MartyT Posted August 31, 2005 Report Share Posted August 31, 2005 Why does the loss of one or both our parents hit us so hard?In their wonderful new book, On Grief and Grieving, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler have this to say about the power of grief:The time after a significant loss is full of feelings that we usually have spent a lifetime trying not to feel. Sadness, anger, and emotional pain sit on our doorstep with a deeper range than we have ever felt. Their intensity is beyond our normal range of human emotions. Our defenses are no match for the power of the loss. We stand alone with no precedent or emotional repertoire for this kind of loss. We have never lost a mother, father, spouse, or child before. To know these feelings and to meet them for the first time brings up responses from draining to terrifying and everything in between. And in this insightful article, noted grief expert Kenneth J. Doka explains some of the reactions we may have:When A Parent Dies “Everyone says it is a blessing. She was old and ill for so long. I am 62 years old myself, but she was still my mother.”If Mona were 12 years old, no one would believe it odd that she would grieve the loss of her mom. Why do we assume it is easier 50 years later? Those 50 additional years carry even more shared memories.When I started counseling, I held those sentiments. I expected to see spouses grieving the loss of their mates or parents mourning the death of a child. I was surprised to see so many adult children grieving the loss of their older parent.They taught me that I should not be so surprised. There are many reasons why the loss of a parent is difficult, even for an adult. For many of us, the loss of a parent is our first major loss. We are unprepared. We may be astounded by the intensity of our reactions, the times when we feel the absence of our parents’ presence, and the moments we seek their advice only to realize we can no longer receive their counsel.The death of a parent may bring other losses in its wake. We may have to sell the family home. Holidays once spent there are now redistributed or shared by other family members. Perhaps without the centering presence of a parent, other family traditions seem less significant. Families may no longer seem as close or come together as often. This heightens the experience of loss. In some cases the stress of care giving or conflicts over the estate can create tensions between siblings. This can cause an additional sense of loss even as it further diminishes support. In other cases, we may take comfort in a renewed closeness with brothers and sisters or a new appreciation of family.We may experience a “developmental push.” Now, without a parent we may have to carry on tasks without the assistance of someone we have long counted upon to help. The death of a parent brings not only grief but also profound personal, social, familial, and even financial changes. Acknowledging grief and change is critical. This deep sense of loss is a natural response to the death of parents, whatever their age or however old we are. Our grief is a manifestation of our attachment and our love.We may want to join support groups or seek counseling. Since this may be our first major loss, we should consider whether we need additional support.When the time comes, we may need to find appropriate ways to honor their memories. Each of us has our own traditions and rituals. We may want to put together a collage of photographs or to light a candle on occasions. We may even want to create a new tradition.My mother, for example, was very concerned that the family would drift apart once she died. Now, on the Saturday closest to her birthday, all surviving generations reunite in her honor.-- by Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, MDiv, HopeLine Newsletter, September 2005, HOPE for Bereaved, Inc., NY, email@example.com Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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