Losing both parents

The death of one parent is devastating, but the death of both parents can be even more devastating.

However, I don’t see losing my parents as final. Of course I am saddened not to have them in my life any more, but with such strong beliefs I know they are still around me, just not with me. For those of us who lose both parents and don’t have the same feelings or understandings, it must be enormously difficult.

What does it mean to lose both parents?

When we lose both of our parents we lose the primal ties that keep the family united. We lose a generation, as we become the next generation. Our next of kin changes over to our spouse who becomes our next of kin. The family dynamics change, as does our own mortality, as we come face to face with it for the first time.

We also gain more responsibility through the process. It’s not the same feeling when we lose one parent. Life still goes on to a certain extent, as we continue to live our lives around our last surviving parent and we look to that parent for encouragement and support.

Unfortunately, the death of both parents will shift the dynamics of the family, as the remaining siblings try to adapt to life without them. Some siblings may feel a sense of guilt that perhaps they didn’t manage to say what they wanted to say, or other siblings may feel relieved that finally they are free of their parents’ judgment and criticism.

Other siblings may feel numb, not knowing how to deal with their parents’ passing and feel scared and alone. Of course the experience is different for everyone. We may also feel more vulnerable, as the shield that once protected us from old age and death is no longer in place.

As we become the next in line, that could be seen as negative if we choose to see it that way. I’m choosing only to see the positive of life, rather than see this as a next step.


12 Apr, 2013

8 thoughts on “Losing both parents

  1. Right now I’m feeling okay, but I know I’ll agree totally. I’ve lost one parent and have one left with a terminal illness. I’m okay cause I know I will see my father again. I’m not looking forward to loosing my mom too.

    It’s not the fact that she will be gone because I know I will see her again too just like dad. I have a feeling I’m going to feel lost for a while until I get used to the idea of being the next generation.

    I feel my life has been centered around family and now that they are all leaving us for a while it feels weird actually. I yearn for the family closeness that we used to have, for the old days when things were simpler and family meant something.

    I think the world is getting away from family things and it doesn’t feel right.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Losing two parents does take a little bit of getting used to!! What was the old normal becomes the new normal as our life becomes centred around our own families and not that of our parents.

      I appreciate with your mom being terminally ill now you will have a little bit more uncertainty around you, but I hope your mom will be around for a while yet.

      1. Since this post my mom has passed, Jan 3, 2014. I’m still trying to get used to the new norm and have faced death myself a year ago.

        I didn’t die and return, but I was a breath away from it. Now I’m struggling to accept it. I was just numb, going through the motions daily. Then I perked up a little and am more with it for my families sake. I still feel different and my spiritual faith isn’t as strong as it was, so I’m working on that now.

        Getting back on topic, I know I’ll see both my parents again, but it is a strange feeling being on earth without them and being the next generation.

        1. Thanks Lisa. Yes, when both my parents passed, 5 years apart, I also found it strange that I’d got to that stage with either of them. As a child, I thought they’d be around forever. We can’t imagine our lives without them and when they’re gone, we’re left with no choice.

          I’m pleased you diverted on your response Lisa and think given your circumstances and what you’ve been through yourself with your health, you’re possibly better, more equipped than me to understand how it feels to lose someone, being close to passing yourself.

          It’s a fact that we will lose our parents, as our children must lose us; but what’s important is making them equipped to cope, when the inevitable comes. It’s a part of the cycle of life. Perhaps being so close to death brought about a different thinking for you.

          Perhaps part of you still being here is the reason why you’re finding it difficult to accept that you are. When we’re so close to death, we’re normally happy to go. I believe that when we’re that close to death, so close that we can touch it, it will always be difficult for us to come back into our life and just accept that we have.

          But now that you’re here and you have a second chance at life, it’s important to embrace the new challenge of re-adapting. I believe you will see your parents again, but they also knew it wasn’t quite your time.

          A sobering thought. Perhaps it’s your family who weren’t quite prepared to let go and which is why you’re still here. You’re clearly an integral and important part of their lives.

  2. Ilana, my surviving parent is my elderly mother. I spoke with her yesterday about this very topic.

    We both talked about missing my father and laughed about memories of the past. My mother said she would rather die first before any of her four children. I remember my father saying the same thing to me. I understand the natural sequence of life.

    It’s a funny thing; I am a 52 year old man and she still thinks of me as her child. I cherish every moment of life with my mother, because that sequence of life is the inevitable.

    Thank you all for sharing your intimate memories on this blog for all to live and learn.

    1. I think it’s very special when a mother and son has this kind of conversation and I love that it happened for you. I did manage to talk to my father about things that mattered to both of us before he passed. I too am glad I was able to do that.

      To cherish is to value. From what you say it’s lovely that you both value what you have together. That is something very special.

  3. I remember when my Grandmother died and my mother lost her last parent. She said we are next in line.

    Little did we know at the time it would be her to go next.

    1. Your mother was of course right, but we have no idea how life works out. I don’t think for a minute her words had anything to do with her going next.

      I think when our time up our time is up. We have no guarantees on when, we just know we will.

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