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When Our Parents Pass

Updated on July 29, 2012
'Loss of a friend' by Carol Jean Source:
'Loss of a friend' by Carol Jean Source:

When Our Parents Pass

By Tony DeLorger © 2011

When my mother passed it shook me to the bone. I knew she was dying, her prognosis was put forward months before and having liver cancer there was no chance of reprieve. She never verbally acknowledged it, choosing to sidestep the issue whenever it would inevitably come up in conversation. In retrospect, I think she was trying to protect me from the emotion of it rather than herself.

Although she was a sensitive and emotional person, she rarely discussed her worries or fears and remained a stoic figure. She no doubt got that from her mum, who had lived through the depression and the war. They had it hard and learned to take it as it came. Knowing my mum, she would have preferred not to burden me with her problems, rather than get the emotional support she needed. She was a complex woman.

The exception was when she finally admitted she had breast cancer. I visited her one weekend and she, in tears, showed me her left breast. It had a large black blemish with root like radiations just under the skin’s surface. She had felt the lump nearly twelve months earlier, and because she worked for a doctor was too embarrassed to have it looked at. I was flabbergasted. When she endued a radical mastectomy the tumour itself weighed 2.5 kilograms. A secondary tumour in her liver turned up twelve months later.

I was an only child, surviving the loss of three previous siblings: one stillborn and two miscarriages. I was the last chance for a child and luckily for me I survived. My mother dotted on me from birth, understandably, from having had her dreams crushed repeatedly. She was devoted to me and I experienced a fulfilling childhood, apart from the problems with my parent’s marriage. But for all the problems they had it was mostly hidden from me until I was about eighteen.

As sons often do, I had a close relationship with my mother and when she passed it affected me much more than I expected. You think in your ignorance that knowing something is going to happen will prepare you for it. Sadly that’s not the case. It was as if my connection to the world had somehow diminished, making me feel not only disconnected, but withdrawn. With my own marriage problems and unresolved issues I struggled for many years. But it wasn’t until my father died, also from cancer, that I felt alone.

Of course I had my own children, my own family; but losing both parents changes your perspective and indeed makes you think about your place on earth. The realisation of being alone, took me on a path of learning and understanding that changed my life. Our connection with parents is our first and most potent connection. Whether you think your relationship good or not so good, the complexity of our relationships with our parents cannot be underestimated. The turbulence and intricacy of my relationship with my mother was a major part of therapy taken because of depression years later.

Dealing with the relationships with parents and adapting to their loss is a major landmark in our lives and should be addressed earlier than later. Freud of course based much of his work on theses relationships, and for good reason. The exploration and revelations from this inquiry can reveal much about whom we are, and about what holds us back in life.

After this experience our focus as parents turns to how our kids perceive us. Understanding the impact on our relationships it becomes clear that our attention is paramount. As the saying goes....It is the circle of life .


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    • Tony DeLorger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony DeLorger 

      7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks for reading Suejanet. They never truly leave us.

    • suejanet profile image


      7 years ago

      My mom has been gone for 10 years and I still want to talk to her.

    • Tony DeLorger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony DeLorger 

      7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks too to you Faithdream for reading and sharing.

    • Tony DeLorger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony DeLorger 

      7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks Happyboomernurse for your insiteful comment. Thanks for reading.

    • FaithDream profile image


      7 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      My heart goes out to you for your grief. Both of my parents have passed. My dad's passing was sudden, heart attack. I was not prepared. My mom's passing was after years of being ill. Her health declined over time and I was always trying to prepare myself. I didnt want to be caught off guard like I did with my dad's death.

      When my mom died, it didn't matter how much I tried to prepare for it. The pain of her loss is still deep.

      I don't know if that grief will ever disappear as so much of who I am was wrapped up with taking care of her.

      So I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this with your readers. For when your parent dies, a part of you dies along with them.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Sorry about the loss of your parents. I think few, if any, of us are fully prepared for the death of a parent, and yet almost all of us have to come to terms with the relationship we had with our parents at some point in our lives. That can be especially hard when the parent is already gone. We may think it doesn't matter anymore, when in fact it matters even more, for ghosts of things left unsaid and undone can haunt us if we don't find the courage to face our regrets and make peace with them.

      But as you've gently pointed out in this hub, seeking emotional support and counseling can resolve any issues that may still need healing, and then we can move forward and be fully present for our own children in a whole new way.


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