Our society has a tendency to view the death of a parent as a “natural event,” something that is simply following the “expected order of things.” The effect of losing your parent will obviously be determined by the nature of your relationship. Those who did not have a close parental relationship may grieve the relationship that “could have been.”
If your relationship to your parent was such that they were the person providing wisdom and guidance, their loss may even further complicate your grief. Ultimately, while it may be part of a normal order of life events for a parent to die before you, it does not make this loss any less important or impactful.
Grief author and educator Dr. John Canine reminds us that “although most adult children are afforded the opportunity to become successful people directing their own lives prior to a parent’s death, there remains the knowledge that the independent adult is still a ‘child’ of the parent. When a parent dies, the adult child experiences a loss of nurturing, guidance, and protection. There may also be the feeling that no one stands between older children and their own death. They have suddenly, perhaps, become the ‘older’ generation.”
You may not realize it, but at any given time, five percent of the U.S. population experiences the loss of a parent. Chances are there is someone within your close circle of acquaintances at work, church, civic organization or other place, who has also experienced the loss of a parent. Having the support of a person who has experienced a similar loss is invaluable. There is so much you can learn from their experiences along their own personal grief journey.
Remember, grieving is a process. Be sure to read the information on “What helps the grieving process” by Victor Parachin, an NFDA grief educator and minister and the grief tips from Dr. Canine located in the Understanding Grief section of this website.
To learn more about Dr. Canine’s work, go to: www.maximumlivingconsult.com
Always remember, you are not alone. There are others who understand and are ready to help. The grief resources available to you will vary by community. Your NFDA funeral director is a great place to start to learn about support available in your area.