There are few inevitabilities in life. When we are taking care of aging parents we’ve got to prepare ourselves for the fact that they will pass away. It’s not necessarily something that we want to think about, but emotionally and practically it can be something that can help us get the grieving process started. But in one respect we will struggle to imagine life without our parents as they’ve been there for all of the big moments in our lives we will have to face them at some point. And as difficult as it can be, what can we do to prepare ourselves?
Serving Their Wishes
We have to remember that as our parents get older or become unwell we will want to avoid thinking about them passing away, but we have got to remember that preparing emotionally can help us and help them. We need to remember that there are things that they will want to leave for us and there are things that we can help them to do. We could help them to create a record of their life by incorporating stories and anecdotes into a book or even prepare a videotape for them to leave behind sage advice. And as morbid as it can be from your perspective, helping them to prepare for the funeral can help to achieve closure. Picking the songs for the ceremony, the dress code, and even the headstones, can be a very therapeutic process. Helping your parents to pick through headstones made by Memorials.com or other suppliers can give them a far better idea of the legacy they would like to leave behind. We have to remember that it’s not just about us; we have to serve their wishes first.
Reminisce Before They Go
We live a life of regret on occasion. It can be magnified when someone we love passes away. There is always that regret that we didn’t tell them that we love them or forgave them when we had the chance. If we take the opportunity to honor them while they’re still alive and reminisce about times gone by it shows them how much they mean to us. One of the things we tend to do is wait until the funeral to share those funny stories or what they meant to us. In one respect this is futile. Why don’t we include our parents when we’re looking back? It’s one of those little moments that you will remember forever. Taking an opportunity to remember about times gone by and bring things up that you had completely forgotten about can give you a newfound perspective of the situation and also of your parents. In one respect it’s the perfect opportunity to be their child again rather than being all grown up. When our parents treat us like children it can be frustrating but it’s at this point where we should remember that they want to view us as their babies again.
Understanding Your Grief
Preparing for their death is physically and psychologically draining. We’ve got to remember that grief is such a diverse topic. Everybody grieves in their way. There is some advice on Winstonswish.org to highlight this. But some people feel that they have already grieved for their parents before they went. This is especially true with those that have dementia or age-related cognitive decline. And the very act of passing away solidifies it in their minds. The most important thing to remember is that each situation is unique. When we are preparing for death it is something that we have to recognize but also understand that these things can take time. Grief is not a one-size-fits-all situation. And this is especially true with our parents. When we start to think about those times when they picked us up after we grazed our knee, all the way through to helping us buy our first house, all of these little acts given by someone who is not here anymore can greatly overwhelm us. And grief is not something you need to go through alone. But you should also remember that grief is about celebrating who they are. When our first parent passes away it is a major shock and everything caves in but we have got to remember that if we focus on the act of death we’re not celebrating their life.
And don’t forget it’s not anything you need to go through alone. There is always plenty of help available through professional organizations. We all prepare in our way.