‘Adult Orphans’ Need Not Lose Connection With Parents

By Annette Gonzalez —

I am an adult orphan. I’m not anyone’s child anymore. Both my parents have died. There is no smooth transition from being a child in the family to becoming an orphan. One day you have parents and the next day you don’t. It’s quite a revelation to know that there is no one to approve or disapprove of your actions anymore. You are it!

It is also hard to face that I now represent the older generation. I was the oldest child and the oldest grandchild in my family. I am now the oldest adult. It is my duty to carry on my family’s values, traditions and cultural roots. It is an awesome responsibility to make certain that the inter-generational links, from my great-grandparents to my children and their children, are not severed.

For those of you whose parents are older or in ill health, here are some suggestions from an adult orphan:

* Treasure your parents. Make the time to spend it with them. Listen to their concerns. Value what they have to tell you.

* Provide them with special things that they need: books, phone calls, visits.?Have no regrets.

* Encourage an inter-generational link. Ensure that your children and grandchildren have opportunities to spend time with your parents. After your parents have died, tell younger generations stories about your parents and grandparents. Prepare food that the older generations ate.

* Record an oral history of your family members and provide it to your children and grandchildren.

* Every day, take time to think about a wise saying or direction your parents once gave you that made a difference in your life.

* Carry a memento of your parent(s) to keep them close to your heart.

It is important for us to do the best we can while our parents are still alive and to honor them after their passing. I may feel like an orphan now, but no one can take my memories away. I choose to write about my memories in order to help others through the pain of losing their parents and as a result, it will ease my pain.

Reach Annette Gonzalez at [email protected].

Annette Gonzalez

More Articles Written by Annette

Annette Gonzalez is a lifelong Floridian and was raised in West Tampa, a Latin neighborhood Tampa. As a child, she was nurtured in this cultural environment and it influenced her desire to be a writer, speaker and storyteller. She graduated from the University of South Florida in 1970 with a B.A. degree in sociology. She married Terry DeLisle and they have two sons, Jared and Jacques. In February 2006, when Annette struggled with coping with the loss of her mother, she began documenting her feelings. Five months later, her father passed away. This is when she began to write and speak publicly about her parents’ deaths. Annette believes that we need to treasure our parents while they are alive and honor them when they have passed. Reach Annette at [email protected]


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  • J says:


    I lost my father on the fateful day of Nov 5th 2008, that was the day when he slipped into coma and never woke. He left us on dec 14th and since he has left me, I have felt so numb, and just dont seem to have any feelings in me anymore.
    Life to me is a burden now, I got married 2 years back and I am 30 and loosing both parents at such a young age feels so lonely….
    I lost my mother when I was just 17years old , since then i shared a special bond with my father, i loved him the most and wanted him to live with me and cook for him…but this little wish of mine was never fulfilled…….God had plans and plans to devastate our family and he succeded and I couldnt save my father….

  • Joseph Bigras says:

    Do you know how its like to be a orphan ? I do I was in a orphanage all my childhood life then they close the orphanage I been in Childrens aid in 31 different homes then i went to a reform school because they couldnt find a suitable home for me at 8 years old i was sexually assaulted then at the age of 14 i met my real father he simply said hey I never loved you why do you think we got rid of you he is now deceased now im 53 without nothing I struggle everyday im living in a town nobody gives a damn im a outsider to them
    because i came from Ontario if you are not from Newbrunswick you are not welcome in their community simple as that i struggle alot now im on a disability pension i have bad knees and a learning disability I struggle every month
    to make ends meet yea I know what a orphan is thanks for listening
    take care Joseph Bigras

    P.S Im using my landlords computer I have no luxuries it all belongs to my landlord im renting a room

    • Gavin says:

      Dear Joseph

      My own loss, compared to yours when viewed against that terrible background, was quite different. My dad (died 1987) was always my best friend, as well as my dad. My mother (died 2003) was a very different person to him, and I realize now that there was a kind of ongoing competition between them as to which of the two I, as an only child, would love the most. Now, at age 60, I have no relatives and no partner (divorced 2003, and nobody since then), no job, health issues, very little money (I’m an editor and journalist, and only have the little I manage to pick up on the freelance market). My son (now 20), whom I always hoped I’d have the same kind of relationship with as I did with my own dad, wants nothing to do with me, as he is caught up in a world of materialism. In neither case was there time to say goodbye, and there was a lot of unfinished business on either side that still causes me a lot of heart-searching and concern. I mention these things only to suggest that, while you had a pretty dreadful childhood, even the most privileged of people suffer the same tortures when they lose a parent/s. You need to learn to feel good about yourself; to understand that all those in your town who seem not to care about you only seem that way because they don’t know you as an individual. I wish you strength and courage in the time that lies ahead, and may God turn your life and your fortunes around so that the sun shines for you again.
      Gavin – Cape Town, South Africa

  • Joseph Bigras says:

    I thank you Sir
    Yea its not easy you know I dont even know what a hug feels like
    anymore sometimes I wonder why was I ever born I was a mistake
    nothing else but I cant help to feel sorry for the man call my father but hes gone nothing can change that The orphanage that took care of me loved me very much I was the nuns favorite kid
    what really hurt me though is on sundays it would be visiting day
    the nuns would take my hand and we would go play on the playground
    until the visiting hours was done because nobody ever visited me
    you know im 53 im still holding a grudge against the world
    im always bitter I never smile its like im all alone in this world
    its like a friend or a love one is mad at you and they wont speak
    to you for a month or so I feel like i was punished I still do anyways Gavin I thank you very much for taking time to talk to me I appreciate that you take care of yourself be happy be safe
    Sincerely Joseph Bigras

    write me sometimes just to say hi whatever if not no worries i will understand take care
    My e-mail [email protected]