Dad died suddenly in my early fifties. At the funeral, I will never forget the feeling of being 6 years old in a 50-something-year-old body. Mom died just a few short years later; I was strong until the end with her as she battled breast cancer. My years in hospice made me acutely aware of how quickly she would be leaving us. At her funeral the same feeling took over; as the pall bearers walked past me with my mother, I became a child inside. A lady once said to me many, many years ago, I don’t care how long you do hospice nothing will prepare you to lose your parents. She was right.
The question I think many of us face with the death of our parents is, who am I now without them? Daily phone calls with mom were always there, and if I didn’t call her she would call me and say I haven’t heard from you. She could always tell by the tone of my voice if I was happy or troubled. What now? How are those kinds of experiences just gone? It has been the strangest feeling for me to be on this earth without parents physically in my life. Especially when I see other women lunching, walking, laughing, talking with their moms and dads still. It used be painful for me to witness. I would want to say do you know how lucky you are? He or she will die someday and you will be alone like me!
Time calmed all that down, now I can view those people with love and think back to a time in my life when I had close relationships with my parents. Aging is about reminiscing, recalling moments in time with people we loved. I thought my mom and dad would live forever. Part of grieving our parents is to try not to hold on to the way it was, by that I mean getting to the point of acceptance. Moving forward in our life without our parents is about opening up to the loving memories; this truly is what keeps us going. Granted it may take time to get there.
Back to my original question… Who am I now without them on this earth? It has been such a journey for me, I still get lost sometimes. Like an orphan that never gives up looking for her mother. I know she is in everything, I believe that. Yet, she is not physically here. During the holiday season feelings really bubble up, she died on December 31st. One never forgets the day their mother died. Her death hit me harder than dads, I am not sure why it just did.
What I have learned through my own grief is that now I am a woman who resembles her mother, I have been told that. Her eyes, her heart, her kindness, I am me but I am also the daughter of a great lady. I can move through life knowing the gifts she imparted on me will continue on forever.
I am a woman living a life, trying to be a good example to my children and soon grandchildren. I am a woman that will leave my mark the way she did on this earth, loved by so many with a generous heart.
My parents love made me who I am; I will forever be a part of them. When you are feeling lost with the loss of your own parents, please remember your childhood, your milestones with them and all the traditions that you celebrated. All of these things make you the beautiful person that you are now even though your parents are no longer here.
Peace to you on your journey.