Losing a Parent as an Adult

“Losing a parent is like losing a part of oneself”

Debra Umberson

In what we consider to be the great scheme of life, it is a natural progression to lose a parent. Part of the slings and arrows of life's misfortunes.

Fate determines the life span we are able to share with them. Recently two dear distant relatives died aged 97 years. My dear parents had been dead over 40 years by then, seemingly a lifetime ago. 

Society doesn't really expect adults to have a strong reaction to the loss of a parent. After all, it happens to everyone and is expected, especially if they are aging. However, as the quote above states, a parent is a huge part of oneself whatever age you lose them. 

See also helping children cope with the death of parents

Our parents are usually the only ones who have known us since we were born.  Often they know us better than we know ourselves.

We are still someone's children until our parents die, so their deaths mark our final passage into adulthood.

We might also lose our connection to our childhood home or familiar surroundings that we are used to visiting and feeling safe. For those who have children, there is great sadness that the grandparents are no longer around to see the children grow up.

So, parent loss is very great, especially with only children and those who never married.

Losing a parent is always a major loss

It is always a major loss and difficult to cope with whether the relationship was good or bad. The parent-child relationship is strong.

When you have had a loving, friendly, happy relationship with your parent, their passing will create feelings of emotional turmoil and despair. Feelings we all experience after the death of someone we love very much.

As well as the loss of their physical presence, there is also the loss of their advice, support, help, knowledge and counselling in times of life's stresses.

There is a very special bond between parents and children. To lose one's parents is a traumatic time in life no matter what age they may be at the time; no matter what relationship you had with them.

Learn how to cope with losing a parent here. 

Bleak landscape reflecting sad thoughts on losing a parent

Losing a parent with whom you had a difficult relationship

The shock, numbness and pain of the loss is no less, even if the relationship was not as good as you would have liked it to be. Losing a parent with whom you had a difficult relationship can be complicated, with feelings of guilt, blame and regret to contend with.

Though some people do feel relief that they can get on with their lives if their parent was violent or neglectful. In spite of that, there is still regret that the relationship was not better.

If the relationship has been feisty, detached or difficult, perhaps between two individuals who were so alike they usually ended up moody with each other, there comes into the mix a huge amount of guilt. There is sadness that the relationship was not as good as you would have liked it to be, plus the sense of loss that there is no longer the opportunity to put it right.


It was still a special relationship so forgive yourself.


If you had a relationship like that, then forgive yourself. You were only one part of that relationship and can't take total responsibility, especially since you were the child, not the responsible adult. 

Many close relationships have a love-hate balance in them. If you were indifferent, you'd not be grieving or worried about what you did or didn't do. What you said or didn't say.

The pathways of bereavement are difficult enough, don't burden yourself with more imaginary wrongs. Your parent probably knew you and understood you better than you did yourself.

Recommended Read: 

Related Pages:

How to Cope with Losing a Parent

Best Books on the Loss of a Parent

Support for the Loss of a Mother

A Son's Thoughts on the Loss of His Father

Loss of the Family Home

Helping Children Cope with Losing a Parent.

"I Lost My Dad" by Julie Nierenberg

> Losing a Parent


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Memorial Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia is one of the earth's oldest plants, with a spectacular flower which dates back 95 million years.  What a beautiful specimen to commemorate a life. 

These trees are grown by the foremost magnolia nursery in the country and they will send a variety most suited to the recipient's climate. 

The flowers in spring will bring joy to the bereaved and help to heal their heart.


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