Burying Your Parents? Kiss Normalcy Goodbye

It’s six am in Denver Colorado. I haven’t had a drop of coffee, nor have I begun to get ready for the morning sessions at the International Society for Technology in Education Conference (ISTE 2016).

This morning, my heart is heavy (not really, but I am really thinking here). I am quite saddened for several people whom I care about. Folks I have known since we were kids, and even new acquaintances who are dealing with some kind of loss. The death of a loved one, a breakup and/or divorce, and the loss of a job are among the top causes of grief among adults.

We are getting older now, and my friends have begun to bury their parents. Without making the grave mistake of telling them “I know how you feel,” I try to offer support in every way I can. There’s very little I can do really, and I know it. No magic words or no gift of any sort can even begin to scratch the surface.  It’s like I’m the woman in the long black trench coat standing in the far corner of the graveyard during a burial, looking on as the survivors slowly crossover into “my world”.

This is what happens next:

  • You question your own audacity to exist.
  • It makes you wonder if you can make sound decisions without having their guidance.
  • You wonder if you left everything on the table: No hard feelings, unresolved conflict, etc. If not, there’s another influx of emotions and guilt to sift through.

I grew up feeling that for everyone else’s convenience, my mother’s death and my father’s apparent decision to not give a damn were things that I had better just get over. I felt ridiculed or deemed mentally unstable because I was still grieving Mom twenty years after she passed. I still grieve. Today I want to scream to everyone who inevitably experiences this nearly catastrophe, but may not have quite understood me before, “SEE! I TOLD YOU IT’S THE WORST PAIN YOU CAN EVER FEEL!”

It is. You never get over it. You just learn how to go on living and coping without them, and you pray that they are in a better place. I can say this: Losing mom at such a young age poised me to handle losing a job, and divorce in much healthier ways than I might have had I never gone through much. I’ve learned to use adversity for gain. I hope you can too.

For more depth on grief and loss read Life after Loss Understanding the Grieving Process and On Life After Losing Mom: 8 Things I’d Like Her to Know.

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