Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship.
My father died in 1994. My mother died in 2006. I grieved my father's death, but it was easier because I still had
Mom to comfort me. Her death leaves me with the deepest heartache I have ever known.
There is no right and wrong
way to grieve because the journey is personal. We each must find our own way through the darkness. Poetry and prose console
me. May the words below help you, too.
Whether positive, negative, or a combination of light and dark, the emotions
that bind us to our parents are strong. When our parents die, our complex emotions live on. Some of us mourn the loss of enduring
love. Some of us grieve for lost potential: what could have been, and never will be.
I once read that we do not
fully grow up until both our parents die. By this definition, I have officially reached adulthood and I don't like it. A friend
sent me a beautiful poem of change when Dad died, and the death of a parent changes us in unexpected ways. I share it here:
My Father's Death
By May Sarton
After the laboring birth, the clean stripped hull
Glides down the ways and is gently set free,
launched; the cramped made bountiful--
Oh, grave, great moment when ships take the sea!
Alone now in my life, no
This hour and its flood of mystery,
Where death and love are wholly reconciled,
ship of all my history.
Accomplished now is the last struggling birth,
I have slipped out from the embracing shore
Nor look for comfort to maternal earth.
I shall not be a daughter any more,
But through this final parting, all
Launched on the tide of love, go out full grown.
Grief holds the promise of healing through
the darkness, but sometimes, the pain of loss is so intense, it is hard to see the light. The passage below is from the book
How to Survive the Loss of a Parent by Lois F. Akner, CSW, with Catherine Whitney. (William Morrow and Company, NY,
1993, p. 193)
Death takes away. That's all there is to it. But grief gives back. By experiencing it, we are
not simply eroded by pain. Rather, we become...more compassionate, more aware, more able to help others, more able to help
Click The Trap of Comparisons or Good Intentions/Unhelpful Remarks for more thoughts on adult grief.
For a different
perspective on grief, read The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss by Ruth Davis Konigsberg. She writes on page 16, "Our grief culture
maintains that grief is unique, then offers a uniform set of instructions [on how to grieve]." From the back cover: "With
this book, I hope to offer you a means of escape from our habitual ways of thinking about grief."
Konigsberg's work is thought provoking and well researched. Click A Change of Heart for my review of the book.
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