Grief and monumental life changes.

How do you handle losing parents? I'm having a hard time calling myself an orphan. I'm parenting 3 kids alone. I'm dealing with financial strain and inconsistent siblings. I feel alone..
Asked by LO

Hi LO,

It makes sense that you feel alone. Losing your parents at any time in your life can cause you to feel like an orphan. Our parents are our anchors to the world. We have never known a time that they were not present. Your parents knew you all of your life; they were present for all of your accomplishments, challenges and heartaches. They were the witnesses to your life. Now without them you may feel adrift trying to find how to anchor yourself to this complex world without their presence, trying to learn how to navigate without the support your parents may have provided. 

Grief can cause a number of reactions. Psychologically you may be experiencing a combination of anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, and despair. You may be struggling with sleep, eating, overeating, or taking care of other physiological needs. In addition, you may be having trouble motivating yourself to engage in your typical activities, increasing difficulty with parenting and addressing your financial needs. And through all of this you may be experiencing a preoccupation with thoughts about your parents; feeling the loss of their absence. Everything you are experiencing is a natural response while you are going through the process of grief.  

Everyone's grief process is individual. Sure, there will be some commonalities amongst people who have grieved or are grieving, but your process is individual and unique. Therefore it is very important that you allow yourself to grieve in your own way. Do not discount your process or allow others' expectations of how you "should" grieve interrupt that process. Respect your unique process. 

Be flexible with yourself. Let yourself talk about your emotions if you are feeling the need. However, if you don't feel like talking, give yourself permission to set boundaries with others by asking others to respect your time until you are ready to open up about your emotions. Open up when you feel ready. 

Allow yourself to talk about your parents and encourage others to do the same. Your parents are still important to your life. They have passed but they are not gone from your heart, mind and life. It is okay to keep the memory of them alive. 

Remember grieving is a long process. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to cry when you need to cry. It is okay to feel like you are struggling. It is okay to give yourself time to rest and let your heart heal. It is okay to lean on others and ask for support. If others are not able to be the support you need, join a grief support group, engage in therapy, or ask friends to show up for you. 

A resource that you may find helpful is . They provide information regarding grief and  in-person, as well as, online groups. Building your support system, creating a safe place and soft landings that will embrace you as you are and where you are is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Others have been through what you are going through. Let them in. They will help you navigate this new world absent your parents. Don't hesitate to invite others to wrap their support around you.