A dear friend recently lost his father. His dad had a debilitating illness that lasted a decade. When a parent declines, and often the roles reverse, you grieve over time for the parent you have lost. You may assume that you have already mourned your loss, so it can be incredibly shocking to learn that after the death, the loss is piercingly painful.
I want to comfort my friend and tell him that though he is devastated, it will get better. But these words are of little comfort right now as it is hard to focus past the pain. Instead, I’m sharing some hard-earned words of wisdom to help him chart the course:
1. You have to mourn a loss in order to heal, so allow yourself to feel the pain and work through the process, no matter how difficult.
2. Take care of yourself; get plenty of rest; eat as healthy as possible and walk or get some form of exercise every day.
3. See your friends and seek out listeners. You’re going to talk your way through your grief and, in doing so, will need to share your story over and over. Find friends, loved ones or colleagues willing to listen.
4. Don’t get back in the saddle too quickly. Be conscious of duties and activities that you just can’t handle right now. It’s easy to make mistakes and find you are not up to the task when your mind is so distracted.
5. If you’re looking for outlets to blunt the pain, try physical ones. Play tennis or racquetball, take an aerobics class or hit the gym.
6. Keep a notebook or online journal. It may seem impossible that you’ll forget details of your loved one, but over time you might. Jot down your favorite memories, your loved one’s stories and the qualities and idiosyncrasies you want to remember.
7. Keep their memory close by finding something of your loved one that you would like to wear, use or see every day.
8. Lastly, always remember you’re not alone. Others have taken this journey and are ready to lend their support. Just seek us out.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Mary Thompson