The death or loss of a parent should not be underestimated, even if they are in old age and the child is an adult. The loss of a source of loving support, even if expected, can be devastating. Alternately, if a parent is suffering, death may be a source of relief. If the parent is estranged, their death may be met with little or no feeling at all—and that can in turn inspire guilt or confusion. A young child experiencing the death or loss of a parent may go through profound emotional turmoil, with bouts of feeling overwhelmed, sad, depressed, pressured to take on new responsibilities, isolated, and angry, while someone experiencing the loss of a parent while a young adult may feel adrift or isolated from their peers. At any age, there may be legal, financial, or practical impacts that add stress and complicate the grieving process. Self-compassion and professional support can be two key features of working through this difficult time.
In the midst of the busiest years of our lives and careers, just as many of us are beginning to confront our own aging, we are likely to lose a parent--and as commonplace, even expected, as any such event may be, the repercussions can be dramatic.
When Dr. Maya Angelo was told her mother, Vivian Baxter, had three weeks to live, she invited her to spend her final days with her in North Carolina. Vivian was suffering from terminal lung cancer, but she lived on for another year and a half-far beyond what the doctors had expected.
You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through.