When I was a kid one of my friend’s father died. That was scary, and remained one of those unspoken demons I carried around. How do you survive if your father dies? I watched my parents deal with my grandparents death. But I was never inside their heads to experience what it was like.
I was able to talk with mom a couple weeks before she died, and I was able to be with her, although she was not conscious, through her last hours. Grief is sadness, constriction in the throat, tears. It comes in waves. You can laugh and chat at one moment and cry at another. It’s a profound feeling, but not for me an overwhelming one. Mom had faith in God and the life to come. I had time to hold her hand when it got cold, to talk to her, sing her some hymns. We had no unresolved issue. She was 86. Her health was failing, and she was slipping into dementia in an unhappy way. It was time to say goodbye.
The death of a parent is something that was unknown and unexplored for me. Now that I have gone done the path, I know that I will survive it.
My advice: enjoy good relations with your parents while you can. Don’t leave anything unsaid that needs to be said. Be there at the end if you can.
I was always afraid to talk to other people in grief — that condolences would just hurt. They don’t. It’s OK to say “I’m sorry to hear about your mother”. It’s a kindness and a connection.