouse or partner, your friends, or a counsellor.