10 Ways to Help Someone Coping with a Parent’s Death

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The worst thing that can ever happen to a person is the death of a parent. As per the laws of nature, it is evident that Death is inevitable. Every life form on the face of earth is bound by the leash of mortality. When and how a person may die, is also one of the most unpredictable things that nature has left for us. We can never, no matter how much we think we can try, get back our loved ones from the grave. Death may be natural, due to aging or illness, or accidental. Nevertheless, it causes the same amount of pain and grief to the loved ones. For a grown-up, who has lost a parent, it is still consolable, because of the absence of the parent-person dependency and also that the person has family of his own to care about. It is never easy to handle the loss of a parent and it takes a great deal of support from the rest of the family and loved ones to cope with the bereavement. Though a lot depends on the age group we are dealing with, there are basic ways one can help someone cope with a parent’s death.

10.  Life must move on

With the death of a parent, the whole world seems collapsing upon the person. Though the initial mourning is inevitable and essential to ease the pain, the grief needs to go away with time. Show your friend that his/her parent has left the whole world behind him. It would be a shame if it got wasted in grieving for what is lost rather than achieving what his/her parent would have wanted him/her to. There are great personalities, whose parents could not live till the end to see their children achieve the highest level of success in life. But it did not prevent them from being what they are today. So, at the end of the day the person has to accept the absence of the parent and yet toil to move forward in life. Every weak soul deserves motivation and you will be doing a great job if you can provide him/her with the right inspiration and enthusiasm.

9.  Personal care

If you really want to help your grieving friend, than take the matter personally. Be sure to check into your friend’s activities regularly. Make him/her feel to be a part of your family as well. Offer your help not because he/she needs it, but because you actually want to. Make the person regain normal life as soon as possible, by sharing your lifestyle with him/her. It is never possible to “get over” the death of a parent, but your affection and personal attention can help the person to recover faster from the trauma and grief. The bereaved person may look fine on the outside but he/she may still be struggling with the loss on a deeper scale. Make sure you do not compel the person to put up appearances of being fine. Show him to be strong even in the stressful situation.

8.  Show the world around

friends world around

What can be more inspiring than the world around us! Show your friend that life around us keeps moving on. Staying locked in a room or sitting at a desk can really stress things up and stir feelings of pain and sorrow. Take your friend out regularly, at least for a walk or coffee. The freshness of the atmosphere is a natural healer. Plan some excursion that your friend might actually love to join. Help him/her make new friends, because their presence will sure make the person feel better and not concentrate much on the loss suffered. You can also help your friend pick up some new hobby through which he/she can remember the lost parent. Diary writing and album making are quite effective pastimes to keep involved to make the grief gradually fade away.

7.  Indulge in activities


Grief will stay as long as we can think we can keep it. So, the best away to cope up with grief is to indulge in the activities of a normal life. As a friend, you can always offer some help in the work of that person, or even involve him/her in your daily work. As the person watches you lead a normal life, he/she will also feel motivated to get involved into a normal lifestyle. The person might feel guilty about receiving so much attention, fear being a burden, or be too depressed to reach out. So, you are the one who needs to take the initiative to check into your friend’s life and offer assistance. On holidays, you can even offer a hand with the household activities. When helping a child, it is very essential that you keep the child involved in studies and other recreational activities to prevent the grief from piling up in the hearts.

6.  Avoid emotional breakdown

The phase after the death of a parent becomes very difficult when the sudden loneliness begins to haunt the person. The guests and relatives remain only for a limited period of mourning. But the grief that the son/daughter feels is incomparable to anyone’s sorrow. It actually takes quite some time before the person can actually accept the absence of the parent, and learn to live with it. It is common for the grieving person to feel depressed, confused, disconnected from others, but if the grief does not fade away with time, but alienates the person from normal life, it might lead to clinical depression. Check for signs like extremes of bitterness, anger or guilt, alcohol and drug abuse, hallucinations and feelings of hopelessness. In such cases, make the person feel how you feel about life. Let him/her share a part of your happy life, which may help the person to enjoy life. Try to make cheerful conversation to take away feelings of guilt and self-destructiveness.

5.  Show guidance in light of the loss


For every person, parents are the guiding beacons of light. Loss of any one of the parent may cripple the person and prevent hi/her from making progress in life. For children, there is also a risk of them going astray and ruining their future. Such a situation call for the intervention of your support and guidance. Be it studies, work or the normal course of life, you can always offer not just an advice but also some critical guidance that will surely help the person cope up with the new way of life. You can even provide monetary support if you think the person may be suffering from economic problems, but is too modest to ask for any such help. In these times the person becomes more vulnerable to being misled by various sources. So, help your friend make the correct choices.

4.  Help preserve good memories


Memories are immortal. They are in fact the most prized possessions when the loved ones are gone forever. So, it is very important that you help your friend feel the presence of the parent through the memories that has been left behind. Help your friend recollect and remember the good times that he/she had with the parent. It often helps to see a photograph or hold a gift in hand that can relate to the loved one. When the initial grieving phase is over, it is very important to keep the person as cheerful as possible. Also, grief may reawaken on some special days or occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or family milestones. Be sensitive to the person on such occasions and let the person know that you are there for whatever support he/she may need. Help create new cheerful memories that can help ease the pain for the loss incurred on the life of your friend.

3.  Acknowledge the feelings


The person you are trying to help is suffering from an emotional turmoil. The sense of grief actually confuses all other senses. It is hence very important that you let the person vent out the emotions. Allow the person to open up, cry in front of you, get angry or break down. The bereaved should feel free to express his or her feelings without fear of judgment, argument, or criticism. Keep your sense of logic aside while talking to that person. Do not try to reason with that person about what he/she should do to recover. Let your feelings resonate with the grieving atmosphere and help the person from feeling alone and lost. And even if you think the person has recovered from grief, it might actually be that he/she has got accustomed to your support. So, it is always advisable to understand the feelings and never withdraw the comforting support. Never hurt the feelings of a grieving person.

2.  Offer comfort and support


The loss of a parent actually puts the person out of his/her comfort zone. There is a sudden feeling like the most supportive person has been snatched away from his/her life. The sense of void mixed with confusion worsens the grief and suffering. Make your behaviour feel comfortable to the person, so that he/she may readily accept any help that you offer. Don’t let the person feel that you are being dragged into his/her sorrow, but that you willingly support your friend in these hard times. Avoid giving lame advice or claim to know how the person feels. This is such a grief that cannot be shared. You may share your feelings about a similar loss you might have suffered, but offer your assurance without minimising the loss that has been incurred upon your friend.

1.  Present yourself as a patient Listener

patient listener

The worst thing that haunts a person who has lost a parent is loneliness. Every person bears that special connection with parents, which allows him/her to open up and say anything that he/she might want to. With that sudden withdrawal of the emotional contact, the person may feel alienated and cease all forms of communication with the outside world. In such a situation, make your presence felt as a close one, who the person might feel comfortable in speaking with. It is not necessary that you need to say something to console the person. Even if he/she might prefer to suffer in silence, you can always provide support in the form of a compassionate eye contact, a squeeze of a hand or a reassuring hug.  You can always provide the shoulder to cry upon. Under all circumstances, its best to avoid making vague remarks that can actually make the person feel worse about the loss that he/she has suffered. 

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I am an Electronics Engineering student at NIT Durgapur.

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