If everything goes “right” in your life, as far as the natural order of things, you know you will one day have to bury your parents. We know this, we accept it, but until the day it happens to you, you never know what it’s actually going to feel like to exist in a world without one or both of the people who have been a constant for your entire life.
While I know there are some who – voluntarily or otherwise – have nothing to do with their parents, if you’re someone who has any sort of relationship with yours, here are 7 things nobody tells you about life after they pass away.
7. You worry about who will be next.
Now that you know how hard it is, how much it hurts, to lose someone close to you, it’s only natural that you will worry more about when the next significant death could hit you.
6. Grief doesn’t stop.
If you’re lucky enough to have made it to this point in your life without being directly impacted by grief, you might not know this, but it’s true – but though time makes things easier, it doesn’t actually heal anything.
Your feelings, your grief, will always be with you. After a time, though, you’ll be able to manage them better until an anniversary or a memory or something else pops up.
Once people are gone, it’s natural to feel a mixture of sadness and happiness at their memory.
5. It can take awhile to feel real.
A world without one of your parents can feel like a dream – a nightmare, really – where you still expect them to be there when you call, to drop by with some groceries, or to quote Seinfeld with you until you both crack up.
Eventually, you’ll know it’s not going to happen, and it’s hard to say whether or not that’s better or worse.
4. Your important events will feel off.
Depending on your age, there might be more important events than you expected – a prom, maybe, or a marriage, the birth of a first baby.
Even if you’re lucky enough to hold onto your parents until those things have passed, there will always be gatherings – Christmases, other holidays, birthdays – where their presence will feel especially sharp.
3. It’s hard to turn off the bad memories.
At first, you’ll struggle with the guilt of the things you didn’t say, the things you said wrong, the times you fought and didn’t apologize, how you were too busy for them, and on and on.
That part will get easier as you move through the guilt stage of grief and happier memories find their way in.
2. You recognize that nothing will be the same again.
Parents are a constant in many of our lives, from our very first memories through our last ones with them – their death is a clear break of things into the before and the after.
1. You’ll be more thankful than ever for your siblings.
Whether you’re typically close or often fight like cats and dogs, there is no one else in the world who knows exactly what you’re going through, and you’ll be thankful to have them.
I’m getting closer and closer to the age when this is going to become personal, and it makes my heart heavy.
If you’ve lost a parent and want to add something in the comments, please do.