Friday, February 12, 2010

When a parent dies

The little child inside each one of us is the person to feel the jolts of pain, confusion, and sadness when a parent dies. Whatever experiences we have had previously with people dying do not compare to the experience of losing a parent. Losing grandparents comes very close to it and might be as much or more dramatic depending on the nature of the relationship. When a parent dies, a part of one’s self also dies because they were a thread providing our connection to the rest of humanity. This phenomenon happens at birth. Even if we did not share happy times with our parents while growing up or spend time together as adults, our DNA provides us with an intimate connection and we are affected on many levels by their passing away.

My dad was almost 81 years old when he died this past December and he had experienced many episodes of injuries and illnesses over his lifetime. On a conscious level, I was half-expecting a phone call at any time these past few years to inform me that he was gone. But when the time came to sit with him in the hospital after surgery and then follow that with a week-long vigil at the hospice center, it was like having a bad dream instead of experiencing something I had prepared myself for well in advance.

The little child inside each one of is the person is the one who has to recover, reorient, and instruct the adult we have become on how to go on living without our parent. As adults we can consciously consider ourselves independent entities, but on a much deeper emotional level, we all depend on our mother or father for validation of our existence. When a parent dies, the adult that we are can carry on and make decisions, take action, move forward with the activities of life. It is the little child inside who must inform us on how to really “live it” to the fullest.

There are many helpful articles, books, websites and checklists to guide us in task management and the grieving processes. A good place to start is Hospice Foundation of America. While these kind of tools can be very useful, most often the best resource for healing is your own circle of family and friends. Also check with your local hospice association for a bereavement support group as a good supplement to your social network.

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Tamara Wolske, MS
Academic Program Director

3 Comments:

Ron said...

To find Hospice care facilities in your area, visit: www.GeriCareFinder.com

CaptNeumo said...

Thank you Tamara. My father died about a year after yours - on February 18, 2012. He was a chem prof and lifelong learner who brought great joy, wisdom, insight and to his family, friends and students around him (always with a twinkle in his eye and a quick witted dash of humor).

Your post has helped me understand what's going on at that "inside kid" level: "As adults we can consciously consider ourselves independent entities, but on a much deeper emotional level, we all depend on our mother or father for validation of our existence."

Thank you for the post, your wisdom and the resources offered.

-Cathie

CaptNeumo said...

Thank you Tamara. My father died about a year after yours - on February 18, 2012. He was an organic chem prof and lifelong learner who brought great joy, wisdom, insight and to his family, friends and students around him (always with a twinkle in his eye and a quick witted dash of humor).

Your post has helped me understand what's going on at that "inside kid" level: "As adults we can consciously consider ourselves independent entities, but on a much deeper emotional level, we all depend on our mother or father for validation of our existence."

Thank you for the post, your wisdom and the resources offered.

-Cathie