My parents died a number of years ago. My dad died first then a few years later mom died. Her death made me an adult orphan. You may have heard of the term “adult orphan.” I belong to this group. I’m an adult orphan. What does this term mean to you? The fact our parents eventually die may not be an experience people want to confront. Not confronting this fact of life doesn’t change anything. If you have had a longstanding estrangement from your parents it makes reconciliation more challenging.
I realize not all my readers may resonate with this post. It may stir up memories you wish you could forget. Perhaps you didn’t have a close relationship with your parents. Perhaps you were estranged from them. It may be you look at the death of your parents as a rite of passage anddon’t think twice about consequences of this loss
The grief one experiences after the death of parents may be of a profound nature. It may also be a complicated form of grief due to the ongoing disagreement you had with your parents. Not all adult orphans look back on their relationship with their parents with fondness.
Those adult orphans who didn’t resolve disagreements with their parents may have blown it. This may not go down well with you but at least give it thought. At a point in your relationship you had an opportunity to resolve things and you didn’t take advantage of it. The opportunity passed you by. Now with the death of your parents it’s too late.
Even when it is too late to make amends with your parents you can make peace with yourself. You can own up to your part in the distance you and your parent(s) caused between each other. Most times it is something either of you could have remedied but you just didn’t. You let things go on because of pride or stubbornness or lack of true love. No one made thefirst move toward reconciliation. So sad. Time continued on and your parents passed from the scene.
Reflecting on your dysfunctional relationship with the people who brought you into this world may be a teaching moment for you. You may learn something about yourself. The energy you used in keeping a distance between your parents may now be used to look at yourself. Who do you see? By chance do you see a reflection of your parents as you look at yourself?
Who or what do you see as you reflect on yourself? A few thoughts may be going through your head as you gaze at yourself. “I see a stubborn person.” “I feel a deep sense of loneliness now my parents are gone.”“I recognize times in life where I wanted to make amends but didn’t.” “I’m happy I reconciled with my parents before it was too late. I just wish I had done this sooner. I miss them.”
Dear reader, if your parents are still alive how is your relationship with them going? If time is a healer as some say, have you taken time to resolve disagreements? The clock is ticking. Time waits for no one. Now is the time. Don’t worry about being right, reconcile, as much as you can with your parents. Things may not be perfect but at least be civil and honouring to them.
A famous actor and his son had a falling out that lasted for years. After the father’s death the son was asked if the slate was wiped clean before his father’s death. The son replied, “What slate?” Enough said.
Coming soon: When Parents Die: Part Two—An expression of love and grief.