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Here’s How The Loss Of A Parent Can Affect You Psychologically And Physically


The loss of a parent is one of the most painful, traumatic and universal human experiences. Regardless of how close your relationship with your mother or father was, whether or not the death was anticipated, and how old you were when you lost them, the loss of a parent hurts a lot and it can change you biologically and psychologically.

Even science backs up this. Studies have shown that the loss of a parent can adversely affect you on all levels, i.e. emotionally, mentally, and physically.

While we all cope with parental loss differently, the fact remains that shock, sorrow, denial, despair, anger, and even depression, are the feelings most of us experience after losing a parent.

To investigate the effects of childhood bereavement on adult life, research analyses which were based on longitudinal data provided by 11, 000 adults born in 1970 were carried out. Three different groups were used in the analyses: orphans, children from unstable or divorced families, and children that lived with healthy parents.

To present just a part of the findings, it was found that by the age of 30, the orphans had higher unemployment rates than the other two groups. They also had a high number of symptoms related to depression.

Then another study that was carried out to examine the long-term effect of early parental death on adult life showed that in cases where the child had no appropriate social support and lacked open communication while he/she was mourning,  there was a negative effect in adulthood in regard to relationships, self-esteem, trust, feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as the ability to communicate feelings.

And that’s not all. A study which investigated the impact of parental loss on psychological and physical health in adulthood provided valuable information which shows that gender may also play a role in the way someone experiences loss.

Analyses of longitudinal information from 8,865 adults in the National Survey of Families and Households 1987–1993 indicate that the loss of a father leads to more negative outcomes for sons than daughters and the loss of a mother leads to more negative outcomes for daughters than sons.

How Parental Loss Affects Our Brain

In a study which was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2003, researchers found a connection between unresolved grief and both psychological and physical health issues, such as hypertension, immune disorders, cardiac events, and cancer.

How You Can Heal From Grief

Undoubtedly, experiencing shock, sadness, despair, anger, and denial when losing a parent is unavoidable.  So, if you’ve lost a parent, remember to take all the time you need to grieve. But, also remember to treat yourself with compassion and patience. And whatever your way of mourning is, never bottle up your feelings. Instead, let them run through you freely and acknowledge them the way they are.

Here are 5 approaches that may help speed up your healing:

1. Your relatives and friends are the people you can always rely on for help and support. But, if they can’t provide you with the emotional support you need, don’t hesitate to talk to a professional therapist.

2. Look for a support group which involves people who have similar concerns and pains to yours. Group therapy is a great way to express your feelings, share your experiences, and create meaningful relationships.

3. If you suffer from both grief and clinical depression, know that taking certain antidepressants can speed up your healing, of course, if they’re prescribed by a professional.

4. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle as much as you can. Have a good 8-hour sleep every night, consume healthy food and drinks, do physical exercises, and meditate. This will prevent you from developing unhealthy, self-destructive behaviors, such as substance addiction or overeating.

5. Last but not least, if you’re a religious person, turn to your faith. Your faith and religious traditions can be quite comforting and soothing in a time of pain.

Here’s How The Loss Of A Parent Can Affect You Psychologically And Physically