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Moving Back Home after the Loss of a Parent


Grieving Process

Posted On: Mar 08, 2017

Moving Back Home after the Loss of a Parent

Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a child can go through, no matter how old they are. There's a mistaken belief that it's easier to handle this tragedy if you're an adult, but losing a parent is discombobulating and devastating whether you're 13 or 30. After such a loss, you may need to move in with your remaining parent, especially if s/he is older, in shock, or simply can't cope with the loss of her or his spouse. It won't be easy for either of you, but it is necessary—for both of you. You will probably go into this situation thinking that you're doing something for your parent, but the odds are good that you need the comfort and support just as much.

Respect the Parent/Child Dynamic

You might move back home to take care of your surviving parent, but your mother or father probably doesn't see it that way. No parent wants to ask her or his child for help. No parent wants to be taken care of by her or his child, either. If you find yourself in this position, even if you are technically the person in charge now, try to remember the parent/child dynamic and respect it as much as you can. This is your parent, the person who took care of you when you were little. Don't baby your parent. Don't try to take over everything. That will just lead to resentment.

Let Your Parent Grieve Naturally

We've established that you should not charge back into your childhood home trying to control everything. You may be helping your parent, but you are not in control of her or him. Perhaps you're eager to sort through your deceased parent's belongings. Maybe you want to purge closets, drawers, and cabinets. Don't force this issue. Your remaining parent needs time and space to grieve. Don't try to force the process. Don't control it. Wait until your parent is ready to start moving on, then approach the subject of going through the departed's belongings.

Set Boundaries with Each Other

Boundaries will help to save your relationship. Talk to each other about the purpose of this arrangement. Is it going to last forever or just a specific amount of time? Does your parent expect you to follow any rules while you're back home? Discuss these topics beforehand, and you'll save each other from feeling frustrated on top of your grief and sadness.

Above all else, be there for each other. Love each other. Cry together. Share your memories. You lost a parent. Your parent lost a partner. You're both floating in the sadness of the absence. Hold hands and tether each other.