Monday, June 19, 2006

Grieving the Death of a Mother or Father

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have now passed.  These days are nationally known as dates set aside to honor our mothers and our fathers.  We give flowers, gifts and cards.  We take them out to brunch or have a family BBQ.  However we decide to celebrate these days, we incorporate some form of letting our mothers and fathers know how much we love them, how much they mean to us and how they have impacted our lives. 


But what about those of us who have experienced the loss of our mother or father?  How do we feel as we see other families celebrating with their parents and we can’t?  These feelings can have a wide range.  Some can feel an overwhelming sadness over their loss, others can feel anger and even some can experience a jealousy.  These feelings can also be intensified according to how soon the loss occurred and how close we were to our mother or father.  These are all normal feelings to have, particularly on these significant days. 


No matter how old we are, the death of a parent is a significant loss.  As such, we need to be gentle with ourselves in our grief and allow ourselves to feel all the yucky emotions that will come.  We are learning that avoiding these emotions will not result in them going away and never coming back.  What will happen is that they will come with such a surprising force, when we least expect it, and when it’s most inconvenient.  We need to acknowledge these feelings and find a way to express them before we can start to heal.


So what can we do on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day if we can’t give them gifts or have parties?  We can remember them, and honor them.  Find what is meaningful to ourselves and incorporate it into a healing ritual that will memorialize them.  Some find comfort and a sense of connectedness by visiting the gravesite.  Others like to meditate before their loved ones picture and a light a candle in their memory.  Still others like to give a gift to their loved one’s favorite charity in honor of them.  Be creative!  Thinking about what would make your mother or father happy, is in itself an honoring. 


We also find that by performing honoring rituals and memorials, we gain a sense of closeness to our loved one, and sometimes peace, even if it’s only for a brief moment.  We may want to indulge in these activities more often than on special events or days and by doing so, we keep our loved ones in our hearts, every day.  Now every day becomes Mother’s Day and Father’s Day! 


Until next week – Be gentle with yourself.




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