How to survive the death of parents

Psychotherapist Maria Sergunina tells how to survive one of the most terrible events in life, what to do to make it easier, and how friends and relatives can help in such a situation.

How to survive the death of parents

Maria Sergunina

- The death of parents brings not only pain. She confronts a person with the loss of her own childhood. This is a loss of support, a source of support and a bitter realization that "I am next." Often the death of parents is also the need to take the position of an older family member.

So, in addition to acute grief, there is also a fear of a new life without the help of relatives.

Tears are a natural way to survive grief. Mourning loss helps to express your emotions, feelings. Worse, if this does not happen - the feelings are locked deep inside, and sadness does not find a way out.

Neither the person nor his relatives need to be afraid of violent emotional manifestations.

It is important for family members of a person who has lost parents to remain calm, ensure safety and provide support. Intervening is only in case of a threat to human life and health. If the situation gets out of control, it is better to seek help from specialists. You may need light medication, but you should not take medicine without a doctor’s prescription.

How to survive the death of parents

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Death in different cultures is treated differently. For example, for some traditional societies, death is not a fatal end, but a transition from one state to another, the highest transformation available to man. In our reality, the theme of death is taboo, and the attitude towards it is rather negative, it is rarely perceived as a natural part of life. It is not customary in families to discuss death, to prepare children for this. If the property issue is at least somehow touched, the conversation about how to respond to death, what emotions to experience, does not arise.

Acceptance of death does not occur immediately. This is a process that takes a lot of time and has a number of patterns. It can be conditionally divided into four phases:

  • the first phase is shock, numbness. This condition catches up immediately after loss. It is based on the natural psychological defense mechanisms necessary to preserve the human psyche.

    This period emotionally prepares for the process of grief;

  • the second phase is denial, longing. At this stage, the person tries to resist the inevitability of loss, to find the opportunity not to face emotional pain;
  • the third phase is anger and subsequent despair. This is the most acute stage, during which the emotional disorganization of the personality often occurs. It may be accompanied by accusations, a sense of injustice, severe emotional pain and guilt;
  • the fourth phase - the adoption, reorganization of life. At this stage, a person begins to adapt to life without a dead person and gradually psychologically releases him.

But these are not universal stages. Each person lives grief individually, and there are no uniform rules on how he should do it.

How to survive the death of parents

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A person can get stuck in some phase. For example, he already seemed to be able to return to life, but he too often recalls his parents, his main topic of conversation is parents.

Over time, this can worsen relationships with others, especially a partner or children, and develop into a serious problem. It’s worth it to sound the alarm only if this period is delayed and this interferes with the adequate functioning of the person. For some reason, his relationship with the dead is more important than with the living. There is something in these relationships that needs to be completed. In such a situation, it is best to consult a psychologist specializing in work with the loss of loved ones.

As a method of self-help, you can write a letter to the deceased and list everything that remains unsaid there. It may begin with the words "I have long wanted to (a) tell you."

How to survive the death of parents

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Involvement in life itself helps to return to life - communication, walking, a healthy diet, daily routine, and helping relatives. When the funeral rituals end, it is important to get rid of the deceased's things and put the photos in albums.

This is necessary so as not to get stuck in the second phase: when there is no person, but many objects remind him. Ideally, you can make repairs - both actual and symbolic updating of the space.

Completely leaving for work or life, running away from one’s experiences is not an option. Unexpressed feelings continue to live inside and cause discomfort to a person - attention and memory worsen, psychosomatic disorders develop. However, inaction and apathy can also serve as a start for depression.

Therefore, it is important to find a space for yourself and your feelings, but also not to fall out of social life for a long time, to gradually adapt to life without parents.

To abuse alcohol and other psychoactive substances is a bad idea. It happens that people cannot mourn the loss without alcohol. At first glance, it may seem that this helps to overcome the emotional barrier, and subsequently anesthetizes. But it often happens that drinking alcohol delays and develops into a serious problem.

In addition, one does not need to inflict emotional and physical harm on oneself: self-flagellation, cultivation of guilty feelings, prolonged isolation, refusal to eat, thoughts of suicide.

How to survive the death of parents

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It all depends on the circumstances and the emotional state of the person who has lost the parent. It happens that he is not able to perceive words or listens to condolences only out of politeness, without feeling the slightest relief. At the same time, it is very important that someone is with him, although he still needs to be isolated.

In my opinion, the most effective help in such a situation is simply to ask if you need help and how. Or unobtrusively ask: “May I be with you?”, “How do you feel?” These questions already imply care and support. One should not regret and heal the grieving - only he can know what is best for him.

Often, children who have lost their parents feel guilty for any of their actions or inaction, think that they could influence the situation, but did not. In this state, a person usually seeks confirmation that he has done everything that depended on him.

I need to help him with this.

The death of loved ones, in addition to emotional severity, is also associated with the organization of a funeral, commemoration, communication with relatives, legal issues. Here, the help of friends and relatives is simply necessary, especially when faced with bureaucracy, rudeness and fraud. During the period of grief, a person becomes very vulnerable to pressure and manipulation and needs protection.

How to survive the death of parents

Photo: shutterstock.


In practice, it often happens that there is simply no way to fall out of everyday life. This is what is considered the source of the problem. When a loved one dies, after the shock, a lot of cases immediately appear regarding the funeral, commemoration, notification of relatives, the execution of all legal documents - and all these matters must be resolved. Then a person is faced with delayed grief syndrome. When feelings simply do not have time, they are postponed for some period of time - it can “cover” in a month or more.

And then the compressed spring mechanism works.

As for the terms, everything is individual here, but there are traditional memorial dates - 9 and 40 days. During this time, the primary assimilation of feelings and inclusion in everyday life occurs. The commemoration rituals are meant to symbolically say goodbye to the deceased and support each other at the time of grief over him.

However, the process of living the loss does not end when a person is fully included in social life.

On average, it is generally accepted that the mourning process lasts a year and a half. During this time, the severity of experiences decreases, and a person manages to adapt to those changes that have occurred in life in connection with the death of a parent. If this lasts significantly longer, the person is stuck in one of the stages, you should consult a specialist.



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