This resource has been designed to help you understand and care for yourself as you grieve. It was developed by the Canadian Virtual Hospice in collaboration with national grief specialists and people who have grieved the death of a parent. We are grateful to those who shared their wisdom and experiences.
About this module: When Your Parent Has Died
The death of a parent is usually a significant event, even if there are differences in what makes it significant. Your parent’s death may feel deeply wounding to you, leaving you sad and bereft; or their death may have brought a sense of relief or release. Their death may represent lost opportunities or new ones.
Other people, whether they are your family or friends, may not always understand your grief or respond as you would wish. Because your relationship with your parent is unique to you, your grief may be different than that of your siblings, or your other parent or family members. It can take time to realize some of your losses, which are connected to your relationship with your parent and the role(s) they had in your life. There may be times when you have intense or conflicting feelings that leave you feeling overwhelmed or confused. This can happen regardless of your parent’s age, your age, or whether or not you felt prepared for the death.
We recommend that you review the nine Grief Basics modules found on our MyGrief.ca site:
As you read through this information…
You might be reading this shortly after your parent has died, or some time down the road. We encourage you to re-visit these resources often as you may only be able to absorb so much at any one time. What you find helpful may change over time. You might recognize your experiences or find that some of them aren’t reflected here. If there is content you believe should be added, please tell us about it in the survey at the end.
As you read this, you may have strong emotions or feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to step away from it for a while, or it might help to talk with a trusted family member or friend. Canadian Virtual Hospice provides online Discussion Forums where you can connect with others who may have experienced similar losses. You can also ask our healthcare team a confidential question at Ask a Professional. You will receive a written response within three business days (not including Canadian statutory holidays).
A note about language
Parent is used inclusively in this resource to denote the role of a parenting relationship with another. This refers to anyone in a parental or caregiving role to a child of any age. The relationship can be biological, adoptive, through marriage (step), by fostering, through family of choice, or any other connection where there is a parent/child relationship and dynamic with another.Within this reference, child refers to someone of any age who has a connection with someone as a parent. This relationship may be biological, adoptive, through marriage (step), by fostering, through family of choice, or any other connection where there is a parent/child relationship and dynamic with another.