Trauma: The plight of the adult orphan

I think I have written about this before, but I can’t recall, so here goes.  When you go to google and type in the word “orphan”, you get a long list of websites dealing with this topic.  99% of these websites deal with young children and their plight at being orphaned.  Now, I don’t despel that this is a horrible thing.  One of my major fears as a child was that my parents wouldn’t come home one day and I would be on my own.

As I grew up, stories of how close I came to losing my Mother were told to me with staggering regularity.  My Mother, as readers of this blog my know, fought a battle with Hodgekins Lymphoma in her 20s and early 30s.  My mother was given months to live several times.  She survived to raise me, and passed in 2009 of a disease so far away from Cancer is beggars the imagination.

One of the things I heard over and over again, from very well-meaning people, was “well you had her a lot longer than anyone ever thought you would.”  Really?  Would you go up to a 10 year old, pat her on the head and say, “well at least you had your Mommy 10 years.  What more do you expect in this world?  Suck it up, buttercup.”  Probably not.

But that’s what adult children who lose their parents feel like.  I have read stories of people who have lost their parents, the parent was in their 80s, and despite the advanced age of the parent, the child feels just as alone and lost as that 10 year old child.

Losing one’s parent is the natural order of things.  It’s expected that your parent will go before you do.  But what is lacking among the public, HR departments in employers, and even medical professionals, is that losing a parent is just as traumatic to a 65 year old as it is to a 10 year old.  It’s still your parent, its still the person that was your lifeline to the past, its still the person that connects you to your family.

The effect is even worse for the person who has lost their last parent.  I can say that I am not at that point yet.  I lost my Mother about 4 years ago, but my Father is still living.  My thoughts go to when I will lose him.  I don’t dwell on it, mind you, but when I sit and think about the grieving process, it comes at me full force.

I know there has been scientific research on this, some books published (not very many), but I feel like there is much to this story that hasn’t been told.  I’ve always wondered if I could write a book like that.  Maybe I will.

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