The Book: Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

The Quote: “He’s not even been gone twelve hours, it can’t be that. It had better not be, it’s dangerous to become too attached to people. I think about Paul McCartney. He and Linda never spent a night apart during their marriage, except for the time he got arrested in Japan. Did that make it easier, I wonder, when she died, or much harder?”

This is a question that has always stymied me: if you see someone often, does that make their passing less or more difficult?

As I deal with my Father’s illness, and the fact that my Mother is also older with her share of health problems, I have contemplated this question a lot. Will I feel better about their passing if I were to spend more time with them?

I have no good answer.

I know some people tell me I will feel better if I see them more. I know other people tell me it won’t make me feel any better if I see them more. The only consistent is that everyone says it sucks when your parents pass…and that everyone’s journey is different.

Is there a set amount of time to spend with the people you love? To spend with your immediate family? Or is any time spent too much and too little at the same time? Is this something that can be balanced out?

Spending too much time with family can mean not spending enough time on yourself- I think my Mother sacrificed an actual life by doing the every Sunday at the parents thing her whole life. I think her over devotion didn’t help her with her own issues. Conversely, my Dad was distant from his parents and I don’t think that helped him emotionally, even though it enabled him to do well at a career. Two different approaches- neither was quite right.

If it seems like I’m floundering here, it’s because I am. I really don’t think there’s an answer to this question, yet I desperately want a How To guide as to How To Deal With Grief. Yet, I know there is no one size fits all approach to anything- there’s only suggestions and tips.

But for now, I will continue on the path that I think is right, and hope that I make peace with whatever route I choose.

49 thoughts on “More or Less

  1. Good morning LA, what you said about everybody’s journey is different and when parents (or other people we are close with die, it sucks) resonates with me. I have thought quite a bit about grief and loss the past several years…I’ll probably shoot you an e-mail. More than will fit here into a comment thread. Thank you for writing this mornings thoughts! Sending “I care” and “I hear you” thoughts from the Hinderlands. DM

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  2. No matter what you choose you will always second guess yourself. When my mom was sick I visited her more often. On the last visit, I decided that it would be my last. We all knew she had little time left. I chose not to return at the end. I wanted my last visit to be one where I could talk to her and remember that. I still second-guess that decision.

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  3. I’m sorry , friend. As a Christian, my belief is that the only thing that matters now is whether you will be with them in eternity. As far as grief, you can’t prevent it by avoiding it or preparing for it. If you’re not enjoying spending lots of time together at the end, there’s no reason to force it. It won’t immunize you from the coming sadness. I guess I’m saying to do what feels right to you now. I think it really depends on your relationship and also on their condition . I am trying to spend more time with my 81 year old mom while she’s still healthy, but I enjoy it. When my father in law was slowly wasting away in a nursing home with dementia, we didn’t go see him that often because it was too painful for my husband. Don’t feel guilty for whatever you choose . It’s so hard . I know you’re a planner , but you can only let this one play out . Hugs and prayers for peace .

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  4. I wish you well on your journey, LA. I have not been through that death of parents, yet, and I am not close to either one (emotionally or physically), so I have no clue what my reaction will be. As you say, we each will have our own way of dealing with the grief.

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  5. I wonder if your mother — and other mothers — did the Sunday family thing out of obligation or delight. Sometimes it’s a chore spending time with family. Other times it’s a delight. I know I go through withdrawal if I don’t see my son and his family once a week. My other son I have to be content with every couple months. I think its how much you WANT to spend time with others vs how much you HAVE to spend. Good thinking this morning!

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  6. I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer to your question. I like theycallmetater’s answer.
    I think there is a great life lesson in the example you shared of your mom spending every Sunday with her parents–it comes with a cost.
    When my own father was ill then passed away my daughter was a toddler so I was trying to balance those responsibilities. For whatever reason my mom didn’t want my daughter to come along for the visits—which made navigating time to visit even harder.
    I think there is also an issue of remembering someone how they were as a person–not just remembering the person they were in the last parts of their illness.

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  7. It’s hard isn’t it? No right answer, no best plan, always wondering if we could do better… And you know none of us can give you an answer, we can only listen and offer support as you walk through this. It sucks, but as someone who also approaches life in much the same way as you and has wondered and faced the same thing I can say this- be gentle and accepting with yourself as much as possible…there will always be nagging questions about decisions…you will find a level of peace at some point…do what you can to prepare your daughter now-meaning do what you feel is right for your relationship with her going forward. In doing that you may help her to face these same questions later in her life. I hear you, and send hugs.

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    1. I’m actually going to post about what I’ve said to my daughter about all this…I appear to be much better at talking about it with her then I am with dealing with my parents…

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      1. There you go, the perfect example that you are growing, learning and as much as possible trying to stop that cycle you have faced, and that started long before you were alive. These questions and responses are so wrapped up in inherited family culture. Our parents were lost in all of it. So many of us have finally recognized how much we are influenced and have the courage to change things as you are doing.

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      2. I was just on with my mom….she actually said don’t tell k (my husband) about what’s going on….while I understand situations….to not want me to discuss things is just not right

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      3. Agreed. It’s up to us now as parents to change this established narrative. I can already see how my changes are impacting how my oldest parents who children. I’m proud to know I’m doing better than what I learned, and that it will hopefully continue. Remember that for your future.

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  8. My parents are turning 90 this year. I don’t think about grief, because so far they are in decent health for their age. I think you may be borrowing guilt worrying if you’re spending enough time with your parents. Do what is best for you and don’t wait to tell them you love them. We are going to miss our parents and second guess our actions no matter what we do.

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  9. My dad died suddenly in a bike accident when he was 79. You are absolutely right, it sucks. But I think that what made it easier for me to be at peace was that I had spent time with him in the years prior to his passing paying attention to him. Asking him about stories from his life. Finding that ease in our relationship that meant that we’d talked and seen each other – that he knew I loved him and I knew that he loved me. As father/daughter and as people. I adored him and it still makes me cry 7 years later to type this.

    There is a greeting that African bushman use when they spot someone coming out of the bush. “I See You” they say to the one arriving and the one approaching says, “I Am Here.” I think of that exchange as the simplest representation of what I felt made my dad’s passing okay. The grief I feel just makes him a deeper part of my heart with every pang.

    Whatever happens with your parents and the peace you make with it, please know that I See You. Sending peace and support!

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  10. I have not lost my parents, but I did lose a son. I can only speak from my point of view, the hardest thing (after his death of course) is living with regret. Regret that I didn’t do more, say more, apologize for something dumb I said. If you’re going to spend time, make it quality time. You never know when you run out of tomorrows.

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  11. Everyone and everyone’s situation is different so there is not one right answer. I did not live close to my parents for most of my adult life so I mainly saw them once a year. Those were our circumstances and I don’t know how I could have done it any differently, but I know I wish I could have seen them more. This is a hard time for you, and I am sorry for that.🙏

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  12. In 2015 I held my father’s hand as he took his last breath. The pain of his loss was so deep. We usually got together for holidays (life changed when he left my mom and I had a new stepmom as a young adult). So I didn’t see him as much because now he had three younger step kids to help take care of. But the grief, I don’t believe, was lessened because he had a new family. Losing a parent is hard regardless. When you know it’s coming, this leaves your mind to overthink. I remember doing that in the weeks ahead of his death. In the end, regardless of the amount of time spent together, it’s going to hurt to lose a parent. I’m sorry that you are having to deal with this harsh reality. I wish I had more comforting words to offer.

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  13. I often wonder how I will react when my parents pass away. Will I feel like I’ve spent enough time with them? Is spending too much time with them going to make me miss them even more?

    I’ve learned that if we accept that change is part of life, we recognize that it doesn’t make death any easier, it just makes us realize it’s a part of why we’re here. I believe it’s so important to have these conversations. We need to talk about death as openly as we talk about politics (bad example). Death is so taboo in American society, and this is a large part of why we see loss the way we do. It makes losing someone even more difficult because we can’t talk about it openly.

    Thank you for talking about it.

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  14. I think you’re putting the cart before the horse. As someone who’s lost both parents at different times and within two different types of relationships, the only thing I can say for sure is that you won’t know until you have to go through it.

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    1. Of course I’m putting the cart before the horse…but we have friends who are all….you’ll regret it if you don’t spend more time, and as opposed to slapping those people I’m trying to listen to their point of view…I’m growing

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  15. As you know, I’m right there with you! A recent discovery I made about Mom and me, given the states we’re each in, is that it seems some time away from her in her current delirious state made it easier or at least more comfortable to be with her after I finally bit the bullet and went back.

    That ease may have been enhanced by the comments I get from all her caretakers who didn’t know her before, that she just seems happy to keep talking to anyone who comes into her orbit who of course could never be expected to know anyone she mentions. She just talks to these newbies like they know what she’s talking about and I think that my use of that approach, as some of my friends suggested earlier, is what made this recent visit with her easier for me.

    I think I can now accept that she doesn’t know who I am when I’m there either. What I’m saying here may be kind of confusing if you haven’t been there yet yourself but thanks for letting me say it.

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