Supporting a parent through grief when you’re also grieving

Supporting a parent through grief when you’re also grieving

Supporting anyone through grief is really hard, but when that person is your parent and the person they’re grieving for was someone you were also close to, it’s even tougher.

So how can you be there for your parent while also dealing with your own loss?

Firstly, it’s worth bearing in mind that everyone grieves differently and everyone’s relationship with the person who died is different too. For example, losing a spouse is different to losing a parent and, therefore, it’s important not to assume that you know how your parent feels after their loss.

Supporting your parent
You can help your parent during this difficult time by:

  • Making time for them and sharing your grief together
  • Being understanding and patient
  • Listening to them talk about the person
  • Seeing to their physical needs, such as helping with food shopping or household chores
  • Making sure they receive any extra care they need
  • Encouraging them to look after their wellbeing e.g. eating well, resting and doing relaxing activities
  • Allowing them to express their grief and understanding that all emotions are normal
  • Acknowledging important dates and anniversaries

If you’re concerned about your parent’s health in any way, you can get in touch with their doctor for advice.

Taking care of yourself
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so fill yours first. This means taking care of yourself and making time for your own grief.

Adult children whose parents have died tend to have a lot of responsibilities like organising the funeral, dealing with paperwork, paying bills and looking after the surviving parent.

With this in mind, here are some ways to look after yourself:

  • Let close friends and other family members know what you need from them e.g. support, help with something, to talk or take some time out / away
  • While looking out for your parent, don’t forget yourself and your own health and wellbeing. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest and sleep
  • Join a bereavement support group to talk to others who will understand how you are feeling as they are in the same position as you
  • Inform your doctor about what’s happened so they can help monitor your health if needed
  • Take time out to do things you enjoy – such as exercise, hobbies and spending time with people who make you feel good
  • Express your feelings when you need to and share your grief with your parent – having a good cry together can help you let your feelings out.

You may also be worrying about your own mortality, for example after losing a parent, as this reminds us that we’re no longer children. This can be a difficult adjustment to make and you may need some support to deal with this.

If you need more help to cope with your own grief or support for someone who is dependent on you, we’re always here. Get in touch via our helpline on 08081 311 333 or chat with us online.