Aging Parents: A Conversation About Dying with Dad
It seems like a lot of elderly people we know — all in mid-80′s or older — are dying or have died recently. My parents, also in their 80′s, are doing well. Yet each time I share information about a relative with my parents I ask the question, “Should I be talking about this?” Usually I tend to blunder on, a bit guiltily, explaining treatments, palliative care plans, a memorial service, or other related topics. Tonight, after yet another conversation, telling my dad that a much-loved uncle on my husband’s side is in critical condition and receiving palliative care, my father spoke of being nearly the same age and how he thinks a lot about the end of life.
My initial inclination was to respond ( as I often do in a tut-tut sort of way) by saying, “Oh, but not you — you are so healthy.” Instead I said, “Yes, we are all learning how fragile life is and how lucky one is to live a long and healthy life with so many legacies that will live on after we are gone.” We went on to have an interesting conversation.
Then Dad said, “Thank you for not saying that my end-of-life concerns are not to be worried about.” Because, of course he is worried about dying — he thinks about it a lot. Somehow my brain figured out, finally, the best and most respectful way to respond, and Dad let me know it.
Thanks, Dad, for a lesson learned.
March 25, 2010 - Posted by Marti Weston | aging changes, aging parents, end_of_life, Fear or Anxiety, Frustrations When Growing Older, Respect, Senior Health, senior parents | aging, aging parents, bereavement, dying, elderly, living_rich_lives, senior _health, talking_about_death, talking_to_seniors
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Becoming A Grown-up Child
One day in April 2007 my husband and I were the adult kids in our families — we are the only adult children — and the next day we became what we laughingly call “real grown-ups,” helping first one, then two, and for a while all three of our parents. It’s time to give back, and we do so willingly and happily. However the process is not easy, and it is not free from anxiety and tension. Check out the As Our Parents Age About page to learn more about the mission of this blog.
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