The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change after the Death of Our Parents

The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change after the Death of Our Parents

The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change after the Death of Our Parents

The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change after the Death of Our Parents

Synopsis

Losing our parents when we ourselves are adults is in the natural order of things, a rite of passage into true adulthood. But whether we lose them suddenly or after a prolonged illness, and whether we were close to or estranged from them, this passage proves inevitably more difficult than we thought it would be.

A much-needed and knowledgeable discussion of this adult phenomenon, The Orphaned Adult validates the wide array of disorienting emotions that can accompany the death of our parents by sharing both the author's heart-felt experience of loss and the moving stories of countless adults who have shared their losses with him. From the recognition of our own mortality and sudden child-like sorrow to a sometimes-subtle change in identity or shift of roles in the surviving family, The Orphaned Adult guides readers through the storm of change this passage brings and anchors them with its compassionate and reassuring wisdom.

Excerpt

All they want is for you to be
the daughter that you might have been
if this were 1942,
to stay in the black-and-white house
and come softly down the shadowy stairwell
to sit on the couch with them, and watch the silence.

Dad, you say, please,
and you want to give them the world,
show them it's not so bad, good things to eat
in it, and shared music, maybe some live
entertainment, schmaltzy and outdated.

But they say no, thank you,
no world, and they do
the same thing every day,
go get the newspaper, and feed the cat,
resenting the way it rubs against their ankles
the way it did your mother's,
the same supper every day with the evening news.

You send them tea from England,
cookies from Norway,
you find these things unopened
when you come for Christmas
on the pantry shelves,

I was saving them, they say
embarrassedly, for you

Then they die, and there you are,
standing empty-handed,
your past snipped clean off,
the cat to feed.

-- Janet McCann
College Station, TX

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