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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Last November, I came home from school one weekend to visit my dad—he had been having some health troubles and was admitted into intensive care. I thought nothing of it. He had been in the hospital before and had never overstayed his welcome. So, I never expected having to come back the following weekend to say a final goodbye. 

The first anniversary of my father’s death is coming up this week, and I can’t begin to comprehend how quickly the time has flown by. Granted, the past year has been one filled with many radical twists and turns that kept my mind busy. The intense pain I felt when he first passed away last year has subsided, although it occasionally creeps back into my heart and toys with my emotions. 

I speak from experience when I say just how debilitating grief can be. In my opinion, the pain of losing one’s parent at a young age is distinctly different from other forms of mourning. As someone who has learned how to handle the emotional complications of loss, I want to help anyone else who may be in my position. Here’s some advice for anyone dealing with the death of a parent.

Allow yourself to feel the full extent of your emotions

Inevitably, you’re going to feel dark emotions that could range anywhere from guilt, to deep sadness, or to anger. As unpleasant as these all may be, these feelings shouldn’t be ignored—they’re unfortunately part of the process. I still feel this way from time-to-time, but the only remedy is to let it out. If this means crying, then cry as hard as you need to. Express yourself in a way that helps you. 

Your mental health will take a beating if you try to hold everything inside. While you may think it’s better to remain stoic, a real emotional release will help you to deal with what’s going on. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about it either.

Don’t be afraid to stroll down memory lane

When my dad died, my mom and I looked through tons of old scrapbooks to find photos of him. We even pulled out an old VHS player so we could watch our home movies, waiting with bated breath for him to come on the screen every time. Once our search was over, I edited together a slideshow filled with these memories, using his favorite songs as a soundtrack. We played it on loop at his wake, which helped everyone in attendance to focus on the life he lived rather than just his death. 

Unearthing these old relics of the past can help you to look back on happier times and temporarily relieve sadness and stress. It’s comforting to see your loved one as you remember them, untainted by death or disease. If you don’t have access to these kinds of mementos, start journaling some of your favorite memories from your childhood and beyond. This way, you’ll have a written record that you can look back on in the future.

Lean on your friends and family for support

I was incredibly lucky to have an outpouring of support from the people around me. Friends from elementary, middle, high school and college reached out to me—some even attended the wake and funeral. I was also able to talk to and get advice from peers that had experienced the same thing. Death is an awful thing, but it definitely brings people together. Since everyone experiences the effects of loss at one time or another, even strangers will be sympathetic. 

It’s nice to know that you aren’t alone. If someone offers a kind word or invites you to hang out to take your mind off of things, take them up on it. Even if it means grabbing coffee for an hour, it will help you escape the harshness of reality at least temporarily. Don’t refuse support because you’re afraid you’ll be a burden or you’re nervous you won’t be able to keep your composure—people want to help you, but you have to let them.

Take your time readjusting to normal life

Your teachers will understand if you need an extension or have to suddenly miss a class—I promise. No one expects you to be completely fine within days, weeks, months, and even years after such an impactful loss. Don’t rush back towards normalcy until you are certain you feel prepared. Know that life won’t be 100% normal even once your grief has subsided. All we can do is learn how to adjust and go from there. Eventually, though, you will be okay.

The past year has been hard for me and my family, but I hope my experience can help someone else going through the same thing. You are never alone in loss.

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Courtney is a junior at Boston University majoring in Film and Television with minors in Theatre and Arts Leadership. She loves spending time performing, crafting, and playing with her dogs Romeo and Jasper.