How to Cope with Losing Your Father: Finding Light in Dark Spaces

Monday, August 10, 2020

Father's represent the family's strength and hold a special place in the heart. About 5% of children in the US lose one or both parents before the age of 15. At any age, losing a parent brings about intense feels of grief.

In this article, we discuss how grief shows up in the body and how to cope after losing your father.

How Grief Affects the Body

Depression and anger are most notably associated with grief. Beyond the psychological effects, grief manifests in the body. In fact, unresolved grief has shown a significant rise in doctor's visits years after a loss. If you've recently lost a loved one you may be experiencing any of the following:

  • Inability to sleep or insomnia
  • Sleeping too much or hypersomnia
  • Loss of focus or concentration
  • Stomach pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Illness due to a suppressed immune system
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscular aches and pains

This list is not exhaustive but if you are experiencing these things following a loss, you are not alone.

How to Cope After Losing Your Father

Losing a parent at any age is a traumatic experience. Though as an adult you have more context, the turmoil you may experience is not necessarily less significant than a child's. This is why it is important for you to learn effective coping strategies as you work through the stages of grief.

Acceptance

The first step in coping with the loss of a parent is to accept the fact that you're grieving. Denying grief its rightful place can lead to prolonged and intensified suffering. Try memorializing your father in a way that honors his legacy. Do this by writing something heartfelt, creating a small memorial in your home, or donating his things to organizations he would care about.

Don't immediately get rid of all of their things or erase all evidence of your loved one. This could manifest a form of denial of your grief.

Support

Seek help from others. Grief is a complex emotion that can take years to fully work through. Seeking out a nonjudgmental party can help you move forward in a healthy way. Grief counselors, pastors, close friends, support groups, or therapists are all great options. You want someone who is willing to listen without telling you how you should be feeling.

Sometimes, men feel that they have to endure their emotions on their own. For this reason, support groups for men are a great option to find a safe space to overcome a loss.

Humor

A study of individuals mourning the loss of their spouses revealed that those who regarded humor as important in their daily lives were able to move through bereavement with a heightened sense of well-being. Some cultures don't look favorably on humor during mourning, but with evidence to back it up, consider if it's worth giving it a try. 

Inject humor in your life by spending time with family and friends that bring you joy. Also engage in activities that make you laugh such as reading, watching comedy, or trying something new.

Self-care

Often when we lose someone we love we stop participating in activities that brought us joy. Try to engage in the things you did before you experienced a loss to regain balance. Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing prolonged or worrying symptoms of grief such as chest pains. 

Also, changing your diet, meditating, and exercise can help alleviate some of your physical grief symptoms.

Hope for the Future

Grief is not easy and affects everyone differently. Reach out to loved ones or grief professionals to help you through the process. Don't put added pressure on yourself to just "get over it". Accept that you are grieving and allow yourself to go through the phases. 

For more help or information on following the funeral process, click here.

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