Dr. Gilda on Grieving
So You Lost Your Mom or Dad? Let's Talk . . .
Dr. Gilda Carle


Just when you think your life is going okay, and that you can depend on your parents or your friends or your neighbors to act as they usually do, something happens to shake up your world and spoil everything. Right?

Adults know that the only thing they can count on in life is that people and circumstances will never stay the same. It's a real bummer, and nobody likes it. But we are all together in this feeling.

Let's face it, we all know what we have, and change means having to start again with new people, new relationships, and new circumstances. What a drag!

One way some adults get to feel better about change is by telling each other this joke: "Do you want to hear God laugh? Tell him your future plans." The joke's punch line reminds us that things NEVER stay the same. Life's changes often make us feel awful because they shake up the routines we're used to, and make us feel insecure about what is going to happen to us next. Sometimes we become very angry that this has all happened to us, and we never had a say in any of it.

Yet, believe it or not, without change, we would not grow. And frankly, do you want to stay 7 or 10 or 15 years old forever?? That would mean that you would never graduate, or drive a car, or get a good job, or be able to buy things for yourself you really, really want. Now THAT would really be a bummer!

So what do you do when you've lost your mom or dad? How do you handle those deep feelings of sadness and sorrow? First, give yourself permission to feel bad. Allow yourself to cry and talk to friends and other family members again and again and again if you need to.

Find someone special at school or at home to confide in.

It could be a favorite teacher, a loving aunt or uncle, an understanding grandparent, a caring neighbor.

Whoever it is, make sure it's someone you can trust and be honest with.


This is a difficult time for you, and it's okay to have real feelings--and express them. People who love you realize this, and they will be happy to hear your thoughts. To be healthy, you must release your feelings so that they don't stay stuck inside you to muck up the rest of your life.

One way to release your feelings is to write them down on paper. You can write them in a special journal you are keeping, or write a real letter to your mom or dad, put it into an envelope, seal it, and put it away where only you will see it. Whether it's your journal or this letter, years from now, you'll want to re-read what you wrote. Be sure to put a date on it, and write your age. It's a beautiful gift you can give yourself--and something your parent would be proud you did.

If you're especially creative, write some poems about your experience. If you would like, ask a teacher to print it in your school newspaper. If you want to be more private, write a note to your parent, go to a river, lake or ocean, and send the note floating into the water. For a lot of people, water offers a feeling of peace. If you're one of those people, go for it.

You might also feel good drawing or painting some pictures of your best memories with your parent. If pictures make you feel better, create a scrapbook of your favorite photos. Be sure to put dates on them. This way, your parent may be gone in body, but your private memories will keep him or her alive in your heart. And reviewing your drawings, paintings, or photos when you especially miss your mom or dad will allow you to "see" and "be with" her or him any time you want.

Be sure to also get into the exercise and sports programs you enjoy. Working out your body's kinks gives your emotions more strength. If you're a more social kid, grab your friends and hang out and have fun. If you're more private, write, draw, paint, dance, sing, or do anything that will make you happy.

Your parents loved you. No matter where they are now, they brought you into the world to become the best person you can be. You may be more on your own without them, but you're not alone. Your beautiful memories will remain with you forever--and you are growing stronger and wiser than you ever were.

For additional information, contact Dr. Gilda
For information on books by
Dr. Gilda Carle: www.drgilda.com


   © 2001-03 James Ronald Whitney
See the Web sites for the director's other films: Just, Melvin, TheWorkingGirl.com and Games People Play
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