I don’t think there is anything that can prepare you for the death of a parent. It is a larger blow in adulthood, I believe, because you are at the point where you are actually friends with your mother or father. Their wisdom has finally sunk in and you know that all of the shit you rolled your eyes at as a teenager really was done out of love and probably saved your life a time or two.
I lost both of mine two years apart; my mother much unexpected and my father rather quickly after a cancer diagnosis. My mom was the one person who could see into my soul and could call me out in the most effective way. She taught me what humanity, empathy and generosity means. My father was the sarcastic realist in the house and one of the most forgiving people I have ever met. If you wanted it straight, with zero bullshit; just go ask my dad.
Grief runs its course and it comes in stages, but I was not prepared for it to never fully go away when I experienced the death of a parent.
1.) My phone is never more than one foot away from me at bedtime, because the last time I did that I missed the call that my mother died.
2.) The very thought of my mother’s death, at times, made me physically ill for about six months after she died. I literally vomited.
3.) Their deaths have at times ripped the remainder of our family apart. I did my best to honor their wishes and sometimes that made me the bad guy. The burden of that was immense, but I understood why I was chosen. It made me stronger as a person, so for that I am grateful.
4.) I’m pissed that my son didn’t get to experience them as grandparents. I watched it five times before his birth and I feel robbed. He would have adored them and they him.
5.) I would not trade my time with them for anything, but sometimes I think it would have been easier had they died when I was very young. The memories would be less.
6.) Don’t bitch about your parents in front of me. You will get an earful about gratitude and appreciation. As a “Dead Parents Club” member, I would take your place in a heartbeat, so shut your mouth. Get some perspective on how truly fleeting life is especially if you’ve never experienced the death of a parent.
7.) It’s like being a widow—a “club” you never wanted to join. Where do I return this unwanted membership, please?
8.) Other club members are really the only people who can truly understand what it does to a person. They just get it. There is no other way to explain it.
9.) Life does go on, but there will be times, even years later, you will still break down like it happened yesterday.
10.) When you see your friends or even strangers with their mom or dad, you will sometimes be jealous. Envious of the lunch date they have. Downright pissed that your mom can’t plan your baby shower. Big life events are never ever the same again.
Here I sit eight and 10 years later after the death of a parent and there are still times that I reach for the phone when something exciting happens. Then it hits me; shit, I can’t call them.
Their deaths have forever changed me and how I look at the world. In an odd way, it has made me a better parent. I am always acutely aware of what memories can mean to my son and how I will impact his life while I am on this earth. He deserves to know how much he is loved, and when I am gone, what I teach and instill in him now will be my legacy.
About the Author: Lisa Schmidt is a Dating and Relationship coach in Detroit and the author of her own blog. She streams regularly on Periscope and is a contributor for several online publications. See more from Lisa at http://www.thelisaschmidt.com.