When Parents Die

There is someone very dear to me who is in the midst of a terrible challenge. Out of respect I won't divulge their name but I'll say that one of their parents is very ill. It is with them in mind that I write this post.

Actually the previous post was sort of inspired by them too. Not sure that inspire is the appropriate word, but it will work for now.

Life and death has been a fairly common theme here. I suppose that part of it has to do with my own experiences. I have been to more funerals than I care to think about. Many of my friends have lost a parent. Some of them were quite young, but most were somewhere between their teenage years and their twenties.

One of these days I want to try and find out if my experience is normal or abnormal because it seems to me that I have been to many more funerals than most people I know. Or maybe it is my own misconception, not like we keep funeral scorecards.

In my effort to support my friend I have been thinking about this a lot. I have wanted to be able to say something that would help ease their pain. Their parent hasn't died, but is terminally ill. No telling exactly how long it will go on.

I feel badly because what can I say. I can listen, but I can't offer any profound insight. Maybe it is arrogant of me to want to be able to fix things. But I do.

Anyway, if you read this please know that I think about this more than you realize. I don't always bring it up because I want you to feel like you have some space from it, but I do think about it.

One more piece of business. Here are some past posts that tie into this topic:

Coping With Sick Parents
Coping With Sick Parents Part II
Death- My Son Asked Me Not to Die
Death Comes For Us All- When Do you Start Saying Goodbye


therapydoc said...

I think all a person can do is be there, and communicate that you're there for your friend whenever, and then you put your money where your mouth is by checking in, dropping a note or two, calling often.

After the shiva most friends drop off and even forget what's going on emotionally with mourners who don't wear signs and usually will do their best to seem just fine in public situations. So you don't do this publicly, you don't want to communicate you care when other people are around, you don't want to bust anyone's good day, by bringing it up. You do it personally, just between the two of you. When a person is alone, that's when the emotions tend to fill the space, not that that's bad, but it's nice to share them. At least that's what I think.

Rhea said...

I've had friends who have actually stated their preference, whether to bring the issue up or not. That helps. You may even want to ask.

Jack Steiner said...

Hi Doc,

I agree. That initial period afterwards usually is filled with a lot of support. It is what comes afterwards that I think about. People get busy and life moves on. Not always easy for the mourners.


With certain friends I have no problem asking what their preference is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I appreciate you.

Jack Steiner said...


We have been down a long road together, now haven't we. Wonder what lies around the bend.

Leora said...

Having lived through 5 years of watching my terminally-ill mother suffer and decline, sometimes the only people who "get" it are those who have experienced something similar. One can't expect too much support from those who have two healthy living parents; it is too scary for them to feel or think about not having a parent be there and strong. One can't fault people for finding these issues scary.

Jack Steiner said...

One can't fault people for finding these issues scary.

Not at all. I didn't really get it until it happened to me. It is a terribly difficult thing.

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