Over the past few months, it seems every personal email, text, or phone call I've gotten from close and even casual friends has been about the death of a parent. While I read the text or listen to the voice on the other end of the phone, I can feel the strength, but I can also sense the sadness as they share the news with me. Of course, this makes me think about when my parents passed, and as I offer my heartfelt condolences, I share the only piece of worthwhile advice I feel I can offer, "don't forget to grieve".
You have to deal with the numbness of knowing the finality of death and that you will never see your parents again as they will only live through your memories. It's too easy to get so wrapped up in making arrangements (made only more complicated during the age of Covid), notifying family and friends, or generally being so busy being busy that you can forget to truly take the time to properly grieve the loss of a parent. I think finding a quiet place to let all the emotions flow helps; have that good sad cry, vent that frustration over something that was said or left unsaid, or take a moment and just be in the moment, but you need to get it all out; in short, grieve!
In the case of both of my parents, my family knew it was coming, but even knowing the inevitability of death did not prepare me for the reality of it happening. But I had to accept and deal with the loss, and I used good memories to help me through my grief. I miss my parents, especially my Mother who I fondly called Sweetie, and I have so many great memories of her. One of the few benefits of my hour-long commute home from work in NYC, was that I got to call her almost every day. We would generally talk about the same things i.e., the Atlanta Braves (her favorite baseball team), the happenings at her church (shout out to Ward Chapel AME Church in Columbus, Ga) and my five siblings (who contend I was her favorite, but I think she made all of us feel that way) --usually in that order. I cherish the memory of those phone calls, even when she pretended to be mad and made me feel like we hadn't talked in months when I had only missed a day or two. This memory and many like it sustained me and I used them to help me properly grieve losing her.
While knowing and understanding that losing a parent completes the circle of life, it does not make their passing any easier to bear! The loss of a parent is a traumatic event and while the range of emotions vary from person to person, the one common denominator is grief. The sense of loss can be overwhelming and everyone must deal with it in their own way, but it does have to be accepted in order to move on. For anyone, especially my friends,who are struggling through the loss of a parent, don't forget to make and take the time to properly grieve.