5/23/19

when adults lose a parent; part 2: ways to cope




In Part 1, we discussed your reactions to losing a parent.

Our excerpt from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? continues.

Ways to Cope
As you attempt to cope with your own feelings, you may find that your relationship with your surviving parent changes in other ways.

In addition to helping with funeral arrangements, you may be called on to assist your already overwhelmed parent deal with health and/or financial problems. Under these circumstances, your mom or dad can seem uncharacteristically dependent and clinging. They may also have expectations of you that can feel burdensome or inappropriate.

Trying to manage all of the above in addition to your own family and work demands can stir of flashes of anger and resentment, which you may feel guilty about.

Take a deep breath and keep in mind the following:

- Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Each member of your family had a unique relationship and history with your late parent and their reactions to the loss will often reflect this.

- Respect the fact that the mourning process (yours as well as your parent’s) is difficult and takes time.

- Although mom or dad appears overwhelmed and not their usual self, this is temporary. She/he is an adult and still your parent. While some assistance is appreciated, mom or dad does not want to be treated like a child. Most surviving parents worry about becoming burdens to their children even under these temporary circumstances and don’t wish to relinquish their customary role in your life as providers of love and support.

Learn more ways to cope in Part 3.

5/20/19

when adults lose a parent; part 1: your reactions





This week’s posts are excerpts from Chapter 23, "I Lost My Parent", from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition.

Your Reactions


Losing a parent, indeed, both parents, is to be expected in life. When this happens though, it can shake your world in ways you never anticipated.

While you’re feeling abandoned (no matter how old you are) by your late parent, it’s natural to turn to your surviving parent for comfort and reassurance.

You may discover, however, that he/she is unable to provide support because of his/her own grief. Their preoccupation and withdrawal can feel like one more abandonment.

You may react by:

a) Becoming excessively anxious about your surviving parent’s health and/or safety.

b) Trying to assume the role of your late parent by taking over many of their tasks and responsibilities.

c) Pressuring your mom or dad to quickly dispose of “painful reminders” or sell their home right away and move closer to you.

d) Becoming impatient, annoyed or angry with the way your parent is coping with the loss.

e) Expecting your own spouse or partner to always be supportive and understanding of your situation.

f) Quarreling with your sibling(s) over who does what or who gets what.

g) Withdrawing.

In addition, you may struggle with guilt, remorse or other emotional unfinished business from your late parent’s final illness or circumstances of death.

In Part 2, we’ll help you understand changes in your relationship with your surviving parent.

5/16/19

your mom's worrisome reactions: part 2


(Part 2 is a continued excerpt from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition)


“We’re really worried about Mom. She keeps telling us she’s fine, that she’s always been the 'independent type' and doesn’t need any help. But we can all see how the strain is affecting her. It’s so frustrating the way she keeps rejecting our help.”

Many people who normally pride themselves on their self-sufficiency find it especially hard to let others help, even under these circumstances.

Try suggesting specific tasks you’d like to help with, citing your own interest in or skills with the problem. It’s okay to say, “We know you can handle that, but for now, we find it comforting to take care of it (the task) instead.”



“It’s been almost two years since Dad died, and Mom just can’t seem to pull herself together. She almost never leaves the house anymore and refuses to join any family activities.”

Keeping in mind that each person grieves in his or her own way and at their own speed, your parent may be experiencing major depression as well as going through bereavement. Suggest he/she talk to a trusted doctor or clergyperson, who can, if needed, refer your parent to a mental health professional.

5/13/19

your mom’s worrisome reactions; part 1




(Excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition)

“Since Dad died, Mom has acted like she could care less. She hardly shows any sadness and is going to all her usual activities. I don’t understand this. My folks were married a long time. I thought she loved my dad. What’s going on?”

The lack of obvious emotion in a surviving parent can be upsetting and confusing.

Some people, especially men, don’t show sadness or tears because of family and/or cultural pressures to “be strong” and hide these emotions.

Also, while it may look like mom or dad is indifferent to what has occurred, keep in mind that all marriages have conflicts and issues that children, even when adults, are not aware of. In cases where a marriage was conflicted, one partner felt oppressed by the other, or there was a lengthy, difficult disease, the survivor often feels relief or liberated when death occurs.

While your parent may seem disloyal, remember that you don’t know all the facts.

More in Part 2.

5/9/19

widowhood way back when: whistler’s mom






Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother, famous under its colloquial name Whistler's Mother, is an 1871 oil-on-canvas painting by American-born painter James McNeill Whistler. Now owned by the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, it occasionally tours worldwide.

Anna McNeill Whistler posed for the painting while living in London with her son. Several unverifiable stories surround the making of the painting itself; one is that Anna Whistler acted as a replacement for another model who couldn't make the appointment. Another is that Whistler originally envisioned painting the model standing up, but that his mother was too uncomfortable to pose standing for an extended period.

The work was shown at the 104th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Art in London (1872), but first came within a hair's breadth of rejection by the Academy. This episode worsened the rift between Whistler and the British art world; Arrangement would be the last painting he would submit for the Academy's approval.

The sensibilities of a Victorian era viewing audience would not accept what was apparently a portrait being exhibited as a mere "arrangement"; thus the explanatory title "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" was appended. It was from this that the work acquired its
popular name.

Whistler would eventually pawn the painting, which was acquired in 1891 by Paris' Musée du Luxembourg. As a proponent of "art for art’s sake", Whistler professed to be perplexed and annoyed by the insistence of others upon viewing his work as a "portrait."

In his 1890 book The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, he writes: "Take the picture of my mother, exhibited at the Royal Academy as an 'Arrangement in Grey and Black.' Now that is what it is. To me it is interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public to care about the identity of the portrait?"

Given this outlook, whatever the level of affection Whistler may have felt for his own mother, one finds an even more divergent use of the image in the Victorian era and later, especially in the United States, as an icon for motherhood, affection for parents, and "family values" in general.

For example, in 1934 the U.S. Post office issued a stamp engraved with a stylized image of "Whistler's Mother," accompanied by the slogan "In Memory and In Honor of the Mothers of America."

Later the public's interpretation of the symbolism of the painting went even farther afield, and it appeared in a myriad of commercial advertisements and parodies, such as doctored images of the subject watching a television, sometimes accompanied by slogans such as "Whistler's Mother is Off Her Rocker."


Now, is that any way to talk about a mother?

5/6/19

making it through mother's day - this year



Holidays like Mother’s Day can be difficult, especially during the first year after your loss. Gift items and cards are advertised everywhere, bittersweet reminders of happier family times.

Mother’s Day may stir up the pain of loss for you, your children and/or grandchildren. If you’ve lost your spouse/partner, it may also remind you of your own deceased parent(s).

Children in particular can feel left out and troubled while others around them celebrate the occasion.

Here are some tips for helping your family cope:

a. Acknowledge your own feelings of loss by talking about how you miss your spouse/partner or parent. When children see you sad or tearful it lets them know their own feelings are normal.

b. Have younger children create “remembering” cards, with photos or drawings of special memories about their parent or grandparent.

c. You may find it comforting to visit the cemetery or other place of remembrance.

d. If there is a family gathering, make some time to share fond or funny memories of your loved one.

The feelings Mother’s Day stirs up won’t just go away. It’s best to acknowledge the occasions, even briefly, especially with children. Otherwise, these emotions will come up another time.

5/2/19

reflections from lost my partner: words of wisdom





1) Your limitations in coping are temporary. With time, you’ll get better at handling responsibilities.

2) Trust your own instincts while sorting out well-meaning advice from others. You are the best expert on you.

3) Try not to let others pressure you. What is right for someone else is not necessarily right for you.

4) If possible, postpone any major decisions for the first year. Your ability to make sound judgments is temporarily out of order.

5) Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect to be able to make serious plans at a time when having to decide what to do tomorrow can feel overwhelming.



Hope these help.