When my father died about 8 years ago I realised I was an orphan as my mother had died 6 years earlier. I know most people think of an orphan as a young child like Oliver Twist, who has no parents and lives a wretched life.
We are all our parents' children no matter how old we are.
I was grieving so much but people just said my parents, especially my dad had a good innings, (I can't recall the number of times people said that to me,) I was adult and I should really be over the grieving by now.
People would say you look well and I would smile and say yes but I was not ok and I felt life would never be the same. I felt alone, rudderless and looking for direction. I felt no-one understood me.
My brothers said they were coping so I felt there was something wrong with me, until I found an interesting article about adult orphans.
The article acknowldeges that the adult orphans are the forgotten grievers and are supposed to grieve a little then get back to their lives as they are adults and their parents lived a long life.
I found myself nodding with every word.
The death of your parents is one of adult life's most significant rites of passage. Our community acknowldeges the loss and grief that young children experience when their parents die, however adults are expected to be very different, coping with the grief of the death of the people that raised them from birth and whom they have known for many decades.
No matter what our age humans have a need for unconditional love to be guided, and a soft place to land, that parents offer.
Once I felt my grief had been acknowledged, it didn't take my feeling of loss away, but I felt I could understand my feelings and stop feeling I had to apologise.
I realised that because my parents had been in my life for nearly 50 years, it would take me more than a few weeks to work out how to live with out them and plan a new way of defining myself. I was no longer some one's daughter. In my family I was now the older generation and was reminded of my mortality when my son, a few months, after his grandfather's funeral, wanted to know about my own funeral plans!
Some days I felt I was warpped tightly in a sadness shawl and at my daughter's suggestion, I started writing to my dad on the computer. In the first few months was writing every few days, sometimes daily.
This helped me because I was thinking about him all the time it helped me to express my thoughts.
If you know someone whose elderly parents have died, try to acknowledge the grief he/she is feeling, offer understanding and be willing to listen.
If you are an adult orphan be kind to yourself, allow yourself time to grieve, tell people you trust how you feel and start to navigate your way in a different world.
A Moodscope member.
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