Before I begin, let me say, you never really get over the death of a parent. But, you can get through it. You can continue living your life.
My father passed away from Multiple Sclerosis in November of 2009. I was only months into my freshman year of college. As you can imagine, it was an extremely difficult time. And even that is an understatement.
It’s important to note that everyone handles loss differently, and everyone deals with it in his or her own way. The way I got through the death of my father is not the way you necessarily may get through the passing of your loved one. But, hopefully just one of these tips can help you, and comfort you.
How I got through the death of my dad:
I asked for help.
I am usually not one to ask for help. I figure things out on my own, solve problems on my own, and get through things on my own. Why would I ask for help, and burden someone else, when I could just solve it myself? That’s just the type of person I usually am. But this, this was something I could not do on my own.
I turned to my friends and told them about a thought or song or moment that sparked a memory that would then result in tears. I let my mother know about the times I would run into their room, looking for my father, to tell him something, forgetting that he had passed. I wasn’t shy about the fact that I needed the support of my friends and families.
I vocalized what I couldn’t handle.
Who wants to admit that they can’t handle things? Definitely not me. But, I had to learn; I had to vocalize these things. Certain songs would come on and I had to excuse myself from the room or ask for it to be changed, because it resulted in memories of my father that at the time, still made me extremely sad.
To this day, I know that I can’t handle watching a father-daughter dance, because it’s something I’ll never get to experience with my father. And that’s okay — knowing you can’t handle something, and removing yourself from the situation, is okay.
I let myself be angry.
The key is to just not stay angry. But, you will likely be angry, and don’t try to fight it. It takes time to get through that period, and don’t try to force yourself, or convince yourself, that you’re not angry. Yell, scream, start kickboxing — anything to help get your anger out. You’re going through a difficult, unfair time. It’s okay to be angry. Just remember not to be angry towards individual people — it’s not their fault that this happened. And they’re likely just there trying to help you and support you.
I let myself cry.
If you couldn’t tell already, I am not the type to cry. I am especially not the type to cry in front of other people. But, I let myself cry. I let myself cry in the arms of my loved ones. And sometimes, I even watched something I knew would make me cry, just because I wanted to get the tears out. You’re going through a very sad time, holding it in will just make things worse. Let it out, and don’t be ashamed to.
I reached out to others who lost a parent young.
You are not alone, and you should know that you are not alone. Talking with someone who also lost his or her parent young is more helpful than you may realize. They know what you are going through better than anyone, because they’ve been there.
No, it may not have been the same situation, but they’ve still gone through it. They can potentially be the best sounding board, advice givers, and support system there is. They know what to say, and they know you’re sick of being told “I’m sorry.” I found myself turning to those who lost their fathers young — asking them how they got through it, asking them for advice, asking them to be there for me.
I let myself think of him.
I didn’t try to forget about him just because he was now gone. I encouraged (and still encourage) those around me to talk about him. I immersed myself in the stories of him told by my mother, our family, his friends. I wanted to think of the memories, and rejoice in them, and remember to be grateful that I did have 18 years with him.
I thought of what he would want.
And he would not have wanted me to live in mourning over him (or anyone, for that matter) for the rest of my life. He would want me to go on, graduate college, get the job I’ve always wanted, make a name for myself, and live my life to the fullest.
Remembering his wishes and his want, and knowing that I could fulfill them, is an important part of what got me through. I could be cliche right now and talk about how I know he’s looking down on me, but I’ll refrain from that. Instead, I’ll say that I know he’s happy I’m living my life. And I know he’s happy I persevered.
Again, I cannot stress enough that everyone handles loss differently. But we all have one thing in common — we unfairly lost someone, and likely way too young. It’s a very hard time, and can lead to being in a dark place. But remember, you can get through it, and hopefully one of the above things that helped me get through the rough time, helps you as well.