Five Positive Lessons in Facing Grief

By Puchta, Charles | Aging Today, September/October 2008 | Go to article overview

Five Positive Lessons in Facing Grief


Puchta, Charles, Aging Today


As I look back at how much I've learned since my father's death, I see many ways in which helping professionals could have assisted me had they understood more about the significant frustrations and regrets I faced. Since then, I've identified five positive lessons from dilemmas mat confronted the - lessons mat might help others handle their grief at the end of a parent's life.

Diagnosis vs. Prognosis: Initially, I spent most of my time trying to understand leukemia, as if I might be able to read a bunch of articles and find the cure. However, I was so focused on the disease and its treatment that I initially lost sight of the person and how my dad's condition would likely affect him and his lifestyle.

For example, I did not expect the day to come - and did not know what to do when, as a passenger in Dad's car, I would witness him honking at other drivers despite the fact that it was his driving that was hazardous. Anotiier time, while visiting my parents' home, I found him no longer able to manage his finances and other aspects of life.

Pleasant vs. Purposeful Conversation: Looking back, I wish I had delved deeper when Dad and I spoke. I realize now that we talked a lot about generalities. I wish I would have read Mitch Albom's book Tuesdays With Morrie and engaged in more meaningful conversation with my dad. I wish I would have been purposeful about capturing stories that seemed memorable but would soon be forgotten. More man anything, I wish I would have expressed my love and appreciation more. It's a wish list I've learned is common to many.

Questions vs. Opinions: When Dad and I did talk about issues relating to his health and weU-being, I was quite opinionated as though I, somehow, knew what was best for him. Later, I realized that his pride (or stubbornness) probably led him to become more aggravated and less accepting of help. Had I asked more questions instead of being so quick to take charge and try to fix things, we might have had more open and honest conversations.

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