Thought Catalog
June 16, 2017

The Awful Truth Of Our Parents Dying One Day

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God & Man
“We’ve admitted they’re old. We’re OK with it now. And we’re happy – happy for each day they’re here.” – Paul Benedetti

My grandparents adopted me. They raised me since I was a baby. The only drawback to this is that they were already well in their 40’s-50’s when I was born, so I have less time with them compared to what others have with their birth parents.

My father is 72. My mother is 68. Even as a child I was already aware how old my parents were. Since I was so attached to them, I’d often worry about their well-being.

One time, when I was 4 or 5, my mother took me with her during a doctor check-up of some sort. She was groaning in pain as the doctor did the routine. After they were done, I was so angry and scared for my mother that I balled my tiny fists and punched the doctor’s legs. I huffed, “Stop hurting her!” which got a laugh out of them.

20 years later and I can see time marked on my parents’ faces when I skype them. I live in a different country now and while I’m fulfilled, I sometimes find myself being unnerved at the idea of them getting sick or even suddenly passing while I am miles away. I get scared shitless if my father just catches a fever or a cough or a cold.

My worrying strengthened recently when my friend’s father was laid to rest. It got me fretting more than usual –

How do we cope with our parents getting older? How do we prepare ourselves emotionally with the fact one day they will die (and probably soon)? How do we come to terms with the looming possibility of losing them?

“As your parents age you will feel a wide range of emotions. Anticipating these reactions and preparing for them will make life easier. You will then be able to capitalize on the happy times with mom or dad, and feel good about the kind of daughter or son you have been.” – Maud Purcell

I guess there’s no simple way to answer these questions. If we think about it, all of us reach the age 70, 80, 90 or even 100 eventually. Right at this moment, we, too, are aging.

Our parents are growing old and so are we. Death is unavoidable. We can’t really solve something as inevitable as aging. I guess all we can do is live our life as best as we know how and cherish our loved ones while they are still here.

I searched for a solution, specifically a clear-cut method I could follow, yet there was no straightforward answer. It seems bleak, but when that time comes we just have to accept the situation as it is and hopefully remember people are capable of surviving tragedy (even more than we know).

In case you are still struggling, too, take note of the following:

– Spend time with your parents, especially if you’re often busy.

– Open up to them about how you feel.

– Let them know how much you love them, both in actions and words. This can be difficult if you have a strained relationship with your parents or if you/your parents aren’t much for vocal vulnerability, but try so you know you’ve said everything you wanted to say to them.

– Support your parents. Not only when they’re struggling with their health or growing older, but also when they’re celebrating their wins in life, too. You can’t control their aging process, but you can care for them and help make it easier for them.

– Prepare yourselves, literally. What do they want when they’re proper old? Do they want to stay at their house, with you, or at a home for the aged? What are the arrangements when they pass away? When you’ve planned out the trivial matters, then you will have more time to be with them now as well as space to grieve in the future.

– Regard grieving as healing. Yes, it is difficult to see your parents slip from you and the loss later will be painful. But in time you will be okay, again, especially if you find and surround yourself with a support group.

– Don’t be ashamed of what you are feeling. Don’t shut out your emotions and remain in denial as it may only make things harder for you. Hopelessness, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger – whatever you’re going through right now is normal so find a way to accept it rather than sneak your way around it.

– Forgive each other. Is there anything you want to ask forgiveness for? Is there anything your parents did that warrants your forgiveness? Talk it out – not to simply rid yourself of guilt, but to free yourselves from any unresolved issues, and hopefully build a better relationship together.

“There is quite literally nothing I can do about it and neither can you. I know that sounds dismal and depressing but it’s actually quite freeing. Their inevitable passing is no one’s fault but rather a reality we will all experience in our life. It is pointless to dwell on something that is out of your hands least of all one that is not an immediate concern.
Your only responsibility is how you participate in the time they have left because once you bury them those memories and you, their legacy, is what will remain. Stop worrying and go live.” – RidiculousIncarnate
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