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Coping With The Loss Of A Parent (divorce, death, abandonment)

When kids and parents go through this tumultuous turbulent transformational time in their lives, there is a lot of things happening at once. It is up to the sole custodian parent to be their solid rock and foundation, secure, safe and soft spot to land and fall, rely on when they need it.

For divorced parents redefining the family unit and strengthening those ties is of utmost importance. Take the time to include and encourage all members of the family (old and new – if deemed appropriate).

Being respectful and sensitive to the kids’ needs and not merely dismissing, bad-mouthing or fighting with the non-custodial parent should be sought. Set a good example regarding forgiveness and civility. Transition family management (spending time at the other parents house, supervised or unsupervised visitation, living and visiting between two homes and even taken harsh tones with each other can all make kids uncertain, uneasy and feel displaced). Do everything in your power to mitigate and minimize the impact.

When it comes to the death of a parent, grieving and mourning the loss is important for the healing process. Recognize that only did you lose a life-partner, but your child has lost a loving, caring anchor in his/her life/lives. Remembering and cherishing the good times and memories, celebrating the life passes are all natural and to be advised, approached with sensitivity and done slowly.

In the case of the abandoned parent, it is advisable to first pay close attention as to the financial and physical needs and requirements of the family. Can you sustain and provide for your family? Do you have care, love and support from family, friends and a support network? What is your plan of action for moving forward? Keeping positive and believing in yourself and your own inner strengths, capacity and abilities, will see you through, if you stick to your plan and goals for you and for your family, you are well on your way to regaining and reclaiming, rebuilding and enabling your life.

  • Easing this transition, trying to make it easier all falls on your shoulders. You can enable and empower your family to leave the old situation, context and life behind and embrace the new.
  • Parent and child share a life together no matter what, stress, strengthen and build the bond and connection that you do have.
  • Anger has a place, but in moderation, modeling good positive emotions and behavior is key, not blaming or fighting in front of kids are essential.
  • At no point should children ever be used as weapons, go-betweens, bargaining chips or leverage in disputes between parents.
  • Make every moment that you do have with your child count, matter and make a difference.
  • Do not fret over all the time you do not have to spend with your child.
  • Children are not parents’ emotional supports, you are theirs.
  • Encouragement and acceptance, honesty and trust has to be fostered and allowed to grow over time.
  • Ultimate goal should be to raise, a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted child.

Letting go of bitterness, regret, not being able to forgive and forget, blame and the like (negative energy, emotion and outbursts) is of extreme importance.

Write down your emotions through journaling, seek counseling, a willing ear to vent or soundboard that you trust and get these feelings and emotions out of your system. Make lots of room for love, devotion, laughter, joy and shared moments with your new family, in your new surroundings, circumstance with the future inviting you along for the ride.

Seeking support from other single parents in your area, community and surroundings will help you cope and realize that you are not the only one (although it feels like that sometimes) and that others can understand, encourage, support because they KNOW what you are facing, going through and what lies ahead. These support networks can be invaluable.  Childcare, baby-sitting and play-dates can be arranged this way too.

Experts advise parents in any of these situations to focus on THREE key areas:


Health, balance, emotional stability, strength are all required. Join a support group and tap into the social networks, circle of friends and family that you have to help you out. Pursue your career/work, retrain or educate yourself in order to provide better for you family.

Make connections, talk and exchange often. Make every moment you have as a family count. Mealtimes are great opportunities for these (breakfast, lunch, dinner) some, any or all will do (if you can). Have simple dinner menus (Mac and cheese is fine, with some steamed veggies (fast too!), homework, bath and bedtime.

upportive loving care, kids need to know that they are save and loved at all times.

Here are some more practical advice and handy tips for single parents:

Single parenting is a delicate balancing act. It does call for sensitivity and definite planning, as well as well-executed consistency and strategy. Surviving and thriving are BOTH possible and some days either will do!

Paying close attention to all these added tasks and responsibilities of the sole parent and provider can prove to be really tough. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going! Take a positive, hands-on approach and take control. Claim not being a victim of your circumstance and start by getting up a little earlier every morning, taking some time for yourself.

Remember Keeping up with the details of daily living can be hard to do. Multi-tasking can help, but it can also drive you stir-crazy if it starts to obsessively rule, structure and direct your life.

Single parenting in any situation, regardless of what got you there/here , has no one trusted recipe, ,solution or one-size fits all. Your family and circumstances are unique. NO TWO JOURNEYS ARE THE SAME. However, you can customize solutions that fit, work and are successful for you. Ease up on yourself and your kids. This will take time. Find solace and peace in the fact that this phase too will pass.