The death of a parent: how to deal with it?

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Joe Dispenza
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The death of a parent: how to deal with it?

It doesn't matter if the relationship was good, bad or virtually non-existent. The death of a parent disrupts our inner world. If we can deal with it in a healthy way, it can be an event that will help us grow.

Last update: April 23, 2021

The death of a parent is one of the most complex moments in a person's life. It doesn't matter how old we are or how good or bad the relationship was. Even a distant or absent parent leaves a deep void that makes us experience a series of feelings and emotions that are difficult to process and manage.



The death of a parent forces us to mentally reposition ourselves in the world. For some time, our place in the world will no longer be well defined. Furthermore, we must also change the perception we have of ourselves. Following the loss, we will never be the same again.

Even though we have a closer relationship with our mother, the truth is that the figure of the father is also decisive. Even when the parent is not around, we can feel his presence. He is a guide and a protector, even if in reality he is not. Our mind has given him that role without realizing it.

“Like a sea, around the sunny island of life, death sings its endless song day and night”.

-Rabindranath Tagore-

The death of a parent changes our identity

We become different people when we lose a parent, it does not matter if we are 30, 40 or 50 years old when the loss occurs. When our parents are alive, part of us remains tied to our childhood. We feel that our life is led by another being.



With the death of a parent, it is as if a small earthquake occurs for our identity. Here it is up to us now to lead future generations. This frightens and causes a feeling of loneliness.

Therefore, a process of building a new identity begins. This does not happen automatically or without suffering. We need to build a new perspective of ourselves and find a new place in the lives of others. When a parent dies, it is as if we have lost an anchor. For a while we will live as if we were adrift.

Nostalgia for what has never been

We will never have another parent, the loss is irreversible. Having had a good relationship or not, it won't stop us from feeling nostalgic for what it never was. Something inside of us does not want to give up ideals and does not accept what has happened.

If the parent in question was loving and close to us, we need to look at everything he has given us in perspective: his sacrifices and efforts to make us happy. Perhaps we may think that we have not been able to adequately reciprocate those generous gifts, that we should have given him more love, more attention or more happiness.

If the relationship wasn't idyllic, things get more difficult. In this case, it is normal for the cracks in that relationship to start weighing more. We no longer have the possibility to shorten distances or to tell him that despite the different points of view we love him so much.


Something similar happens in the case of absent parents. Today, to that absence experienced with suffering for a long time, the certainty of total absence is added. It is as if we are forced to close a cycle that has never really opened.


The imperative to move forward

No matter what the circumstances, the death of a parent always causes us pain. Sometimes, however, it will allow us to change in a positive way. Without him, aspects of our personality can emerge that were inhibited by his presence.


Either way, the suffering of a parent's death will last a long time. As the months and years go by, however, it will be more tolerable. We must understand that it is a perfectly normal phase; we may be 50, but it will always hurt and scare us.

Psychologist Jeanne Safer advises us to reflect on the legacy left by the deceased parent by asking ourselves the following five questions: “What did he give me?”, “What do I want to keep from his person?”, “Is there something I want to eliminate?”, “ Am I sorry for something I did not receive? ”,“ What I wanted to give and didn't give? ”.


Answering these questions allows us to identify the gaps and gaps. It also allows us to find suitable strategies to address the gaps and shortcomings. With the death of a parent, new possibilities for growth open up. The smartest thing to do is take advantage of it.

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