Dealing with death is never easy. When your best friend’s cousin dies, it is very sad, and you go to the funeral, and console your friend. But, even though the occasion is sad, you are still detached and removed from it, because you are not really close to that person or involved. Suddently, one day, you get the phone call that your parent has passed away. In a moment, your life has changed, and will never be the same. Here are some thoughts on how to cope with this overwhelming sadness, from someone who has been there.
When I got the phone call that dreaded day, to come home, please, because they thought my father was slipping away, my whole world changed in that very instant. As a child, you look up to your big, strong, loving father and think that nothing in the world can take him away. He is your protector and will always be there. I held my father’s hand as I saw him take his last breath, and felt my insides crush with pure grief and fright. I was then embarking on a journey that would be many years in length.
My family and I made all the decisions, planned the wake, funeral, etc. and I went through the motions with a somber look and never shed a tear in front of the others. It was important to me to be strong for them, and help out wherever I could. I saved the crying and despair for my private moments and my closest friends.
After everything was complete in my hometown, and several weeks had passed, I knew it was time to take action to get myself right and back on track again. I went back to work with a vengeance. I even scheduled myself for extra hours. What this did for me was put me into contact with a lot of different people, which made me feel better, and increased my happiness level. At the same time, I was getting paid more, which was a big plus. These two factors helped my mental and emotional health. Connecting with others was a great boost for me.
In my off time, I wanted to be very careful. My father and I were extrememly close and this was a very depressing time for me, so I wanted to give myself time to mourn, but not too much time. This meant filling my free time with good, positive experiences. I went to the local bookstore and treated myself to several books I had been looking at lately. Now was the time to get started on those. My “party” friends that liked to mostly drink when we went out had been calling, but I turned them down. Instead, I made plans with “fitness” friends, to get in some exercise and good conversation, and keep me away from boozing it up and feeling more depressed.
New Year’s Eve came. Most of my friends had already made plans, so instead of heading to a drunken party, I stayed home with my pets and my books and drank cranberry juice instead of alcohol. This was an excellent move on my part. An interesting thing I had noticed that was after the funeral, several people had mentioned that I could go to the doctor to get pills to “help me through” this rough spot. I thanked them for their concern, but I knew that I would never choose that route. I wanted to feel the pain, digest it, and get through it. If I had some sleepless nights or a bout of tears, so be it. It was the rite of passage that I needed to have. No amount of pills or alcohol could heal the wounds inside of me. Only the passage of time could complete that job.
So I filled my days with works, exercise, my pets, and good friends. I tried to stay on a sleep schedule, getting up and going to bed at the same time each night. I tried to drink plenty of water and have healthier meals, such as salads and fruits. All of these factors worked together over a period of months, and then for a couple of years, to help me manage the stress of this death.
Whenever I would run into someone through work or otherwise that had also suffered the loss of a parent, I would try to talk to them a little to find out how they had dealt with things. It was always helpful to get another point of view, so that I could help myself handle my situation better. Talking to others about shared experiences really works wonders.
If you have experienced the death of a parent, please know that even though you may feel alone, you are not. It is something most all of us have to go through, unfortunately. But being strong and handling it as your own best friend is truly the best defense. It is important to allow yourself to mourn and grieve. But at the same time, you cannot wallow in a pit of despair. You have to just keep living. This is what your parent would surely want you to do.
Be your own greatest supporter. Take walks. Eat right, including fruits, vegetables, and water. Get on a exercise program. Read books. Listen to music. Love your pets. Love the parents that you do have and treasure them. Let them know how much you love them. Put these suggestions into play and you will come out of a depressing situation, a much stronger and happier person, mentally, physically, and emotionally.