The Parentless Daughter

A few weeks ago, we buried both of my parents. The heat index that day was way over 100 degrees, but I know that my parents would have loved the beautiful day. There were boats on the lake, the pretty flags flying in my hometown and the Dairy Queen bustling with people. It was a perfect summer day and a special day to honor my parents.


At age 45, both of my parents are gone and I feel a bit orphaned. I know that when they both adopted my brother and I, they were older parents already. They were both 43 when they adopted me, twenty years older than some of my friends parents. I’ve always known how much they wanted children and overall, I think they adapted to being “older parents”.

I think my brother and I were lucky to have them for as long as we did. My dad died at age 81 and my mom lived two weeks past her 89th birthday. That is a long time to be loved by them. We were both lucky to find one another and bridge the gap.

I have lived many adult years but I think I will always be a child in relation to my parents. Even taking care of both parents before their deaths, it is still my parents of my youth and childhood that I buried. I have been doing a lot of reading lately and author R. Scott Sullender says in his book, “The world is a different place after our parents die”.

My relationship with my parents wasn’t perfect. Few of us have trouble-free relationships with our parents. I know some of us look back with maybe harsh words spoken, deep rifts and missed opportunities to express love. I am confident that our parents forgive us and we need to move on.

Nothing will ever be the same after losing my parents. Mom and Dad will not be there to applaud my accomplishments or give me direction at a critical crossroad. They won’t be able to see Sophia do well in school or watch Emme sing in the choir. They will miss many of our life’s events but they have left a mark on my world.

I’m moving forward by remembering all of the treasures from childhood and adulthood advice that they gave me. All of those hard learned lessons that they tried to teach me. Some successful, some not so much (like sewing!).We are who we are, thanks to their love and nurture. They have tried to guide me as best as they could.

For all of you who have lost a parent or both parents, hang in there. Sorrow is very deep and very real. Talking to my family and friends has been very helpful. Grief is present but not overbearing.

For those of you that still have your parents, enjoy them. Really enjoy this time with them. I love getting to see all the grandparents at hockey and baseball games and getting to see all of my friends parents. Our parents are a gift that lasts only so long. Ask questions about their lives, be involved in their care (if able) and remember that we are all getting older. Don’t let pride stand in the way of a past issue. I had a client’s family tell me today that the time with their mom was not enough. She is dying from breast cancer. She reminded me of myself four months ago, while I watched her sit with her mom and just holding her hand. Life is very short.