The harsh truth is that everyone will go through the extreme pain of experiencing a death of a parent.
We as people tend to assume that losing a parent is more painful and traumatic for young children, so we fail to see the hurt and offer an emotional support to the adults who are experiencing it.
When the tragedy happens, the sufferer is prone to feel depressed, detached, and really alone in their grieving process. Sadly, not enough research is done on how to mourn properly such a loss.
Studies have found that losing a parent can indeed have a serious (even dangerous) impact on a person’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Of course, not two people are the same and everyone deals with pain and loss in a different way. Their experiences can depend on the person’s coping mechanisms, past experiences, their environment and culture, their relationship with the parent, and how the death occurred.
A 1970 study looked at over 11,000 individuals to find how losing a parent in childhood affected their adult life and relationships. The researchers compared children who lived in happy families with two stable and healthy parents, children who came from unstable and divorced families, and orphans.
They found that by the age of 30, the percentage of unemployment was highest in orphans. Even those who worked usually were unsatisfied in their job than those from other groups. Also, they were more prone to addictions and experiencing symptoms of chronic depression along with feeling like they will never have what they want in life.
Another research found that the effects from losing a parent can last for about 71 years, and they depend on how the person manages their mourning. Communication, support, and consistency can minimize the suffering and soften the effects from the loss.
A 2003 study which was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry discovered that the process of grieving triggers three parts of the brain – the cerebellum, the frontal cortex, and the posterior cingulate cortex. These parts of the brain regulate appetite and sleep. Therefore, people who are in a mourning tend to experience tightness, dizziness, stomach aches, and headaches because of their unusual sleeping patterns and eating habits.
Moreover, a 2008 study found an astonishing connection between health and unresolved grief such as hypertension, immune disorders, cardiac troubles, and even cancer. Compared with people who healed in the right way from the loss, people who had unresolved grief issues had worse physical and psychological health.
Every person who experiences a loss of someone dear, goes through 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
So, how can one heal properly from such a pain?
If you have lost a parent, remember to value your feelings and take care of yourself. Treat yourself with care and love. Your feelings are real. Your pain is real. Don’t try to bottle your feelings inside you. Let them out. Ask for support from family and friends.
Be genuine. Value your feelings. The pain will eventually pass, but how you heal from it will eventually determine your well-being in the future.