Is The By-Product Of Experience, Empathy?

Posted: 9 years ago | By: Christine Somers | In: Our Aging Parents | Read Time: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

{Early morning at the Lake}

Until you personally experience the loss of a parent, the depth of that loss is unknowable. While I was genuinely saddened by the pain my friend’s felt over the death of their parents; I didn’t understand the magnitude of their loss until I experienced it myself. Today when I hear from a friend that their mom or dad is entering hospice or has passed away, I feel I know the journey they are traveling. For many the journey started months or years before with multiple visits to the hospital or an extended nursing home stay. My sadness for my friends is now coupled with empathy and knowing that I lacked before the death of my parents.

I also know that the funeral is not the end of the sadness. It takes time to move through the grief. The sadness and grief that followed me home did not release me until almost a year after my mother’s death. Candidly, I spent a couple of weeks sitting on the sofa staring into space. I am a person who is in motion all the time so it was a bit troubling to those close to me. It was also troubling to me because I believed the funeral should be the end of the sadness.

Wisely I made the decision to talk to a trained therapist. While my friends are lovely people and would listen to me for as long as I wanted to talk, a therapist knows how to actively listen and to ask pertinent questions at the right time. The sessions have been helpful because these directed conversations helped me see that my life was forever changed with the loss of my parents. What this has meant to me is that I don’t want or can’t go back to life as it was before. I am in the process of giving myself permission to make big changes.

Many an early morning I wake to find a cloud has come down and engulfed the lake. It is dense and the world feels mysterious. As the sun rises and warms the earth, the fog disappears as it evaporates and turns into invisible water vapor. The water has transformed from liquid to a gas but it is still in the air. After a period of upheaval a transformation may need to take place to remain true to who we are.