My Parents Died Within A Year Of Each Other

My advice

Talk to people you trust - share your feelings - there is no shame in admitting you need help - life is about the future not the past but we should not forget who made us and supported us through our formative years

My recommendations

My story

Both my parents died within a year of each other. My Mother first who had been gradually deteriorating with a number of respiratory complaints which made her largely mobile and very weak. One of the awful things about watching someone go downhill to a point that you know there is no return is the inevitability but more the helplessness of knowing that you can do nothing about their situation.

My Mother died in the January - I was by her side when she passed away - seeing the last minutes of her life was both traumatic and reassuring in that I was there with her for that moment with her sister - and I felt she had been released from the pain and daily struggles she was experiencing and was peaceful and at rest.

What was possible the worst moment of my life came the day after when I had to meet with my Father and tell him the news that his wife had passed away. When you go for interviews you often get asked what was the most difficult thing you have had to do in your life - I suspect that the interviewers would not be expecting this answer - but it was without doubt the hardest conversation I have ever had - to say to your Father that his wife of 40 plus years had died was that moment.

Sometimes out of such an event comes hope and life. My Father had until that time been suffering from dementia - this resulted in hallucinations and also typical symptoms of short-term memory loss and confusion but being able to remember what he had for dinner on his Birthday in 1947!

I believe the shock of the news of his wife's death changed him - in the last year of his life he became very lucid and clearly was able to articulate his daily routine in the care home and he also reconciled a 20 year stand-off with his brother whom he had never spoken to since the death of his own Mother when they had fallen out over various things.

When in turn my Father died I was somehow better able to cope with it at the time through having been through the experience with my Mother a year earlier. I did not spend much time away from work after either's passing - probably a mistake in retrospect. I did not receive any bereavement counselling - why would I need this?

It has only been several years later that the magnitude of what happened has really hit me. I am a single child and somehow, strange as it may seem I have felt as if I had been left very alone - despite having a deeply caring and loving wife.

On an evening when I was talking to one of my closest friends, after a few drinks, about this - she had been through a very similar situation and is an only child that we discovered we both had similar feelings and could share with each other that these feelings were not strange and through talking about them was a hedge release of what felt like a heavy weight bearing down on us and we have been able to provide ongoing support for each other.

But for a wonderful, true and caring friend then I suspect I would have had a much more difficult and uncertain future trying to reconcile the feelings of loneliness and loss.