I am 42. I am an orphan, and I am in profound grief. My mom died 10 years ago today, and my dad died 6 weeks ago yesterday. I am writing this for myself and for anyone else in similar shoes. When I first started this blog 10 years ago, it served as therapy as I grappled with young children and a dying mother. I am hoping this, these words, might act in the same way.
Grief is wildly different for every person. We all have unique situations and things that complicate our grief. Currently, I have long covid and I wake up every day feeling somewhere between sick to very sick. This, coupled with my grief, makes every time I get out of bed and participate in life a feat of both body and soul. And I’ll be honest, friends, I am failing. Hard.
I also have children. Who need me, a lot. For me, the sandwich generation is beyond the presence of both parents and children in your life. When my mother was dying, it was having an almost 2-year-old, being 7 months pregnant, and hanging bedside with my father during a month-long hospital stay during his heart surgery. The sandwich generation for me now is doing school drop-offs and homework assignments while untangling a complicated situation left by my father’s absence…not to mention that fathomless hole in my heart because he is not here.
As a dedicated introvert, it is harder grieving the death of a parent having 10 and 12 year-old children than a toddler and a baby. While diapers and feedings were endless when I lost my mom, I was able to retreat my tiny crew into our own world of walks around the park and Disney Junior (to this day, I can still recite every line of “It’s the Best Easter Party Ever!” from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as she died right before Easter).
Currently, having active, engaged children demands I still participate in the world at large. I sob until I am sick, then I get up and go to basketball games and Girl Scout meetings. There is no capacity to truly retreat, so the aloneness that could help me heal is not an option. There is also the very real component of managing my children’s grief along with my own. This wasn’t present when they were babies and is not an easy thing to carry.
Some people have been helpful, and so, so kind. My husband has been a rock. While I am so grateful for all those God has put in my life to love on me, I want my mom and my dad. In so many ways, I feel like a little girl crying for her parents, but they aren’t coming.
I am sinking and sad and so, so lonely. I have lost my home and my tether on this earth. It’s the kind of horrifically scary situation only my parents could provide solace for, but they are gone. I am falling, lost, without my safety net to catch me.
People ask how I am doing, and I don’t usually answer because it’s too many words. But these are the words. And they are going to be the words for a long time. I am down, and maybe someday I will get back up. Not today.
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Joanie Frank says
I am 41, 42 in May. Four years ago this September both of my parents died- 23 days apart from one another. I grapple with grief daily. I have 2 children, a 9 year old son and a 7 year old daughter. They were 5 and 3 when their grandparents passed. I’m terrified they won’t remember them. I’m an only child, in a matter of a month my family disappeared. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to navigate. It’s like a bad dream I wake up to daily, every new day is a new opportunity to re-feel the loss. It’s crippling. I wanted you to know you’re not alone. From one adult orphan to another. Thank you for writing this and I hope you feel better knowing that it is possible to move forward.
I am crying for you right now. I so appreciate you sharing this, and please know how much I see your pain. Hugging you with love. <3
Sally Decker says
Oh Meredith, I lost both my parents in 2015. My mom died April 4th and my dad November16th. I was with both of them at their passing. In the past year my brother Dan has been battling cancer and on Feb 5th sustained a traumatic brain injury and has been in Paoli hospital fighting to come back to us.I thought my parents death was the worse thing I had ever been thru, until my brother…i have five brothers and one sister…… i was the oldest and Dan is two years younger…I do not remember him not being here, I want to run into my mothers arms and say “make him better” please mom, make it better. Meredith, I’m so sorry for your loss…. My mom was the person in my life that could make it all better…. And my life is not the same without her….. it never will be and I accept that. In the last 7 years I have been amazed how my parents have made their presence known. In the laughter of my daughter, in the beauty of a warm summer day. A tray of warm cookies from the oven. Music from the radio. The smell of spring rain, Hugs from my grandchildren. I came from Dan and Gloria…..and one day I will return to them…..I’m here for you if you ever want to talk, or need a hug
Sally, this is so beautiful…and so sad and poignant. I am so very sorry about Dan. Please know I am hugging your heart, praying for you and so thankful for you being here. So much love <3
Sadly, I have no words to make things better or even soothe. However I am always here and you never have to pick up the phone when I call except when you really want to. You are shouldering a lot and have been for the last ten years. Praying that you will feel God holding you close to his chest.
I love you so much. Knowing you are there has made all the difference. I love my daffodils <3 <3 <3
Teri Biebel says
I still go back and reread your piece from the Pee Alone book and it always makes me cry/laugh. Truthfully, even though I was in that book with you, your piece is my favorite of all the stories in that book. My dad is gone 12 years this year and my mom will be gone 6 this year in November and I still miss them both every day. The pain will subside little by little but that loss is always present. I’m sorry, I wish I had more uplifting words for you, but please know that your friends and loved ones are there to hold you in your grief. Sending you love, Mer.
Teri, I’m so sorry you are in these shoes too, and your kind words mean so much. Love and hugs back to you, friend <3
Joanne B. High says
Thank you, thank you for sharing these thoughts. Herb and I continue to talk to one another about the many levels of loss. You have shared it so meaningfully. We continue to think of you and your sister and your family members. Blessings….
Thanks so much, Joanne <3 <3 <3
I am very sorry to hear how difficult this time is for you. I, too, am an Adult Orphan and even though both of my parents passed away quite some time ago, it’s still hard sometimes. It is especially sad for me because they both died before they could meet their granddaughter. Take care, love, and take the time you need to process all this!
Meredith! I didn’t know this. I am so sorry, and the piece of not meeting your daughter. I know this hurts. Love and hugs always, my friend.
Thank you for this post. I wonder how you are doing. I’m 51 and have a 9 year old son. I’m an only child with an only child. My dad passed in 2005 and my mom passed in June of this year. Every day is a struggle. I feel lost. I feel sad. I feel scared. I feel like a walking zombie. I’m trying to be present but it seems nearly impossible. I’m so thankful for my son, husband, extended family, friends, and co-workers who help me through each day. Hoping 2023 brings peace and gratitude for all of us.
Oh love, I’m so sorry for your pain. It hurts so much. I think so much of being a parent is sometimes just walking through it as best as we can, and it sounds like you are doing that in spades. I know too well how just trying to show up is over half the battle, and please give yourself endless grace for doing this. And keep absorbing the love and support of those you do have so much. It hurts, and is so scary lonely, I truly know.