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  • Writer's pictureMaria

Why Grief Feels Different When Your Last Remaining Parent Dies

Losing a last remaining parent can have a profound affect

Happy memories

Today would have been my mum’s 77th birthday, and it’s now the third one without my anchor and unwavering support. Being a grief specialist doesn’t mean I’m immune from sad feelings, or rather more happy memories these days with the odd shock wave that comes along unannounced every now and then.

I thought this would be a good time to share the different kinds of grief that accompanies losing your last parent.

Losing a last remaining parent can be a profoundly unique and complex experience, and the grief associated with this loss can feel different for several reasons.

Loss of primary support

When your last remaining parent dies, you may lose the primary source of emotional support, guidance, and care that you may have relied on throughout your life. This can leave you feeling a deep sense of emotional disconnection and vulnerability.

Loss of parental identity

The death of your last parent can evoke feelings of orphanhood, regardless of your age. You may experience a shift in your identity, as being someone's child is a significant part of how we perceive ourselves.

Feeling like an "adult orphan": Losing both parents can lead to a unique sense of aloneness in the world. Even if you have siblings or extended family, the feeling of being an "adult orphan" can be overwhelming.

Triggering memories of previous losses

The death of your last parent can reignite feelings of grief and loss associated with the passing of other family members or friends, potentially intensifying your emotions.

Navigating the estate and legal matters

When your last parent dies, you might be faced with the responsibility of handling the estate and legal matters, which can add to the stress and emotional burden.

Confronting your mortality

Losing your last parent can also remind you of your own mortality, which can be a confronting and difficult realisation to process.

Family role changes

With the passing of the last parent, family dynamics may shift, and you might need to take on different roles within the family, leading to added responsibilities and changes in relationships.

Loneliness and isolation

The death of both parents can lead to a profound sense of loneliness, especially if you were particularly close to them. You may feel like you've lost the anchors in your life.

Reflection on the past

The loss of your last parent may prompt reflections on your childhood, family history, and unresolved issues, which can be emotionally challenging.

Lack of parental advice and wisdom

Losing your last parent means you can no longer seek parental advice or share significant life events with them, which can leave you feeling adrift.

Loss of your parents’ friends

The connection to your parents’ friends may also disappear, which can add another layer of loss.

It's important to remember that everyone experiences grief differently, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. If you're finding it challenging to cope with the loss of your last parent, consider reaching out for support from friends, family, or a grief professional who can provide understanding and guidance during this difficult time.

About Maria

Maria Bailey

Maria Bailey is an Edu-Therapist and founder of Grief Specialists. Her work as an Edu-Therapist helps people resolve their emotional pain through an education and action-based programme over a short number of sessions to lead to sustainable mental wellness. You can find out more about Maria here.


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