Preparing Yourself for the Death of a Parent
By: Beth McHugh 2009
Many people fear the death of a much-loved parent and wonder how they will cope when the event arrives. After all, losing a mother or a father is a once in a lifetime occurrence since we are only given one parent. That parent may be a birth parent or a much loved step-parent who took over when our biological parent was unavailable for a variety of reasons. Whatever, the case, it is a difficult milestone in our lives to lose a parent.
Everyone copes with this event in different ways – not all of them healthy. But to help minimize the pain of losing a parent there are several steps you can take while they are still alive. The main form of defense against the inevitable pain is to tell your parent you love them. Sit down with them and take the time to have a meaningful talk to them about how much you love them and why. Perhaps you can actually make some form of written tribute to them and give it to them as a gift on their birthday or on Mother’s or Father’s Day.
It is best to do this when they are well and healthy. But like most people, we often wait until an illness has developed until we finally become aware that these people who have been around all our lives might very soon not be here anymore. Even then, there is still time to act. Again, take the time to tell them you love them and how much they mean to you. Do not expect anything in return, some people are unable to articulate their love back to you but they will hear your message nevertheless and, most importantly, you will get your message across. Doing the latter exercise well before the death of a loved parent takes away the guilt and remorse at never having told them you cared. Do it today!
Another point to remember is that, although you feel distraught at the thought of losing your loved one, they have gone through the process before you, and their parents before them. In fact, there isn’t a person either alive or throughout history who has not taken the landmark step of losing a loved parent through some means. If your parent can do it, so can you. If others have done it through time, so can you.
Passing trough this milestone is a rite of passage and it is a tribute
to our parents if, over time, we come not only to accept their passing
but to pass the baton onto future generations and bearers of their own
genetic characteristics. Surviving and thriving in due course after
the death of a loved parent is a tribute to their value as our parents.