Navigating Through the Loss of a Parent

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Family-Parent Death David Garzon CroppedA wave of grief crashes onto a wife who loses her husband, and children get pulled into the undertow. Maintaining strength in these heartbreaking circumstances is crucial, not only for yourself but for your children. They will look to their living parent to be sustained, and for hope.

To help your children get through the loss of a parent take into consideration their age, and seek support from family, friends or groups. The younger the child, the more simple the explanation should be. Talk in easy terms for her to understand, and maintain communication on the subject with her throughout her life. As she grows older, she will be able to understand more.

Look to family and friends for support. Whether it comes in the form of advice, casserole dishes or simply their presence, surrounding yourself and your children with love will help fill in the seemingly desolate times. Support groups like bereavement programs offered through Spectrum Health Medical Services help families to know they are not alone in their suffering.

According to Spectrum Health Bereavement Services, “Loss can shake our foundations, challenge our spiritual beliefs, and drain energy emotionally and physically...Support groups can be a valuable and helpful means of support through grief.”

The grieving process for adult children who lose a parent or both parents is as vast and difficult to traverse, but the same concepts apply. Look to family members and friends of the family for guidance. Focus your energy on remembering happy memories, and carry on family traditions established when late parents were living. It is common for annual, extended family celebrations, especially those around the holidays, to cease when parents are not planning or hosting. Take on the event yourself, or rotate between siblings so that the bonds of family and the channels of support remain and strengthen.

Written by: Erika Fifelski was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, sewing, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. Photo: David Garzon

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