The last goodbye


“But she wasnt around, and thats the thing when your parents die: You feel like instead of going in to every fight with backup, you are going into every fight alone.” â€• Mitch Albom, For One More Day

No matter how old you are, losing a parent is a difficult rite of passage. In the April issue of Michigan Prime, I talk about facing life changes in midlife after your last parent dies. Look for the magazine in your Sunday Detroit Free Press this weekend. Click here to read “The Last Goodbye” in the online edition, on page 4.

4 thoughts on “The last goodbye

  1. Loved your essay ‘The Last Goodbye’. My dad passed in 2012 and mom this past November. Yes, while I am released from caregiving responsibilities I grieve from feeling orphaned. I have no kids so am missing that feeling of having ‘family’.

    • Thanks for writing, Vicki. I don’t think that grief ever disappears, but we learn to live with it and to treasure our memories. As an only child, I can relate in many ways to missing “family” (though I have a husband and son). My mother was an only child, and my dad’s only brother was many years younger than he was. Both of my parents taught me that “Friends are a family one chooses,” and putting that advice into action has brought me great joy and support throughout my life. I hope you have friends who are as close as family to you as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing, “The Last Goodbye”. My Dad too passed…in 1992 from cancer and fortunately because of Moms good health, she remained active playing bridge several times a week and creating a flower paradise in her garden. Years later, in 2004, Mom suffered a mild stoke which eventually led to Dementia. My sister became ill In 2006 and I then found myself caring for Mother and sister, visiting two different nursing facilities daily. I’m sure I was on automatic pilot leaving work downtown visiting both nursing homes, then home exhausted, to care for the family at home. My sister passed early 2007 and Mom on New Years Day, 2008. Even though I was surrounded with love from my wonderful husband and two loving children…I felt like an orphan; I was an orphan! No doting Father, nurturing Mother or loving younger sister; My heart had been broken. Where would I now go after work? I yearned to touch, see and have conversation with Mom even if it were one-sided ….there was such a huge void in my life. Years have passed, but many times, a song, a saying, or flash of family dinners, outdoor bbq’s and simply sitting with Mom looking out into her garden…wonderful memories cross my mind. Now I know…they are etched in my heart forever and never again as an orphan.
    Wishing you well and many warm memories….
    Donna C.

    • Donna, thanks for taking time to share your losses with me. You’re absolutely right about finding comfort in your memories — and I believe, too, that we can find a different version of “family” in our friends and neighbors as we age.

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