Grief On Parents Death

Mother Holding Child's Hand

Becoming an Adult Orphan

Grief on a Parents death is always hard but losing the last parent seems to be a slightly different event to the first.  Obviously if you lose both parents as a child you are classed as an “orphan” and treated as such. Everyone can instantly sympathise or realise that this is a traumatic event.  However, when you are older and your parents die, it sounds ridiculous to say “I am an orphan”.  Whilst one parent remains alive you are still a child to someone no matter how old you are and whether or not you have become the carer for that parent.  Also you may find that you finally grieve the loss of your first parent, which may not have seemed possible or just may not have happened whilst the other parent was alive.  This is sometimes caused by throwing yourself into taking care or being concerned about how the other parent is coping rather than experiencing your own sense of loss.

Becoming an adult orphan

Once all parents are gone then you are technically an orphan, your position or role has changed. There is a sense of missed opportunities to spend more time together, have that talk, ask those questions.  There is also inevitably a feeling of future loss – Mum not seeing your children grow up or even seeing them at all, Dad not seeing you succeed in your field of work or get the award.

Guilt

Amongst other feelings and emotions guilt is another one that can be very damaging to your overall health and happiness.  No matter what the circumstances most people feel guilty when someone dies.  It may be that you feel you did not do enough, did not see them as often as you might, left things unsaid or unresolved.   This whole mix can be made very complex if you did not know your parents, felt very antagonistic towards them, in awe or frightened of them.
Moving forward

One of the wonderful things that can happen

At some point is the realisation that you are free and that a whole new world of opportunities can now open up for you.  No matter how wonderful our parents and our childhood, we are still subject to the real or imagined pressure of living the kind of life our parents think we should.  Many people have taken courses, jobs, partners, or other things because they believe it makes their parents happy, meets with approval and their expectations and is “the right thing to do”.  When both parents die you realise just how much you may have relied, been guided or driven by them in your life even down to everyday decisions.  Once they are gone so is the judgement about what you do and you can finally grow up and take your own decisions based totally on what you want and what you think.

When you reach a point where you feel this freedom, use it to motivate you to do all the things that you have always wanted to but felt would not fit with others expectations of you.  I am not suggesting you drop all responsibilities (especially if you have children or dependants) but choose to really LIVE your life.  Get the most from each day, see the good and the joy in your life in the little and the large things.  Do not focus on what is wrong with your life, focus on the good and allow changes to take place in the other areas.  Relax this is your life.