Chapter 5: Others in your family

Your other parent (or their spouse)

When Dad died, everything landed on me. Dad looked after everything, and Mom was at such a loss. My brothers both live in other provinces, and it’s overwhelming supporting her while coping with my own grief, work, and the demands of my family.

Being three thousand miles away from Mom makes me feel helpless. While she appreciates my phone calls, it feels like it’s not nearly enough. I know my brother resents having to carry the load.

Your other parent or surviving spouse will be coping with a major change that impacts their entire world. They may be unable to provide the same level of support they previously did in difficult circumstances. You might find yourself more attentive to their grief than your own, and feel heartbroken to witness their loneliness.

You may feel resentment or anger for the way they treated your parent who died, either recently or over a long period of time. You might feel frustrated if they now express regret for their behaviour. It’s normal to have many different and often contradictory feelings.

If the parent who died did the cooking, cleaning, or provided caregiving, you may find yourself spending more time and energy caring for their surviving partner. Whether this person is your parent or not, carefully evaluate this new role and decide what you are able and willing to do.


What may help

While your other parent, or the surviving spouse of your parent who died, may need your compassion and support, it’s also important to recognize and respond to your own grief. Try to find time and emotional space to acknowledge your own loss, your response, and your feelings.

Consider encouraging your other parent or the surviving spouse to reach out for support from other family members, friends, or perhaps a counsellor or support group.

If assistance is needed with activities of daily living, explore options such as home care services or other community resource supports. It may take some time, but it’s important that you don’t become overwhelmed because you feel as though everything is resting on you.

Helpful resources - Module 7: Caring for yourself