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How should I be feeling when I’ve lost my mum or dad or someone else I love?

How should I be feeling when I’ve lost my Mum or Dad or someone else I love?


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen quite a few of the google searches that led people to my blog being about how people feel after they’ve lost someone they love and how they think they are supposed to feel….and the great difference between the two.  So I decided to write about this topic.

What are you supposed to feel?


There are very clear expectations on you when you are grieving about what you will be feeling.  Everybody has a fair idea about what emotions you expect someone who has lost a parent or someone close to them to go through, right?  Like sadness, numbness, emptiness, anger.  You’ll miss them.  You might be incredibly distraught.  But one thing is for sure – it’s all negative, painful stuff and you’ll definitely go through it.

Isn’t that true?


One of the biggest problems around grief and one of the biggest reasons people can get stuck there is, very simply, that they aren’t able to be honest about their emotions.   There are a lot of feelings they can’t admit to themselves, let alone to others.

Most professionals in this area will talk about the pain, the overwhelming sadness, etc.  They’ll talk about the inevitable stages that you’ll go through when grieving.  I have to point out now that I don’t prescribe to the (regularly debunked) 5-stage model of grieving. (If you want to know why you can find out here).  I’ve been through enough of it and worked with enough grieving people to have seen that sure, if you don’t admit how you are truly feeling, don’t resolves some of the emotions, and leave all of those deep questions unanswered then yeah, you will be stuck in a long process that may see you through some of those stages eventually finding yourself in something called acceptance, because you really can’t find any other place to go.

But a HUGE part of what goes on for people when they are grieving is that they are feeling all sorts of emotions that they don’t believe they are supposed to be feeling and they push them down and get stuck where they are.

What are you really feeling?


If there is one thing, just one thing, that you take away from this blog today and into your own experience it is this – honesty.  Don’t lie to yourself about how you are feeling.  You will be feeling all sorts of different emotions and denying some of those can cause you a lot more pain.

So I am going to make an honest list of some of the things you might be feeling:

  • Sadness
  • Relief
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Happiness
  • Overwhelm
  • Numb
  • Surprise
  • Anticipation
  • Sorrow
  • Shame
  • Amusement
  • Closeness
  • Disconnection
  • Fear
  • Hope
  • And many, many more…….

You may feel an emotional wreck.  Or you may feel ok.  You may be thinking about them a lot.  Or you may not.  Or you might flick from one to the other.  These emotions listed above are not stages that you will go through.  Don’t assume that the negative ones are the ones you go through first and the positive ones are the ones you end up at.  Some of the list above might look shocking to you but these are all very valid and very natural emotional responses that go on when you’ve lost someone.  You can be feeling a bunch or all of these at once about different aspects of the death.

The negative ones are the ones you are expected to feel and that you might feel bad about if you aren’t feeling them or feeling enough of them.  The positive ones are the ones that will cause you the most turmoil because nobody tells you that you might feel these, and they certainly don’t tell you it is ok to.  And the guilt that comes from feeling emotions you think you aren’t supposed to is immense.  And this guilt can eat you up, all the while passing itself off as part of your grief.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel


Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling and know it is absolutely ok whatever way you are feeling/responding to the loss of your parent.  If you feel ok, or you feel devastated, or you feel a bit of relief, then admit that to yourself.  There are very good reasons why you will feel each of these things.  And I’ll let you in on a secret – you aren’t the only one feeling this over a loss.  You just might be one of the few that own up to it.

The simple act of truly acknowledging what is going on for you and knowing it is ok can make a profound difference to your experience after losing a parent or someone else you love.

As with many of my blogs there is so very much more I could write on this topic and at some stage I will do a series of blogs covering each of the big emotions separately, particularly the more challenging ones.

If you are struggling with some of the emotions you are feeling about your mum or dad that you’ve lost, or making sense of the way you are feeling, feel free to get in touch with me.



P.S. If you are struggling, and need a little bit of help and support right now…then I have designed this gentle little course  just for you.


Celia April 1, 2011 at 7:06 am

Thanks so much for this post Kristie. One of the aspects I’ve been struggling with is acknowledging that I’m feeling better now, and allowing myself to feel ok about being ok. I sometimes catch myself questioning whether this is normal, or whether this makes me a bad daughter. Your post made me feel much better!

Kristie West April 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

Hi Celia,

One of the reasons people will hang on to grief is that they believe that it’s the right thing to do when someone they love has died, and that to not grief or to be ok would be to dishonour them or to show you didn’t love them…..which is total hogswash. 😉
A couple of really good questions to ask yourself are:
1) what would your dad want to see you doing/feeling? and…
2) what would be a better way to honour him and show you love him, than to be in pain?

I think the best way we can honour our parents is to find meaning in what has happened, to remember and love them without it being a painful experience, to go on and make the most of the life they have given us, and continue to do the things that we are here to do and be the person they loved us for. After all, we are their legacy.
Thanks for sharing here. 🙂


Courtney April 3, 2012 at 4:07 am

Its been almost 2 years since I lost my mum and I still can’t eT over it I’m always sad angry and so much more I’m so lost everyone else has accepted it. And now because I can’t it’s ruining my home life my relationship and my
Work life aswell as my social life. What do I do

Kristie West April 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Hi Courtney,

I’m sorry to hear how things are for you and how your grief is affecting your life. Grief can touch every single aspect of our lives and, if left as it is, will continue to do so and it can be very destructive…as you are seeing.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
The first step I would suggest is to sign up for my free booklet (if you haven’t already). Within a week or so you’ll also receive a second one that might be quite useful to you too.
Let me know what you how you find the info I send you and I can recommend what would be best to do next.
You can have your life back. And I’m sure your mum would never have wanted to be responsible for this amount of pain and suffering in your life.


tbcylh July 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

I lost mine 4 months ago. From being a social wreck to what I am now, I’ve definitely improved in terms of communicating with people. But the pain of remembering the last few moments before she left me, the pain of remembering how she had to suffer, the pain of being unable to talk to her cuz she lost her voice, the extreme pain of missing her, wanting so much to pick my handphone up and dialled her number; all these pain overwhelms me daily at sudden moments. I can’t even work now as I can’t, or rather don’t wish to handle any more stress in life.

I know everyone says time will heal. I know it’s probably true. But it still doesn’t make the present any easier cuz it hurts every single day. I’m mid 20s, although I know there are people who lost their parents at even younger ages, it doesn’t make things any better.

Kristie West July 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Firstly thank you so much for sharing here.
There’s lots of advice I could offer but with the death being quite recent and having the day to day effect it is having on you the most important thing right now is that you physically and emotionally support yourself. This is about coming back to basics of eating well, drinking enough water, minding the alcohol intake, journalling, allowing yourself space, being very honest about your feelings (all of them). I have a free booklet with 5 tips for dealing with the initial pain that you are in now. If you’re on my mailing list you’ll have received this or will soon. If you’re not just email me direct on and I’ll send you one straight away.

The reality is that time doesn’t heal loss and pain though people will say that to you as they don’t know what else can. When you’re ready for something different I can help you….but for now the most important thing is to support yourself really well at the basic levels. Your body and mind will need all the help they can get from you and this can make a huge difference.
Sending you lots of love,

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