Chapter 4: When your parent dies

After a long life

Our parents were killed in a car accident when we were young kids, and my grandmother raised us. When she died, she was 96 and we should have been happy we had her for so long, but we were pretty lost as a family. I really wasn’t prepared for her death.

If your parent died after a long life and was in good health until the end, you may have anticipated that their death would seem more natural and easier to accept. You may have thought their death would not hit you so hard. Even though you were aware your parent would die one day, you may find yourself feeling shocked and deeply saddened.

Losing someone important to you is hard. Your parent has been in your life for as long as you have lived, and if they are elderly, this is a very long time. Sometimes we can convince ourselves that they will be here forever. 


How others react to your grief

An added complication can be the reactions of other people, whose words are intended to comfort but in fact do the opposite. Roll your mouse over the boxes below to view three examples.

Example #1



“Well, she had a good life.”


Example #2



“I guess it was to be expected, given his age.”


Example #3



“You had her for a long time. You should be grateful.”



What may help

It’s important not to let others hurry you through your grief or deny your feelings. If your parent was older when they died, it doesn’t mean it will be easier to accept their death or that you won’t grieve.

Seek support from those who can understand your grief and empathize with your loss. It can be helpful to speak with others in similar circumstances through either a support group or an online resource, or talk to an experienced grief counsellor.

Helpful resources - Module 4: Moving through grief