It’s been a crazy month! Between work, volunteer activities and PRSA involvement, I’ve been dealing with family issues. On September 19, my father-in-law passed away. While a blessing in many ways, the family has struggled with their grief. I feel a bit guilty because, while grieving myself, I have been able to move on far quicker than my husband and his sisters.
It’s difficult for me to relate to their feelings. Not only do I still have both of my parents, but when my family members have died, it’s typically been after a long illness and everyone recognizes that he or she is simply suffering too much to enjoy life. In my father-in-law’s case, he had been ill for the last six or nine months. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and had been going through treatment off and on this year. On top of that, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and more.
The challenge for me is to provide my husband and sisters-in-law with comfort as best as I can. They have now lost both of their parents — my mother-in-law died in 1999 from an aneurysm. I have done some research on adult children losing both their parents, and it appears that many suffer from a sort of “adult orphan” syndrome. The theory is that, since the “comfort zone” or home base that exists with parents is no longer available and adults who have lost their parents feel as if they no longer have that to turn to in difficult times.
Has anyone experienced this? Does anyone have advise on how to comfort without intruding on the grieving process?