What’s the best way to cope with grief?

Last year on June 10th we lost my dad. He was 58 and the most amazing person you could ever dream of.
I was living in Australia when he got his diagnosis, brain cancer. I came straight home and my mum, sister and I cared for him, with the help of many amazing professional carers for 6 short months until his passing.
At first, naturally, it was horrific and the worst time imaginable. No one can prepare you for that physical pain and confusion.
In November I met my partner, Steve, and it looked like life was getting “back on track”, my mum was coping better, my sister and her partner started planning their wedding. We had things to get excited about.
Recently me and Steve started looking at places to live, which would mean mum would be living on her own for first time in her 60 years of life. So it’s huge. And for some reason this seems to have sparked and spiraled my emotions and also my mums, which I fear rub off on each other.
Emotionally, I’m back where I was last year. I can’t stop crying. I miss my dad. He’s all I can think about and I fear for my mum that she’s going to be lonely. I feel a great sense of responsibility, which I honestly don’t mind but I want him here to be with her. I’m not functioning or thinking normally at the minute. I’m not coping. Everyday life feels like I’m wading through quick sand and yet at the same time I’m in a heightened state of anxiety. I can’t even explain how I’m feeling but I don’t like it and I need to do something to change it.
I think but I don’t know, that’s it’s because life is continuing, but dads isn’t and I’m finding that the most complex thing, I can’t get my head around it but it should be simple.
Asked by Mulan

I'm sorry to hear you lost your dad, it sounds like it was a very traumatic time for you.  Perhaps being aware of your mum's grief and her living alone, has triggered the original feelings of grief for you.  It is hard for your mum to live on her own for the first time in 60 years, but it is also important you are able to live your life too.

It is only a year ago since you lost your dad and I think it is normal for feelings of deep grief to resurface when a major life event happens such as you moving out of the family home. The crying, wading through quick sand and confusion are all very normal in grief.  It does sound like it's hard for you to think of your life going ahead when your dad's has come to an end. It must be hard to imagine a future life without him in it and what that means for you and your mum. You miss him and want him back. 

It might be helpful for you to think about Tonkin's model of grief.  His theory is that when you first lose someone the grief feels big and the life around it feels small.  In time the life around the grief gets bigger but the grief doesn't go away, it stays the same size.  This is helpful in accepting that grief is now a part of your life but you can build your life around it.  Your life doesn't have to stop because your dad isn't here and you also can't put your life on hold for your mum either.  Think of grief like the yolk in a fried egg, at first the white around the yolk is small, but eventually the white gets bigger.  However the yolk (grief) stays the same as it always was.  You will always miss your dad but it is ok to move on with your life and make plans as well.

Another way of looking at grief is to think of life as a river. You are floating along the river of life calmly and then suddenly you lose a loved one and you fall straight down a waterfall. It takes a while to get your bearings and you feel you are constantly being bashed on the rocks.  Eventually the bashing gets less and less but occasionally a rock will still hurt you or you will be consumed by a wave. Eventually you leave the rocks behind and the water feels calmer again with less waves. You are then able to continue your journey in the river of life but every now and then something might trigger you and you might find yourself in the rocks again or hit by a wave.  Remind yourself this is temporary and this is very normal, especially if there is a big life event happening. 

Take time to feel the difficult feelings but don't let them totally consume you. All that you are saying you are feeling is normal but those feelings will pass.

(Level, 5, Psychotherapeutic, Counselling, Level, 4, Therapeutic, Counselling)