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  • Writer's pictureErika Sardinha

Coping with the Loss of a Parent you Had No Relationship With

When I was a little child, I dreamt of the day my father would show up in my house, and just like Superman would save any innocent person, he would rescue me from the evil people in my life.


I used to fantasize about this day in and day out, imagining our first conversation, how I would hug him, and how he would tell everyone that what they were doing to me was wrong and take me away from this place I did not belong.

For years, I held on to this vision, and honestly, I think this hope helped me endure all the abuse I suffered throughout my childhood.


When I almost gave up hope and accepted my terrible fate, he finally showed up. I could not contain my sixteen-year-old heart's emotions: After nearly a decade, I was meeting my father! I wanted to catch up and make up for the time we lost, but what I found was far from what I'd imagined all those years.

Even though we immediately recognized each other, there were no heartfelt hugs, no deep conversations, and certainly no Superman "I am gonna save my daughter" vibes. It took me a minute to realize that even though we were father and daughter, we were also strangers. So that day, I went home with a new pair of sneakers and a broken heart. Daddy was here, but that didn't change anything for me. Actually, I ended up feeling more alone now that my escape plan was out the window.


Since that encounter, we would talk on the phone from time to time. Sometimes, I would be angry at him and decide I wanted to go 'no contact' because it was too painful, and other times, I would try to get closer. "One day, you will understand." - He would say. And that would drive me nuts! Other times, he would pop out of nowhere and tell me how amazing I was or say I took that amazingness from him in a joking way (but not really joking). Especially the writing part. He also loved writing.

And that's how it was until his last day on earth.

Losing my father made me want to escape my body. The pain was so deep, so piercingly real it scared me. The floor disappeared before my eyes, and there was no gravity. I felt I was floating over this dark hole of emotions. I was shocked, not only by his sudden passing but by the pain I felt. Where did it come from?

For someone who had sometimes forgotten she even had a father that was certainly unexpected. It hurt, and I knew better then, so I turned to therapy to help unpack the inexplicable pain.


After three months of therapy and loads of self-love, healing, and compassion, I slowly

started to come back to life and reassociate with my reality.

I allowed myself to grieve my father's death and heal our relationship, even though he was not here anymore. And today I want to share with you what helped me heal the pain of losing my father, in the hopes it can help you too.

1. Take some time off (to grieve): It does not matter where you are in the journey or if you need a couple of hours or days; Taking a step back and giving yourself the time to grieve is essential. It is the moment to let the tears flow and confront the emotions that have been bottled up for far too long.

It is your opportunity to let the pain be without judgment and begin the process of healing.

2. Feel the pain & do not judge it: Remember, your pain is a part of your story and is perfectly valid. When it arrives, don't run away from it. Instead, embrace it, welcome it as an old friend who has much to tell you. This pain is your compass through the labyrinth of your emotions. Let it wash over you, unburdening your heart and allowing you to truly heal.


3. Make peace with the past: The past is a shadow that lingers, but it doesn't have to throw a perpetual darkness over your life. Making peace with it is an act of profound love and acceptance. It does not mean erasing the memories or forgiving all wrongs. It means accepting what was and letting go of the power it holds over your present. That's self-liberation right here!


4. Tons of Self-care and Self-compassion: Self-care and self-compassion are your lifelines during this challenging journey. This is where you treat yourself with kindness, as you would a dear friend. It is a practice of nurturing your spirit and body, indulging in the things that bring you joy, and maintaining your mental and physical well-being. It's a reminder that you are deserving of love and care, especially during your moments of vulnerability.


5. Say goodbye: If you have not done this yet or feel you need to do it again, I advise you to do it now. Saying goodbye, even if it's to the wind, is a profound action of closure. It's a conversation with your lost parent, a chance to express what you wished you could have said. It's a major step toward letting go and releasing the tangled web of emotions that need to be set free. This, too, is deeply personal and can be a moment of profound healing. It definitely was for me.

Extra tip: Be prepared for the pain to come back sometimes (as this is normal, and okay): Grief isn't a straight path; it's more like a meandering river with its ebbs and flows. You will probably have moments when the pain resurfaces, especially around significant dates. These are opportunities for reflection and remembrance and if it's in your heart to do it, honor your parent.


I hope these tips help you grieve the loss of a parent you had no relationship with and show you that you are not alone in this process.


If you need support on your healing journey, know you can always book a call with me here.


Love and light,

Erika

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