Chapter 3: Grieving the loss of your parent

Your emotions

I’ve been there
Jenny talks about waiting for the tears that helped her let go of her mom.(3:22)Video transcript
Lynn talks about how her grieving has changed with time.(3:22)Video transcript
Jenny describes how she copes with the waves of grief.(3:22)Video transcript

I remember going back and forth to the hospital when mom was dying and thinking, “I wish this was over.” When she died, I felt sick that I had thought this. Now I realize that I just wanted her suffering, and ours, to stop. I now understand this thinking is common, but it doesn’t make it easier.

I feel like we got ripped off. My kids got ripped off, and my dad got ripped off.

Your emotional response to your parent’s death is greatly influenced by the relationship that you had. Your grief may include a wide range of feelings that may be conflicting. You might feel that you have lost a part of yourself, or your “anchor” or “compass,” and you are longing to talk with them. You may be grieving for what never was and what never will be; or you may have made your peace with that a long time ago.

Grief can be accompanied by intense emotions. There are no “wrong” feelings. Whatever you’re feeling, acknowledge it. When you are ready, think about what might be behind the feeling. 

Click on the arrows to view some common feelings after losing a parent.

What may help

Everyone grieves differently. Find what is helpful to you, knowing this will not be the same for everyone.

Talk to people who are supportive. Find ways to express how you are feeling.

Try not to be influenced by those who want to hurry you through your grief or deny your feelings. Grief takes the time it takes.

Be kind and patient with yourself.

Trying to put your parent out of your mind or ignoring your feelings is usually not helpful. Making time to remember them, in whatever way feels right for you, can help.

Remember that grief is not experienced in a straight line or in stages that can be ticked off as having “gone through.”

If you think sharing your experience with others may help, consider joining a bereavement support group.

Helpful resources – Module 4: Moving through grief - Module 5: Making sense of intense emotions