HOW GRIEF EVOLVES
By Joyce Parker, Ph.D.
Since this month our subject is grief, I decided to include this piece I wrote which expresses the evolution of my feeling of loss and sadness since my parents have died. I too went through the stages of grief described by Dr. Stoll in her article on Widowhood and have come to a level of acceptance of their loss that has become more and more manageable as time passes.
My parents died two years ago. But it has only been recently that I've begun to feel the finality of their passing. I think about them almost every day. Often my own wondering thoughts trigger a memory or something I see or hear or do reminds me of them. I miss being able to make my father a lemon meringue pie or leave the allspice out of the pumpkin pie because my mother doesn't like it. I miss being able to see the pleasure in their faces when I come to visit them or hear the happy surprise in their voices when I phone them. I miss their joy and pride in my children. I miss being able to brag about my children to them. I miss my parent's genuine interest in my life.
Death is so hard to truly accept. I sometimes can't believe they are actually gone and I will never be able to see them again. Often the feeling of missing them weighs heavily on me. I will never again hear my mother's joyful cackle or laugh at one of my father's witty remarks. My mother will never plan another holiday meal with me. I will never again watch my father carve the Thanksgiving turkey or lead the Passover Seder. I will never have to call them again to see how they are or to let them know how I am. I miss their presence in my life, the presence that I took for granted all my life. How fortunate I was to have loving parents. How difficult it is to acknowledge that love, to cherish it fully while it still exists in the living world.
So I am left with my memories of them. And those memories sustain me. I am also left with the example of how they lived their lives, now seen from the perspective of their death. I can evaluate what I would do similarly and what I would do differently. Being able to see their lives from beginning to end deepens my understanding of life. So even in death they have given me something. I have come to appreciate how much they have given me.
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