101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents # 2

I have a very vivid memory of the day we got our first dog. I was six or seven years of age and we were on a visit to my uncle’s farm. He had six or seven dogs and was more than happy when my mother expressed an interest in a lovely Dalmation who was sitting up on an old chair in the yard. She was ours if we wanted her! Mother called us kids to heel and said very gently that if we were going to take the dog that we had to realise that she was unlikely to live as long as us and that parting would be very difficult.

It seems to me that few people are prepared to address the ‘natural order’ of things when it comes to humans and somehow issues around the death of parents tend to be brushed aside. However, there is so much to be gained by having discussions about dying and death with one’s parents when they are healthy and well and in a position to outline their views and wishes.  Waiting until some major emergency arises can cause all sorts of complications. 

Clearly there are many topics that can be addressed but for so many it is the actual business of broaching the subject that presents the biggest obstacle.  I think the ideal lies in having parents open the discussion and have it as a thread running through their lives. To speak of death with close family certainly doesn’t cause death but it may well save a lot of suffering, second-guessing, regrets and unnecessary angst.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

6 thoughts on “101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents # 2”

  1. I certainly do agree so much damage is caused by families arguing over how mum, dad or sainted aunt Maud wanted things. My older (13yrs older) sister who lives on her own now being widowed many years back has the right idea.
    She has all her hymns and readings organized. Every detail of her funeral sorted and paid for.I intend to follow her lead. I shall leave no room for argument.I shall tell my boys what to expect. Xxxx

  2. When my father became sick, we were supposed to sit down, he and I to go over his requests. Somehow the timing never seemed right! Of course, once he was hospitalised, it seemed rather too late. That said, he had some very good periods and asked me to bring pen and paper so we could get all the details he wanted – he was VERY specific!
    Still, there were things that we knew he wanted us to have but those did not get written down and we are now in the uncomfortable position of having to deal with his girlfriend, of the past 22 years.
    This caused us to have a serious conversation with our mother and her boyfriend to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN! (I’d be gob smacked if they actually did….)

      1. It’s crazy…. I think a lot of people don’t want to look at what needs to be done because they think it will make them die earlier! Crazy.

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