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How to deal with the death of a father?

Written By

Karen Mehringer

Author, Speaker, Life Coach at Creative Transformations

Briefly Speaking

The death of a father can leave you emotionally bruised and feeling lost in the world. Find out how to deal with the death of your father.
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The death of a father at any age can be devastating, but the younger we are, the more difficult it is as our sense of identity is not firmly established. We don’t know who we are so we rely on our fathers to give us direction and provide us with a sense of security and stability. Without that direction, we are like rudderless boats, lost at sea, feeling empty, alone and insecure. It can be scary navigating life without them.

The first step to how to deal with the death of a father is to find ways to grieve your loss. As you grieve your loss, your sadness will be diminished and you will be able to find meaning and joy in life once again. Here are some suggestions for healing your grief:

  1. Write a letter to your father telling him what he meant to you and how his death has affected you. Now write a letter back from him, imagining what he would want to say to you.
     
  2. Journal to express your feelings. Write for ten minutes straight without stopping. Start with the prompt – “What I really lost is… “
     
  3. Create an art project representing your grief. Draw, color, paint or sculpt your feelings. Create a collage of pictures and other memorabilia representing memories of your father and special interests he had. Check out, www.BereavementArtists.com for ideas.
     
  4. Engage in a ritual such as planting a tree or scattering his ashes in a place he loved to visit. Meet once a year with family members to share your feelings of loss and where you are with the grieving process.
     
  5. Don’t isolate yourself and reach out for support. Join a bereavement group through your local hospice or meet with a counselor or therapist specializing in grief and loss, like myself. There are also on-line communities you can join so you don’t feel so alone. Check out, www.griefnet.org.

Grieving is a process that takes time and depends on many factors such as the circumstances of your father’s death and how close your relationship was. It can take years to feel right in the world again after this type of loss. So, it is important that, as you try to find how to deal with the death of a father, to not feel pressured to just “get over it.” Repressing our grief only causes more challenges such as anxiety, depression, addiction, illness and feeling dissatisfied with life. Expressing it, on the other hand, can help us to grow and develop more wisdom, love, and compassion.

Further, many who have experienced the loss of a father have used their anger and sadness as motivators to do great things with great purpose. For example, George Washington became fatherless at the age of eleven. Thomas Jefferson was fourteen when his father died. Franklin D. Roosevelt lost his father at nineteen. These presidents all left their mark in the world. Many famous musicians, artists and writers who have lost a father have found healing and great meaning through sharing their creative expression.

By focusing on what is possible after your father dies instead focusing on what you lost and feeling sorry for yourself, you will be empowered to create a rich, meaningful life. 

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