I Lost a Parent, NOT You
"I lost my mother very suddenly a few months ago. She experienced a short illness, during which time I was her caregiver. My mother was only 70 years old, and it is difficult to accept how unexpected and premature her death was. I am just managing day by day.
What I struggle with most is when others break down upon hearing the news of her passing. It feels as though I should be supporting them, but really, I’m barely keeping my head above water managing my own grief.
What do I say when others react so strongly to my loss? I don’t really feel as though I can offer comfort." - READER
My condolences for the loss of your mother. It takes time to acclimate to life without your parent, and sudden losses have an especially large impact. Your mother’s death was a surprise to you, and is also a surprise to those who find out after you, even if they were not as closely involved. People will react based on who they are. Criers will cry, while stoic individuals will sit quietly. Introverts may stay away or say little. Whatever the reaction, it is normal for those learning of unexpected loss.
One certainty is that most will feel empathy for you and your situation. Still, do not feel that you’re responsible for another’s reaction. You are not responsible to console others while at the same time managing your own grief. Don’t force yourself to offer comfort when you are the one who needs it. It’s not necessary for you to tell people that it will be okay when inside it does not feel that way. Silence may be the best you can offer at this time.
Try to understand that right now, you are raw and almost any comment or perceived odd behavior is going to be difficult to process or accept. Most of us struggle to find the right way to approach the family of the deceased, and because of that we can say awkward things. Try to forgive them because they are most likely doing their best.
It is important that right now, you allow yourself time to be sad and grieve. It will take time to process, and we all do this in our own way. This can be an opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing loss. There are numerous grief groups in communities, where you can find kindred spirits who are living the same or a similar story. Seek out others to support you at this time if it would be helpful. You may need to avoid those who do not provide support or those whose need is too great for you to handle. It is okay to be protective of yourself.
Grief is a journey we all take from time to time. May it be a healing and learning experience for you.
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