After the death of a parent

A friend posted on Facebook this morning: What does a person do when their mom dies?

My response was one of condolences and advice to stay busy during the next few days and to not be surprised to feel like she was walking in a fog. Since my mother died on Christmas morning, I was able to spend the remainder of the day un-decorating the house and cleaning up the holiday detritus. I remember we were invited to a New Year’s Eve party and the partygoers couldn’t understand why I had to leave early. None of them had lost parents at that point in their life.  Having lost both of my parents, I understand that life seems a bit off-kilter for awhile. It’s very hard to put on a party face.

My dad died right before my sixteenth birthday, during summer break. By the time I returned to school in September, I was doing okay. No one at school mentioned that my father had died over summer vacation nor did I talk about it. I did my school work and excelled as a student, just as my father would have expected.

I was 48 years old when my mother died. I had a month leading up to her death to prepare as the doctor had told us right after her stroke at Thanksgiving that she would live only five days. She hung on until that Christmas morning. I was again on break from school. By the time Christmas break ended, my mother had been buried and I was ready to get back to work. Again, as with my dad’s passing, I did my school work, this time as the teacher, and excelled, just as my mother would have expected.

So, in addition to my previous advice, I think I will tell my friend to do as her mother would have expected her to do.

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5 responses to “After the death of a parent

  1. Good advice. My father died on the Monday of Spring Break twelve years ago. He had my mother call on Thursday of the week before when he was hospitalized. He thought I was already on Spring Break and wanted me to come. He only asked for me. He wanted me at his side because he knew he was ready to go. I hurried through grading midterms and left the next morning. I think he didn’t want to have me miss time at school. He was nearly 86 and diabetic. He’d been fading for three months. I’ll always believe he held on until Spring Break for me. I returned home at the end of the week and went on with my school teaching work just as he would have wanted me to do.

  2. Good advice, to stay busy, I think.

  3. My Mom died over forty years ago. Dad and I were estranged when he died twenty years ago. Thanks to my stepmother, I was told I was persona non grata. I have no advice for anyone. Too painful a topic even after all these years.

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