As part of The Grief Toolbox, Glen Lord spoke with Dr. Gloria Horsley at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about the death of a parent as an adult. “Death of a parent” searches make up about half of Open to Hope’s searches. He says the death of a parent when the child is an adult is often minimized, especially if the death is expected. Lord’s mother was suffering from kidney failure and liver failure. Since she was living a low quality life, Lord feels many people thought it was “better she died,” which makes grieving a very difficult process for adult children.
Even though Lord lives in the grief world, professionally, understanding the mechanics of grief doesn’t make it any easier. He agrees that death may be better for the person dying in some instances, but it’s not “better” for those in grief. He notes that it’s really easy to get caught up in what looks like grieving, such as dealing with taxes and paperwork, but those are really just logistics.
Never an Easy Route
After someone has died, it’s often a go-to method to forgive and forget, no matter how big or small the issues between two people may be—which can make grieving even more difficult. “You get the urge to talk to them, and they’re not there,” he says. In some instances, you can forget the person is no longer there, even years later, which can make grieving easily last a lifetime.
For Lord, the biggest help has been learning to acknowledge that the person is gone and that can take a long time. Seeing the person in a different light can be critical. It’s often only after death that adult children can see the positive intentions behind what their parents did.