How To Manage A Death In The Family

Updated April 25, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

The death of a loved one can be one of the most trying things a person can go through. Whether it is the death of a child or the death of a parent, there's no "right answer" on how to deal with a death in the family. Everyone grieves in his or her way, and no one should feel shame for how they grieve.

The Five Stages Of Grief

Are You Having Trouble Managing Grief?

Maybe you’ve heard of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. But did you know there are more stages to the process than that and that not everyone feels every stage?

In addition to the chief five stages of grief, there are also resentment, yearning, and suffering, which typically occur after anger and before sadness. It is possible to feel a combination of these emotions all at once. It's not so clean-cut that you will feel each emotion separately, as the idea of the "stages" might lead you to believe. Every person is an individual, and so everyone's grieving process will likely be different.

One thing to keep in mind is that grief can be very different from depression and that both can be experienced simultaneously. If, in addition to symptoms of grief, you may also feel worthless, helpless, and extreme guilt, you may want to consider speaking with a professional to help manage your grief as it could be developing into a depressive episode.

Grieving Process After The Death Of A Parent

The death of a parent can be a complex and challenging process, regardless of the circumstances. You might find yourself experiencing a range of emotions. For example, you could feel guilt, frustration, sadness, and confusion, and al of those feelings are valid and nothing to be ashamed of.

Remember that there is no time limit on grief and this may be the time to care for yourself, perhaps as your parent once cared for you. Do some things to give yourself a sense of normalcy, like cooking, reading, taking a long bath, or going on a walk. This could also be a good time to depend on your support system, such as your spouse, children, or friends, and ask them to distract you or just listen to your feelings; whatever you think will be most helpful. Be gentle with yourself while you heal. 

Grieving Process After Death Of A Sibling

Losing a sibling can be like losing a family member and a long-term friend all at once. Siblings often grow up together, experiencing every up and down together, so to lose a sibling can feel like losing a part of yourself. It can also feel like losing a role model. A sibling can also serve as a confidant, and you may feel a sense of emptiness now that your sibling has passed.

The emotions involved in losing a sibling may be more complicated for one family than another. Siblings may not be on speaking terms at the time of the sibling's passing, or there may be feelings of resentment that have driven a wedge between the siblings and that the surviving sibling or siblings must now confront in addition to their grief.

The surviving sibling or siblings may also experience a shift in the role(s) they play within the family. For instance, if the eldest sibling passes away, that means the remaining siblings become the new eldest and middle siblings, or maybe even just an only child with no sibling at all. This can present a significant shock to the family order.

Grieving Process After The Death Of A Child

What is true for the loss of anyone may be especially true for the loss of a child. Don't let anyone tell you how to grieve or when your grieving time limit has run out. The same goes for your spouse. Remember to give them space and compassion in their healing process and be available for them as a support system.

Something important to remember is that you may remain numb for the first year after the loss of a child. In the second year, however, the numbness might begin to wear off, and you may experience more powerful grief than ever before. This is normal.

Immediately following the death of a child, you may want to sell your house, file for divorce, change careers or take on some other major life event. It is recommended that you wait at least a year to do so. It may be difficult to see all those daily reminders of a child who is no longer with us, but it is important that you take the time to evaluate every aspect of a major life event before embarking on it.

Some people adopt a "life is short" mentality and feel that their current situations are holding them back, but this may be another aspect of the grieving process, and you don't want to do anything now that you'll regret later on.

Grieving Process After The Death Of A Spouse

You may feel like you can't go on after the death of a spouse. You may find it comforting once the initial stages of grief have passed to do something to keep your spouse's memory alive. For example, you may want to regularly partake in an activity that the two of you used to do together. You can also take flowers to their grave and spend a few moments talking with them. This may feel silly for some people, but it can be rather cathartic.

Above all, remember that you will feel normal again with time. It is important to feel your grief and not rush the grieving process. Don't feel like you have to jump into a new relationship right away. 

Conversely, if you find someone new who you want to spend time with, don't let anyone make you feel guilty that it's "too soon" after the death of your spouse to find love again. Everyone is an individual, and everyone grieves in their way and in their own time.

Inspirational Quotes About The Death Of A Loved One

Sometimes, it can be hard to find words for when someone dies; nevertheless, it can be helpful to read some inspirational quotes after the death of a loved one. 

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." - Norman Cousins

"What is lovely never dies, but passes into other loveliness." - Thomas Bailey Aldrich

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

"Words, however kind, can't mend your heartache, but those who care for you after your loss and wish you comfort and peace of mind." - Unknown

"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us." - Helen Keller

Are You Having Trouble Managing Grief?


Death is a common fate for all people, and almost all families have, at some point, gone through a powerful loss. If you are having difficulty managing your perspective after the death of a family member, it can help to talk to a counselor. The counselors available at ReGain are trained to help you with your specific needs. Through ReGain, you can fill out a brief questionnaire to match you with a counselor trained in helping with grief. Studies show that online counseling can help with symptoms of anxiety and depression, PTSD, and phobias. Other studies have demonstrated that online therapy tends to be more cost-effective than in-person therapy as well.

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