My parents are in their seventies now and although relatively healthy, I can see certain issues starting to affect them and they are both starting to look frail. Every time I see them, I get more and more anxious about the day that I’m going to lose them. I can’t help but worry and get upset about it. I can’t imagine them not being around – we are so close. But I am an adult with my own family; I know I have to lose them at some point. Am I being irrational? Sarah
The knowledge that you have is rational, but I don’t agree that you ‘can’t help but worry’. It sounds as if you are almost teasing yourself, like a child snuggled in bed and imagining the cold outside. Please forgive me for my bluntness, but I imagine that if you had a choice, you would prefer to die before your children.
On that level, our willingness to go before is part of our love as parents. Yes, you will grieve when they are no longer with you: it is a privilege to love and be loved, and grief is part of that deal. I find resonance with the idea that tears are one way in which we honour our dead, and I’m sure you will honour your parents when the time comes.
Right now, are you doing everything you can to create special memories, to take photos, to ask questions about your parents’ lives, perhaps even to video them telling them some of their stories? A
nd since you are so close, have you talked to them about how you are feeling? I am sure they would have wise words out of their long knowledge of you.
Read: Research by AgeUK on life’s little pleasures
Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line