Losing an Estranged Parent
Losing a parent is tough, regardless of your relationship with them. You may not expect yourself to be heavily affected by the loss of an estranged parent, but this is not always the case. Often, losing an estranged parent can lead to a whirlwind of emotions that create confusion, overwhelm, and make your thoughts and feelings difficult to process. Even if you feel as though you have already grieved the loss of your relationship with them, you may still experience some complicated feelings about their death.
There are many reasons a relationship with your parent may have become estranged. Maybe there was a conflict the two of you could just not get past. This is a fairly common reason for parents and their children to develop estranged relationships. Sometimes, arguments lead to tension and conflict that can significantly damage your relationship.
Maybe that parent decided to create the distance themselves, deciding that they are not willing to partake in the responsibilities of being a parent. Perhaps it was for some other, unique reason. Regardless of the reason behind your estrangement from your parent, feeling grief or other intense emotions from losing them is not uncommon or something to feel ashamed about.
Sometimes, you may not even realize that what you are experiencing is grief. Grief can show up in many different ways, including through feelings of anger, guilt, or sadness. If you are grieving an estranged parent, the emotions you are experiencing may become confusing because you may be telling yourself that there is no way that is what you are feeling.
Why Are You Grieving Your Estranged Parent?
As stated earlier, it is not uncommon to grieve the loss of an estranged parent. This does not mean that the grief does not create a confusing mix of emotions. There are many different reasons you may be feeling grief about losing your estranged parent.
You may be grieving the loss of your estranged parent because any chance of reconciling with them is now gone. Regardless of the reasons behind your estrangement from them, you may come to the realization that you have held out hope for a chance that, while the two of you may not have been on the best terms, you would one day be able to mend your relationship. With the loss of your estranged parent comes the loss of any hope for reconciling your relationship. Knowing this can make you feel a rollercoaster of emotions like sadness, regret, or guilt.
You may find yourself feeling as though you are missing a sense of closure and as though many words have now been left unsaid. Your grief may lead to thoughts about what could have been had you just said that perfect thing or acted in a different way. Grief has a way of distorting reality to lead you down the path of regret and guilt, despite not having any idea of the outcome taking any “what if” actions could have had.
Your grief might also have less to do with losing your parent and more to do with feeling as though you have lost an essential piece of yourself. Even if you do not have a great relationship with the parent who has passed, they will likely feel like they were a large piece of the puzzle that has made you who you are.
You can also feel grief for the pain your loved ones are feeling regarding your parent’s death. Feeling empathy for the people you love as they grieve the loss of somebody they cared for is a natural and healthy response you will encounter throughout your lifetime, even if you may feel that the pain is not your own.
Tips for Dealing with Losing an Estranged Parent
Experiencing the loss of an estranged parent will likely be a challenging and confusing time for you. You may wonder how you should treat the people around you who are mourning their death. You may be surprised at the wide range of emotions you find that you are experiencing. You may find yourself confused about how to even react to the news. Everybody has different coping mechanisms for dealing with situations like this, but sometimes, we all just need a little bit of advice to help us get through tough times.
If you are confused about how to send your condolences to those who loved your parent, you can begin by reaching out to those you care about who may be grieving them. You can give them a call or send a text to check up on how they are handling the loss. If there are family members you care for but are hesitant to reach out to, a quick text or letter expressing your condolences is a kind gesture to make.
If you are experiencing a confusing whirlwind of emotions, there are a few steps you can take to help get you through. These include:
Reach out to a loved one. Sometimes, the best thing we can do in tough times is seek the comfort of a friend. If you feel ready, talking to them about the emotions and thoughts that are running through your mind can be very helpful in helping you develop a better understanding of your emotions.
Write your thoughts and feelings down. If you are experiencing feelings of confusion or are not ready to talk to somebody else about how you are feeling, writing down your thoughts and emotions can also be very helpful in understanding your feelings about the situation.
Take care of yourself. Do your best to keep up with your mental and physical health. Talk to somebody if you need to. If you need time away, take it. Regardless of your relationship, losing a parent can be painful. You deserve to take care of yourself and work on your healing.
Seek help. If your feelings about your loss are negatively impacting your quality of life or feel like something you just cannot shake off on your own, reach out to us for support. They can help you better understand your emotions and teach you coping mechanisms that can help you heal.