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Dear Jenn,

I can honestly say there is nothing you can do to prepare for the loss of a beloved and cherished parent. I never believed my dad would die on me. He was 84 and had a heart attack and stroke. But I thought he was so strong, he would live to a 100. I was in denial. My dad had kids in his late 40s. So instead of having a dad till I was in my 50s or even 60s, I feel like I lost my dad too soon.

I wish there was a way to prepare, but I don't think there is. I had read a little about what to expect with heart failure patients, but until the moment I was told my father had died. I had no idea. I was numb and in a fog. Almost four months later, I still feel like I'm in a fog. This grief journey has been very hard.
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I had the same fears when my parents were alive. I was so close to both of them and I couldn't imagine my life without them. I cared for them both, at different times, until they each died. Their deaths were devastating to me.

I guess my suggestion would be to keep yourself healthy: emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually (if appropriate).

If you're in a situation where you don't or can't get out to be with friends and/or family try to change that. You need respite. We all need respite from caregiving. When I cared for my dad my world revolved around him and I've since realized that wasn't healthy. I did have a volunteer job but I wish I had made more of an effort to have my own life. To build a life that would be there when my dad was gone.

Sometimes it's difficult to care for our own health when we're caring for someone else's. I believe in a strong mind/body connection. When we're struggling emotionally or mentally it can affect our physical health and when we're struggling physically with illness it can affect our emotional and mental wellbeing. Try to take care of yourself.

Losing a parent is devastating for most people but it's also a natural part of life. It happens to everyone. But if, after a period of time, you feel that you're just not healing don't hesitate to seek out grief counseling. But give yourself time to grieve and mourn. It's going to hurt. There's no way of getting around that. Try not to block that pain. We have to feel it and experience it in order to get through it.

And this is a great place to come to share how you're feeling.
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