Grieving Sucks At Any Age
Grieving the loss of a loved one, especially a parent, doesn’t get easier as you get older. Especially if you’re over fifty years old when your parent dies.
Chances are if you were over fifty years of age in the early 1900’s your parents weren’t alive.Today, it’s not uncommon to have one or both of parents attending your 50th or 60th birthday bash. And by sixty years old, you know what it is like to grieve the loss of a loved one. So, sad as it may be, the death of your mother or father won’t have a great impact on your adult life.
Before your parents die, you, are, at least in part, connected to the rest of the world through them. After their death, that connection is broken. And as the surviving adult child you are alone in a way you never experienced, and a new part of life begins.
Grieving -The Orphaned Adult
Friends, relatives and co-workers with living parents tend to minimize the loss.
“She was 93; oh she lived a full life. Be grateful you had her for so long.”
The expectation is you’re fine and that returning to work and other regular activities won’t be a problem. After a week or two people stop asking how you’re doing. As an orphaned adult you learn to keep your feelings to yourself. But the truth is that even as adults we are strongly affected by the loss of a parent, and our life is changed.
- Everything starts looking and feeling different.
- You feel distant from the people around you, even people you know well.
- It is effort to reach out and contact friends.
- You feel a sense of isolation.
- You feel like a stranger as if you are not connected to the world.
After parents die, you are no longer someone’s child. It is a life changing event that prompts a shift in your identity. And as a result, you feel off course, out of joint and confused. After all, who are you now that you are nobody’s child?
Grieving – Life Changes And So Do You
It’s not as though we don’t all know that one day our parents will die, and we’ll have to live the rest of our lives without them. But the knowing doesn’t prepare us for the impact their death has on our life. Nothing is the same. During holidays, birthdays or anniversaries we expect to feel their absence. However, memories are everywhere, rising up like an unexpected wave in the ocean. They take us back and, for a while, make us remember. And in that moment, we grieve. In the next moment, like a wave receding from the shore, the sadness dissipates. Most of us have had complex relationships with our parents. There may have been harsh exchanges and times when we wished our parents weren’t in our lives. Then one day they are gone forever, and the details of our battles don’t seem to matter.
The Value Of Grief
Grief reminds us that our life isn’t permanent. It alerts us to take the time to live and appreciate those we hold dear. It allows us to reexamine how we’ve been living our lives. Grief hits us hard, and it can drop us to our knees, but it forces us to find the courage to get through. Most importantly, grief teaches us that we have the power not to allow grief itself to consume us. Grief is not something out there that is attacking us. Grief’s power is within us, and that same power is there to help us heal. I am no one’s child anymore. My parents are both gone. My mother passed away in June. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t long to breathe her air one more time. I remember how she always signed her cards to me, ‘my love for you is endless.” I know that is true. And it is also true that my love for her has no end. Her final words, whispered to me, were, ” I’ll see you later.” I pray those words are true as well.