The Loss of Your Parents
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Kevin Ryan MBACP (Accredited)
24th September, 20120 Comments
The world today is a different place from what it once was. How you see yourself, your values, your hopes, your relationships and your future has now profoundly changed. Your priorities have shifted and you are not sure how or why.
This is a common feeling amongst people who have lost their parents. The death of one parent is painful; when your remaining parent dies there is tremendous grief, but there is also an element of that grief that feels separate, a sense of being lost in the world. It might not even be recognised as part of grieving as it involves feelings around your own relationship to life, not your relationship with the deseased.
This feeling of being lost can appear at any time in the grief cycle or even after the grieving has seemingly finished. It might not even be recognised as part of the grief. It is a distinct feeling of unease, a questioning of values and assumptions; it can even cast doubts over the very purpose of your life.
Imagine being in a deep underground tube station on a long, slow escalator, moving forever upwards. Further ahead of you are the past generations, your grandparents and their parents. Behind you are your children and the generations to come. Directly in front of you, a few steps above, are your parents. They have always been there, blocking the view in front. You are aware that as the escalator reaches the top, people are getting off, first your great grandparents, followed by your grandparents.
Eventually it comes to the turn of your parents. They step off the escalator, unblocking your view. It is the only time in the whole of your existence that they have truly not been there. Now you see the top of the escalator for the first time. You are inexorably moving forward at a steady pace, until you reach the top and it is now your turn to step off. There is nothing you can do as you await the end of your own journey.
Your parents have always been there, but their deaths allow you a glimpse of your own mortality. This brings the realisation that you are the next generation to face death. In the past, the thought of your own death might have been a remote awareness, but now it is a cold, hard, cruel reality.
This new awareness, conscious or not, will affect how you perceive the world from now on. This sense of limited time left to you can lead to you asking yourself profound questions about the meaning of your life and internally debating what is important or not. There can be a feeling of being adrift in the world as old values are reconsidered or put aside and new ones are not yet formulated. It is an existential crisis, a period of extreme unease and disquiet, but potentially a turning point towards a new you, more aware and better prepared for the rest of your journey.
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