Back in July, I experienced the hardest loss of all. My dad passed away after a long battle with cancer, finally gained his wings, and became an angel.
When I first found out that my dad had passed, I felt numb. I didn’t cry, I didn’t scream, and I wasn’t upset. I just stayed silent because I didn’t know what to think. I went home and baked brownies, and managed to head to work the next day. It was all my personal way of coping with my grief.
When my friends found out that I had lost my dad, they showed me so much love. But some people didn’t know how to react when I mention my dad. So here are six things to remember when your friend loses a parent:
1. The reality of the loss takes a while to set in.
My dad passed a few months ago, the reality that he’s gone still hasn’t fully hit me yet. I often feel like I’m on “airplane mode,” just going through the motions of life without him. Some days, I even try to call my dad, or think to ask him a question and it takes a second for me to realize that he won’t answer. The loss may not sink in for awhile, but that’s OK.
2. Some days are easier than others.
Some days, I’m smiling and feel like I’m on top of the world. But other days, I see or hear something that reminds me of my dad, and I burst out crying. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to deal with losing a loved one.
3. You can mention my dad to me.
Since my dad passed, I feel like friends tend to shy away from speaking about him because they’re afraid that I might feel sad. But in reality, I’d love to talk about my dad. Tell me funny stories about your favorite memories with my dad or tell me when you randomly think about him. Unless I tell you that those memories are too much to handle, mentioning the good times with my dad will always make me smile.
4. I haven’t felt like myself lately, but I am trying to cope.
I look around and I can see that people worry about me. I know that people can see past my smile and know that losing my dad has made me feel different than usual. I’m sure that it’s hard to see me in this state, but please know that I’m still trying to pull myself out of a dark place. If I seem distant sometimes, please don’t take my mood personally. Some days it’s just hard to get out of my own head.
5. A hug goes a long way.
Hugs are amazing, especially when they come from someone who loves you. If you see that I look “down” or you just want to hug me, go right ahead! I’ll never turn down a warm hug, and most days, I could really use one. Sometimes my tears are silent, and it’s nice to know that people see past them and will show me affection in the hard moments.
6. Don’t tell me to “get over it.”
Thankfully, no one’s told me to “get over” my loss. But sadly, other people who lose relatives hear this a lot. Telling someone who lost a family member or close friend to “get over it” is incredibly insensitive. Losing such an amazing person is devastating. So instead of telling us to “get over” our loss, hug your loved ones a bit tighter the next time you see you them. The truth is, losing my dad is the most painful thing I’ve faced in my life, so please be sympathetic.
If your friend or family member has lost someone they love and you’re not sure how to help, keep these tips in mind. Follow your friend’s lead, but also know that they’ll always appreciate your support as they cope with their loss.