The relationships we have with our parents are complex. Unconditional love isn’t something we truly understand until we feel it ourselves, and it’s something all of us have taken for granted at some point or another. Parents take care of us when we can’t take care of ourselves, and they provide us with the tools to live on our own. Being a parent doesn’t just mean providing, it means teaching so that we can lead productive lives outside the bounds of their control.
When we lose a parent, even if we’re adults in control of our own lives, things change. It feels almost like losing a support beam to the very structure of our own being. We no longer have that resource for advice, support, or even love. All we can do is take the lessons they taught us earlier in life, and make them proud by utilizing that knowledge to the best of our abilities.
Here are four common things that can change after the death of a parent.
1. You Can Become Physically Ill
After the death of a parent, you can actually feel grief manifest itself in a physical form. This isn’t something many people are prepared to handle, and it can make coping with the recent loss that much more stressful. Some people will experience nausea at the very thought of the loss, and this can last days, weeks, or even months.
2. It Can Pull the Family Apart
The death of a parent can cause a split within the rest of the family. When I lost my grandmother, I watched as my mother grew further apart from her siblings; there were no longer family gatherings at the house for Christmas or Thanksgiving. It almost seemed like the family lost the adhesive that kept everyone together.
3. The Memories Can Be Bitter
Although you won’t regret any amount of time you spent with your father or mother, you can start to feel bitter toward certain memories. Many people who experience the death of a parent find themselves wishing that it would have happened sooner. It’s not out of regret, it’s simply that there would have been less memories to haunt them after their passing.
4. Only Others Who Have Lost a Parent Will Understand
When you lose a parent, it can be hard to talk about it with your friends who haven’t experienced the loss themselves. The only people who will truly understand your pain are those who have also lost a parent. It’s like being in a club that you never agreed to join; although you don’t want to be involved, only people in the club can offer you any real support.
If you’ve recently lost a parent, or you lost a parent years ago, understand that their love, their lessons, and their support live on through you.