That special grief

A dear friend is mourning the death of her father today. She received the phone call yesterday morning from family members at their home — her home — thousands of miles away. She said to me, “I traveled there last year in the spring, and the year before, to say goodbye to him. We expected it. But lately, he was getting better.”

My friend is 47. Her dad was 71, a veteran of the Vietnam war.

Even when it is expected, the passing of a parent brings on a specific kind of grief, regardless of the age of the surviving child. It’s the cutting loose of one’s moorings, one’s link to one’s highly personal life experiences, one’s early childhood, the many life lessons from the loving voice, and acts of parenting, learned and experienced over all these years.

We grieve when a friend dies, a neighbor, a member of our faith community. We think about how we will miss them. We reach out to their family members. We hug, we weep. But our grief is different when our own mother or father dies. Specific. Personal. The sense of loss slices deep inside, and it never really goes away. Not really. Passage of time helps to heal, but we never stop missing our mom and dad.

At our age, my dear bride Betsy and I occasionally speculate on the effects of our dying on our children, now adults and parents of their own. We wish we could spare them the pain of loss. We can’t. But we can squeeze every drop out of all of our remaining days. And we know that they will love one another through their grief when it comes.

Cherish every day, every moment, and express your love now, while you can.


One thought on “That special grief

  1. this is so so true…I am now more than a decade older than my own
    mother was when she passed away. I’ve missed having her with me every day, and am so sad she didn’t see me have an exciting career, a beautiful wedding and so much more. I would have appreciated her advice and wisdom on growing older too. I am so lucky to still have my father and I am grateful beyond measure for these years with him I’ve had. Thank you for this lovely post.


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