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Navigating the Death of an Estranged Parent

Category: 

Grieving Process

Posted On: Feb 28, 2017

Navigating the Death of an Estranged Parent

Following the rituals of death doesn't always have anything to do with grief. There are times when you simply have to go through the motions, perhaps for peace of mind, for closure, or because it's the right thing to do. This applies in particular if you are estranged from either of your parents due to any number of circumstances. It happens. It's unfortunate, but it's more common than you might think—that doesn't make the death or the situation surrounding it any easier, but it does mean that you aren't alone.

Decide if You Need Closure

The reason you're estranged from your parent will come into play as you work through the grieving process and navigate the traditional trappings of death. Do you need closure? Can you receive it by attending your parent's wake, viewing, or funeral? If so, then it behooves you to visit, even if you don't stay for the duration or make arrangements to spend some time alone with your parent's remains.

Bring Along Support

To be honest, you may decide to do all of this alone. It's an intensely personal choice. However, even if you make a solitary journey to the grave site or the funeral home, have some support handy, just in case you need it. Invite a friend, your spouse, or another loved one to accompany you, then simply ask them to remain in the background, back at home, at a hotel, etc. Later on, you'll want someone to talk to, someone to listen to you vent, hold you, and comfort you.

Don't Fight or Force Your Feelings

You might grieve the loss of your estranged parent. You might not feel sad at all. You could experience coldness, sadness, relief, or nothing in particular. Any and all of those emotions are fine. Don't fight your feelings. If you're angry, hurt, or even happy, it's totally okay. Similarly, don't force tears because you don't feel sad over the loss of a person who wasn't in your life. You're not obligated to grieve.

You may decide not to go to your parent's funeral or viewing. That's just fine—again, there's no obligation. Do what's right for you, what's healthy, and what's helpful.