adult child grief

The Road Less Traveled

by Peggy Sweeney

In April of 1975, my best friend died. Not only was he my best friend, he was more importantly my dad. He died suddenly; a massive heart attack. The paramedics assured us that he had not suffered. But the pain and suffering our family was to endure over the next several months was monumental.I remember thinking, at that time, how I wished I could ease mom’s hurt just a little. I wanted to give her the ability to forget for a short time her visions of dad’s last moments with her. Seeing him die before her eyes must have been so traumatic. Not being able to save him caused her much guilt. I felt so helpless. There was nothing I or anyone could do or say to fix the problem. He was gone. It was so final. I believe it was at that time in my life that I started on “the road less traveled”. In years to come, I chose the path that led me eventually to funeral service. Continue reading “The Road Less Traveled”

adult child grief, Illness, Parent Loss

Grief Keeps Odd Hours

by Ashley French

French_1The kids slept in a bit today, and so did I. My husband awake, already working, and making breakfast.

“I decided to make blueberry muffins this morning!”

He’s the cook in our home. I like to cook, but it doesn’t seem to come naturally, or even with lots of practice, for me. But we’re lucky because he’s a flawless cook. I used to crave eating out, but his meals are so good, I tend to crave certain dishes he makes as much or more than favorite restaurant meals these days.

When we were cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, he asked, “What did you think of the muffins? I think the recipe from the One Girl cookbook recipe is the best.”

“Me too.” I replied. “Blueberry muffins are my favorite muffins.” Continue reading “Grief Keeps Odd Hours”

adult child grief, as an adult child, Bereaved Parents, Grieving Children

In Search of Lost Loves

by Barbara Donsky

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end of a love or a season?
Robert Frost

Barbara Donsky
Barbara Donsky

Who among us has not known the death of someone near and dear? Death can come in an instant at it did at the hands of terrorists, for those who had gathered for a holiday party in San Bernardino, California. Or it can linger painfully long, as it does for so many fighting the arduous battle against cancer. No matter how it comes, the cultural expectation today is that we grieve for a while and then we move on. But that is not the case. At least, that’s not the way I see it.

There is no love as strong and unconditional as that of a mother for her child. For proof of that, we need look no further than the animal kingdom. At the fastidious care and grooming given young chimpanzees by their mothers. At the extraordinary mourning rituals, the sorrow palpable, upon the death of a young elephant, the mother gently tending the body of her dead baby for three days, the rest of the herd disconsolate nearby. It would seem that instinctively elephants know that mourning requires others, that mourning requires rituals to mark the passing of a loved one. Continue reading “In Search of Lost Loves”

adult child grief

Hope and Emergence

by Kirsten Falsey

In memory of my wonderful, funny, brave, inspirational Mom.

Patricia Rose Forgacs  8/22/1946 - 01/01/2011
Patricia Rose Forgacs 8/22/1946 – 01/01/2011

Grief is a universal emotion. But how each of us navigates the grief process is very personal and private. Some people may grieve for weeks, months, or years. Others may handle it alone, seek out friends, or professional help. No matter how one goes through the process, the most important thing they need is support from non- judgmental friends and family.

Growing up the oldest of two children in Tucson, Arizona I had a very close relationship with my wonderful Mom. We laughed often, took long walks together, and enjoyed frequent shopping trips to the mall. Our happy world was turned upside down when she got diagnosed at the age of 62 with stage 4 cervical cancer. It was a confusing time with too many doctors appointments and chemotherapy treatments to count. I had a career as a registered nurse in California and the flexible schedule allowed me to visit with her often. My husband and I learned we were pregnant with twins, (our first children), about a year into my Mom’s diagnosis. She was so excited about our pregnancy and continued to fight hard. Continue reading “Hope and Emergence”

adult child grief, Parent Loss, The Road Less Traveled

The Living Memories Project: Keeping Memories Alive

by Meryl Ain

Meryl Ain
Meryl Ain

My mother would have turned 93 this year. When she died after a brief illness in November 2006, although I knew she had lived a long life, I was bereft. There is never enough time with a loved one.

My mom was my best friend, a reliable loving, comforting, and wise presence in my life.  I spoke to my mother several times a day. When there was a lull at work, she was the one I called. When something wonderful happened, I called her. When something challenging happened, I called her. When I needed advice, she was the one I trusted. I could always count on her to be a calm and intelligent sounding board.

She looked at least 10 years younger than she was, and even when the freak cancer attacked her, her mind and heart were still intact. Although I was in my 50’s, I was now officially an “orphan,” my father having died after a long illness a year and a half before.

I was in a funk, going through the motions but not really enjoying it.  I was told it would get better after a year and that I needed closure. I began speaking with my friends about how to achieve it and came to the conclusion that there is no closure with those we love deeply. They are in our lives and in our hearts forever, although they are not physically present. Some keep alive their memories through small acts, such as looking at photos and making recipes.  Others do big things to carry on the legacies and values of their loved ones, such as establishing foundations.  Continue reading “The Living Memories Project: Keeping Memories Alive”

adult child grief, The Road Less Traveled

Something From Nothing: A Path Through Grief (bereaved adult child)

by Karen Wyatt, MD

wyattAs I write this, I am preparing for a journey back to the home of my childhood where I will mark the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death. I was with her throughout the week before she passed away and had the privilege of shepherding her through that transition—a moment I had been preparing for since I first became a hospice physician. I knew many years ago that I would be with my Mom on the day she died and that it would be one of the most important days of my life.

Her death itself was actually joyful, though it was a process that took a great deal of inner work on her part, which has also been true for many of my hospice patients. Mom had been ready and waiting to “go home” for the previous 5 years and was relieved that her time had finally come. So as she took her last breaths I had to celebrate on her behalf, that her struggle was coming to an end, even while my heart was breaking as each thread of our physical connection slipped through my hands and I confronted the enormity of that loss. Continue reading “Something From Nothing: A Path Through Grief (bereaved adult child)”

adult child grief, The Road Less Traveled

The Voice on the Answering Machine

by Linda Campanella

“Erasing” is an act that seems especially difficult when one is coming to terms with loss and grief. Dad still has not felt inclined or able to erase the greeting on his answering machine at home; his sweetheart’s voice exists in our memories and, more accessibly, on that tape. I experience a surge and complex mix of emotions every time I call and hear the recorded message rather than my father’s live voice. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about hearing Mom asking me to please leave a message at the beep, and I can only imagine what Dad is feeling and struggling with as he contemplates whether and when to tape over her voice with his own.

Linda CampanellaI wrote that paragraph a few months after my terminally ill mother’s death at age 74 in 2009. At the time, my overflowing grief was finding release through my fingers and taking shape on the pages of what became a memoir, published in 2011, about our joy-filled last year together and my first few months without her.

Sometimes curious readers ask me if the voice on my father’s answering machine today is still my mother Nan’s.

Yes, it is. And no, I’m no longer ambivalent about how I feel when I hear my mother asking me to leave a message. The voice on the answering machine is a cherished reminder of the mother I miss every day. Of course I wish she were really on the other end of my calls, but it’s still nice to hear her speaking to me if Dad isn’t home to answer the phone. I wish I had taped her saying other things, telling stories, laughing. Sadly, I didn’t. Continue reading “The Voice on the Answering Machine”