Parent Loss with Barbara Scharf

At the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling Conference, Dr. Gloria Horsley interviewed Dr. Barbara Scharf about losing a parent as an adult, which is often a minimized loss—and a very difficult one. Your parents are your parents, no matter what your age. Unfortunately, those around you (including those you thought would be part of your support network) might not respond with the empathy, listening skills and compassion you need when you lose a parent later in life. Today, Dr. Scharf’s mother is almost 90 years old and credited with teaching her children to always be optimistic and see the cup as halfway full.

“People think that when you lose a parent as an adult, it’s not a big deal. But it is!” says Dr. Horsley. It’s been 18 years since Dr. Scharf lost her father, but says her mother has played a huge role in helping everyone in the family move forward. Dr. Scharf says her mother has overcome a stroke, always has a smile on her face and is always looking forward.

Building Your Network

From her mother, who was of course grieving the loss of a husband, Dr. Scharf and her sister learned that there’s always sadness in life, but always happiness, too. It’s important to find the best support network for you during a loss, and it may not be who you expect. Losing a parent means many in the family are undergoing a loss, and they may react in a myriad of ways. Dr. Scharf considers herself lucky to have such a strong mother as a role model, but other people may need to look farther for inspiration.

She encourages everyone to work diligently to find support. You may need to ask, which can be difficult in the grieving process. However, it’s paramount for healing.


Gloria Horsley

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Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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