The Right Way to Grieve a Parent’s Death

A few days after my father died, I attended a party thrown by a friend. Some attendees were surprised to see me and looked a bit confused. While they didn’t say so directly, I could see or maybe my intuition picked up on their thoughts. My dad just died and I was at a party? Was that disrespectful or okay? The answer, my friend, is whatever you believe is right for you. There is no right way to grieve, much the same way that there is no right way to recover from an illness or injury. We grieve, often without thinking about it as emotion and our physical needs determine our progress. We are all resilient to some extent. If we weren’t able to bounce back after difficulties, we would not be able to survive. So, we do, we begin again in our new normal, we find a way to function, hopefully happily after bad things happen. And, we do it at our pace.

I am an extremely resilient person but does that make me better or worse than you who may take more time to recover? No. It makes me different. And, be mindful of this too when you see a grieving friend. What you see may not indicate how they feel inside. Yes, I was at that party but was I simply “over” losing my dad? Of course not. I’m not sure we ever “get over” the loss of any loved one. We just learn to move on, to live in the new normal. It’s not that I didn’t experience pain. I did and it was acute. But I was able to function through it, to put it away from time to time so I could function as a friend, a wife, a mother. Perhaps I didn’t go through the expected “stages” of grief but I’m not convinced everyone does.

I am convinced that making peace with a loved one before his or her death helps mitigate the loss and make the grieving process easier. But even without that, because not everyone gets the gift of peace, you can work toward resilience. Above all, though, the goal is not to judge how quickly anyone (including yourself) bounces back. I hear comments sometimes about how someone fell in love again too quickly after losing a spouse or went back to work too soon after losing a child and I am aghast. Who are we to judge the pain of others? Who are we to determine what is right in so personal a process?

Respect grief in all of its forms and speeds. Let others know you support them in their journey. There is no one path to peace. It may be a long and winding road. It may be a straight shot to recovery. We get there in our own way… but we do get there and it’s okay.P1020516

15 Responses to “The Right Way to Grieve a Parent’s Death

  • Very well articulated!

  • So sorry over your profound loss of your father. Please accept my deepest sympathy. His memory will always be with you. Blessings & hugs!

    • I appreciate your kind thought but he passed a while back. I was just thinking about the grieving process and wanted to share my thoughts.

  • “Who are we to judge the pain of others?” So true. I was subjected to some of that “judging” four years ago when my mom died. Thanks for this lovely post, Debby.

    • People are not always thoughtful when it comes to grief. They think there’s one path to respectfully moving on but the truth is there are as many paths as people. Judging comes too easily, acceptance is a challenge for some. Sorry about your mom. Hope her passing was peaceful in some way.

  • A beautiful truth Deb. We walk in our own shoes. PS you have no ‘like’ button anymore, I retweeted. 🙂 Oh, and did you get the link I pinged you when I wrote a post on “No Shame” and talked about PCOS and linked to that post of your daughter a week ago?

    • Thanks for the heads up about the “like” button. I’ll attempt to figure that out and thanks for the RT too. You are one of the most supportive cyber friends ever and if I don’t say it often enough I am so grateful. I didn’t get the “pinged” link but I’ve been out of touch for a week so it perhaps went over my head somehow. I’ll go check out “No Shame” right now.

      • Thanks Deb! Yes, this wordpress can be very wonky. I didn’t even see this reply from you, had I not popped back over to make sure I read this post after seeing it posted on your FB page. Just ‘liked’ again while I was here. <3

  • You are right, there is no right way to grieve. Each of us must do it in our own way. The most important part is to let yourself go through a grieving process, and in doing so you will one day find peace.

  • Hi Deb. It’s just me again. I’m dropping by my friends blogs to let them know if they’re reading my blogs through WP reader they may not see them there anymore. Please visit this post for explanation

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