Dealing with Stuff
Getting support after your parent has died
- Because the grieving process lasts for a long time, what that support looks like may change over time and asking for it may get harder.
- Especially if you or others think that you should be ‘over it’ by a certain time.
- Where you get your support from now that your parent has died may be different to when they were living with cancer.
Support can come in all sorts of ways
It might be:
- Allowing you to talk openly and honestly about what is going on.
- Helping you keep up with school, uni or TAFE.
- Going with you to the cemetery.
- Texting or messaging you simply to let you know that they know things are hard.
- Remembering anniversaries, birthdays or other special events.
- Not being scared to mention your mum or dad’s name.
- Inviting you over just to hang out (or maybe even feed you).
- Respecting your right to deal with your grief your own way.
- Offering to be part of any rituals that you may want to hold.
Everyone in your family will be dealing with their own grief and they may not have the energy or the understanding to give you the support you need.
However it can be a big relief if you can do the following with them:
- Admit to not doing as well as you would like to be (or are pretending to be).
- Open up about what’s going on.
- Talk about things that are hard.
- Admit that you don’t have all the answers.
- Be honest and let your guard down.
Who can you get support from?
It may take a few shots at finding the right person, but it’s worth making the effort.
A good support person will:
- Listen to you.
- Not judge you.
- Be there when you need them.
- Keep things private (if and when you ask).
- Be honest with you.
- Have a sense of humour.
- Not tell you that they know how you feel.
- You may find that your other parent is able to offer you all the support you need.
- However, they will be dealing with their own grief and you may be concerned about giving them something else to worry about.
- Letting them know how they can support you is good idea – even if that is simply telling them that you don’t want to talk about it or that you are getting support from somewhere else.
- You may be concerned that your parent has enough to deal with. Sometimes you get on better with an aunt, uncle or grandparent than you do with your parent. (That’s okay.)
- Maybe you have things in common, are closer in age (alright not with your grandparents) or they just get you. Use these people to get support.
- Your mum or dad’s friends can be a great source of support.
- If they have been a part of your life for a while then they will have some understanding of what is going on.
- It is even possible that mum or dad spoke with them before they died. Don’t be afraid to ask them to help you out.
- You don’t have to be crazy or not coping to see a counsellor. Even if you have the support of family and friends, a counsellor will listen to you and you can say things to them that you may not want to say to anyone else.
- The best thing about them is that you can’t hurt their feelings or piss them off. Plus they are professionally skilled in helping people work out ways to cope with anger, sadness and fear.
- You can try a school counsellor, the Student Health Unit at uni, or a private counsellor. (Your local doctor can organise this and in some cases you won’t have to pay.) If you work, your workplace my have an Employee Assistance Program where you can access counsellors free of charge.
- Your family doctor may have known you and your family for a while, so they might understand what is happening for you.
- Doctors not only treat physical problems, they can help with offering you support.
- Your grief can also cause physical symptoms and it is important to keep yourself healthy. You don’t need your parent’s permission to see a doctor if you are over 14, just your Medicare number (not even the card).
- Maybe there is a particular teacher you have a good relationship with. Don’t be afraid to let them know what is going on.
- They work with young people all the time and are usually great listeners and can be an advocate (someone who can help or represent you) at school or uni.
- Some friends can be great at giving you what you need but you may need to ask. Companionship can be very comforting. Just having people know what is happening in your life can help.
- Priests, pastors, rabbis, imams or other religious leaders are experienced in supporting people in their communities. You may already be involved in a youth group. They might be able to give you exactly what you are looking for.
- Sound lame? There are organisations that work with young people who are in the same boat as you. This might not grab you at first (others have said the same thing) but once you actually go you might change your mind.
- They say the best support comes from those who have been there and done that.
- There are lots of online support groups, blogs and forums for people who have had someone close to them die.
- It can be helpful to read other people’s stories and know that you’re not alone in what you are feeling or experiencing.
- Being anonymous and not actually having to ask anyone for support may be easier for you.
Remember: Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. No-one expects you to get through this on your own and other people really do want to help.
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