Friday, 30 January 2015

Always Your Mom & Dad


Today I held a married man's hand in public
Don't worry it's not a pre wedding mid life crisis kind of thing that was going on
I'm not the sort
It was, in fact,  a moment of support for someone who is a couple of decades older than I
Who has just lost a dear and very elderly parent.
There seems an unwritten rule in this world which says that if you are of pensionable age, then the loss of your mother or father is somehow cushioned by the fact that they were well past their " three score years and ten" and that the emotions felt are somehow less raw, less important and less valid than those experienced by someone who is bereaved at an earlier age.
In your seventies, you don't want to hear platitudes such as " she was a good age"
You just want validation for the grief that overwhelms you, the presence of which, because of your age, seems to elude most people

Grief  is grief........is.....well.......grief.......it's not rocket science
Even in the animal world
See below....Brutus grieves for his brother Hank who died in his sleep...heartbreaking


68 comments:

  1. Oh John...I'm glad you held that hand..x

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  2. You really did 'lend a hand' in a time of need.

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  3. Sometimes listening and hand holding is best and what they want and need.

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  4. What a lovely man you are.

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    1. Nope....I just feel strongly about this kind of grief

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    2. Yeah, actually you are both lovely and good. I'm glad he had you there to hold his hand whilst he grieved; someone who knew that age has nothing to do with either the quality or quantity of grieving.

      We love, we grieve... I could never give up love to avoid grief.

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  5. I'm so glad he had a kind soul near him!!
    I and my colleagues regularly 'comfort' men and women in their eighties and nineties who are either desperately missing a parent or child, or who have recently lost a spouse. I wholeheartedly agree with you, grief is grief and age has nothing to do with it, apart from poosibly longevity of knowing making the grief more profound!
    Heartbreaking but heartwarming too to see so much love and care.
    Kay xx

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  6. I read recently that you never get over the death of your parents. This helped me a lot and I realized that it's OK to mourn them for the rest of your life. We recently (I blogged about it) spent New Years Eve in a pub in County Kerry and the landlord shook our hands and made us so welcome. An handshake doesn't cost nothing but it's a wonderful warm gesture. Fair play to you John!

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    1. I remember your blog entry well Dave ......and why wouldn't your mourn them...if you loved them of course........for most parents are with you longer than anyone

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  7. oh those doggies broke my heart.
    Dear mother in law's first anniversary on Sunday.
    Susan x

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    1. I know attributing human emotions to animals is always dangerous... But you CAN see it in his eyes can you not?

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  8. Sorry. I couldn't bring myself to watch the video. It's all too true. Love is love and loss is loss. Just holding someone's hand and respecting their sorrow is a tremendous gift.

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  9. I can see your point about the grief aspect of it. I don't know how it is for other folks but I find as my parents got closer to the 70 mark they both became almost the center of my life once again. I spend more time with my parents now than I ever did as kid. Most of it is taking care of them but I had to build a retirement cabin for my Mother and move her onto our farm this Winter. I check on my Dad almost daily and although he can't do much these days he is always there lending me advice and catching the details I miss for whatever job I am doing.

    I can certainly understand how the loss of one's parent, even when you yourself are aged would be hard to take.

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  10. People do need empathy more than that 'oh, buck up and get over it' crap. Good for you, John. Grief deserves dignity.

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    1. Sometimes a platitude is ok, if acknowledged as such

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  11. Started to watch that video at work, but couldn't do it. So sad.

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  12. There is too little of the kind of healing touch you shared with that poor man. Even though it is proven that touch whether holding a hand, a hand on the shoulder or a hug when appropriate does much to relieve pain & emotional stressand yet, it is something people seldom do these days. I find that very sad because it is something we all crave at one time or another & is such a basic human need. Just think of infants who are never touched often died or don't develop normally physically,.mentally or emotionally.

    My Dad died suddenly when I was 32. When I returned to work barely anyone acknowledged it. In fact, most avoided me that week because they were so uncomfortable. When my Mom died a few years ago, I felt like an adult orphan. Strange that there is no actual word in our language to describe an adult who has lost their parents. You are right age has nothing to do with grief over the loss of a parent. Personally, it was harder when my Mom died because she lived long enough for us to have built a wonderful relationship as adults who enjoyed each other's company. Very different level of relationship than we had when I was younger. If you look online, there is virtually nothing written about what it is like to have your parent die when you are an adult. I have met many people who wished there were something on the subject just so their feeling could be validated & not feel alone in their grief - but there is no where to talk about it or anything to read about it. It feels like society is sending the message that it is wrong to grieve over your parent(s) death when you are an adult. I bet that man will never forget that you cared enough to hold his hand when he needed it most. Now if only more of us were as thoughtful as you the world would be a kinder place.

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    1. It all comes back to a psychiatrist I once worked with
      He always said quite simply
      " you FEEL what you FEEL"
      It's a wonderfully encompassing and validating statement

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    2. Ellen, I so agree! I lost my Dad to pancreatic cancer when I was 27. My world stopped, and now, aged 60, I still mourn for the life we should have had together. My Mum died, when I was 57, also of pancreatic cancer, and I mourn for the pain and suffering she endured during this horrible disease. I miss her so much: we were at loggerheads for the first part of my life, but when I had my kids, albeit as a mature mother, she and I suddenly melded into a friendship that I wished we could have extended and enjoyed. Everyone said what a great life she had aged 81 but to me, she could have gone one for ever, and I miss her words of wisdom, her optimism, her personality, and her warmth and love.

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  13. Love and sharing of grief does not come easily to some people. Fear of looking silly, or shyness. It is something I also feel strongly about. Very much so. x

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    1. I oh so agree Rachel..... The only show of real emotion my mother showed at her mother's funeral was a brief head rest on my father's shoulder.
      Just noticing was oh so important....

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  14. Death 'levels the playing field' so to speak. We the survivors enter a world devoid of every day nonsense and we just want and need comfort.
    You know that language, John. You did well.

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  15. It doesn't matter how old you are, you are still someones `child'. Sadly my Dad died when I was 32 but if I had been 72, I would miss him just as much. You are a good man John.
    Twiggy

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  16. Sorry, cannot watch the video. It is terribly difficult to find words to comfort someone who is grieving without resorting to clichés. Grief is a natural process and there is no right or wrong way to help people. You just have to judge at the time. I think letting people talk freely about the deceased without saying too much often helps. But then you have quite bit of experience in this area, and so would have a better idea than I would.

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    1. No, actually I fully agree with what you say
      Be true to yourself.....it's the honesty that often helps Andrew

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  17. We respond to grief very badly on the whole. Which, given its universal nature is both strange and silly. Parents of still born children are told that 'they can have another', those who have lost much loved animal companions are told 'only an animal' etc, etc. Part of it is we focus (badly) on the one who has gone and ignore the pain and the longing in front of us. Can't fix it - so we step away.
    I am so glad that you could be there.

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    1. I never realized that grief is a kind of hobby horse of mine....I probably feel more strongly about it than most things

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    2. Years ago I worked with someone who lost a daughter to cancer. I didn't know what to say - so said nothing. I still beat myself up over that, and try and do better.

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    3. You are absolutely wrong
      Silence sometimes is so appropiate me thinks

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    4. Some days silence is appropriate, but an acknowledgement of his pain wouldn't have gone astray either. I am so sorry, or words to that effect.

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  18. You showed great compassion, John. Vx

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    1. I held his had for a minute...we all should be able to do that

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  19. How very true. Grief is grief, and the other person's age has nothing to do with how much or how little you grieve for them. If that person was very dear to you, you're going to grieve and well-meaning platitudes are beside the point.

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    1. Elderly spouses are often supported well but not the adult children

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  21. In a tiny little way, I've been grieving for a loss this week. My BFF has been visiting before she flies off to NZ in two weeks' time and the departure from the train station the other day was bad enough. My son took a pic of us which says it all really, I may blog about it soon. I heard an interesting article on the radio the other week about dying from a broken heart through grief. They've actually done studies on it in Chicago. I'm trying not to feel broken-hearted and am saving all my thick skin for 14th February when she leaves for good. Luckily, I have good people here who will hold my hand.

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    1. I should have added friends to my entry nana..shouldn't i?

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  22. Well that was a sad start to the day watching that darling dog grieve for his brother . I remember when my mothers mum died my mum aged in her late sixties said in a sad little voice "I am an orphan now". It broke my heart. John you did a lovely thing acknowledging the gentlemans grief. We often don't know what to say to people when have experienced the death of a loved one . I dread the day I lose my mother and I too am orphaned xxxxx

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    1. Leisha
      I am an orphan too!

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    2. Oh John that is sad . I send a motherly hug your way xxxx

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  23. Dogs do love better than a lot of people so I guess it's not surprising they do grief too...

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  24. It has taken me several minutes to get a hold of myself enough to be able to type this. My father died in Sept. and my mother died two weeks ago. People offer condolences and I have been saying that I have been lucky to have had both of them so long in my life. I'm 60. But the truth is I truly miss them especially my mother who I spoke to every day. That leaves a very big hole in my daily routine. It doesn't matter what age you are when you lose your parents, becoming an orphan is akin to sailing the ocean of life without a sail!
    The video is beyond sad and to hear the owner finally breaking down too is heart rending. I'm glad you were there John and thank you for writing this.

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    1. Mary things are incredibly raw for you....so sorry xx

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  25. We are all children once more when a parent dies, no matter our chronological age.

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  26. Right now, this very evening, the lost of my friend of sixty years Ed, is hitting me very hard. He usually came down to his place at Rehoboth Beach on the weekend. I could call him anytime and ask "Want to go out to dinner tonight Ed?" Ed died January 27th at 4 AM in the morning. Never again, never can I call him for dinner. For years we have been doing this. Never again. Another piece of my life, gone. Eventually we all get used to a loss of a loved and close one but life is never completely the same. Thank you for this very touching post.
    Ron

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    1. I said to nana below that I should have mentioned old friends to my blog entry....
      Just as important and just as overlooked eh?

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  27. I can hardly see to write as my eyes are full of tears.

    My parents died when I was in my 50's. I had them a long time and loved them every day more and more. Loss of love is hard at any time.

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  28. Yes, people just need love and sympathy at times rather than platitudes.

    Love,
    Janie

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  29. I know we joke around a lot and take barbs back and forth, but bless you for holding that hand, John. The world is better for having you in it.

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  30. Mum died earlier this month..now I'm a snivelling wreck.
    Jane x

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  31. The world needs more of you,

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  32. I used to think I had to say something unique to comfort a grieving person; I never could get out more than a few words before starting to tear up myself. It felt like if I cried too I was of no help to the bereaved person, or that it took the focus off their grief. So I learned just to say "I'm so sorry" very quickly and then stop. It felt inadequate at first, but there's a reason that's the very phrase that is most used. Those few words pretty much cover what needs said to the grieving person. The rest can be covered by a hug or holding a hand, and listening.

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  33. I found it very difficult watching poor Brutus.

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  34. Beautifully said, J.G. It needs to be put into words, which you've done perfectly.

    Like some others above I cannot bear to play the video. There's no need to - I'm already feeling Brutus' pain heavily inside me.

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  35. There is a lovely story that goes around the internet from time to time about parents who find their young son sitting on the lap of an elderly neighbour who had just lost her husband. When asked what he was doing he replies, 'I was helping her to cry'.

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  36. I can remember going out to see an adult with learning difficulties who had lived with his mum all his life. She had died the day before I arrived. I asked him how he was feeling as I wanted him to express this instead of bottling it up so I could help him.
    'I feel like it is the first day of school again'
    I went outside after the visit and sobbed my heart out as that said it all really.
    Bless you John

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    1. I think all of us have stories like these don't we?

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  37. Love and death ....all the same even in the animal kingdom.

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  38. You are a good man and that video absolutely killed me.
    I lost my parents within 6 months of each other in 1997-1998. I remember my brother and I saying, "We are orphans." The weirdness of it never goes away and becomes more apparent when you have a child. His maternal grandparents would have loved him and he would have loved the attention. But all you can do is soldier on and tell him stories about them so he has some connection to them as real flesh and blood and not just some intangible idea of a grandparent.
    No matter how old someone is when they die, somebody has loved them and someone will miss them terribly. I personally hate when someone says, "God has a plan" Well, he didn't friggin ask me about it. Just hug someone if you have nothing to say, please.

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    1. Fifi, I spent 8 years offering training to various organisations on Coping with Bereavement and Loss". One of my slides was a list of things you don't say to anyone grieving. On that list was "It's God's will" and usually there was a murmur of agreement and plenty of nodding heads. During one session to community nurses in Rotherham, one of the participants who had grieved the loss of her daughter's boyfriend, when I got to this slide, spoke up and told us, "That was the only thing which kept me going", which taught me that for every list which most people will find either helpful or unhelpful, there will be others who feel differently. I learned so much from the people I worked amongst.

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  39. It's been a dozen years since we were sure (several times) we were going to lose my father. I like to think the extra years we've been granted may cushion the blow when it comes. I know it won't.

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  40. As others have said, no matter how old you or they are, you are their child, and they are your parents. Like Mitchell, I couldn't watch the video, either.

    There can be such strength and comfort given when you hold somebody's hand in a moment of deep loss.

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  41. Thank you so much John. My gramma of 94 years died last night. I am having trouble with it at age 49 but my mother is having a harder time. Your blog demonstrated very appropriately about how to try to help her and what not to say.

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  42. I'm glad you were there to hold that hand.

    I believe firmly that the longer you have someone in your life the longer you need to grieve for them for. You have made so many more memories and they have been apart of your life always. Letting go must be so hard.

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  43. I've just watched the clip, absolutely heartbreaking.

    And all the more so because although Suky seems to have moved on, Mavis and Rosy are still mourning the death of Charley. Rosy in particular is heartbroken. We find her sat staring into space frequently in places she and Charley cuddled up together. She also refused to sleep in Charley's favourite bed until we bought a new mattress for it.

    Dogs seem to understand death and feel it's loss more so than some other animals. Although saying that I have had a few chickens who were absolutely bereft at the loss of a friend.

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