Parentless

Just lost your parents?

I remember the story that a friend told me after her father died, her mother had passed on a few years earlier.

She told me that losing her parents had been a big stressor in many ways.

Most unexpectedly however was  the feeling that she’d finally grown up after her Dad died. I asked her what she meant, she was 55 years old after all.

“Now there’s no one looking after me. I had always knew Mum and Dad where there for me and even though I have children and grandchildren of my own, I still had this safety net of my parents.

 “Now I’m the matriarch of the family and that buffer between me and the end of my life has gone.”

“I feel like I’ve been forced to grow up quick smart, face my own mortality, it’s quite a blow and I don’t know if I really want this responsibility!

It made me realize how lucky I am to have my parents still but also made me question my feelings surrounding being a daughter and a “grown up” at the same time. I came to the conclusion, despite my sometimes volatile relationship with my Mum, I am still her little big girl and I like that I can turn to her or Dad when the chips are down.

But of course my parents won’t always be there and, like my friend, I’m not so sure I want to be the matriarch in my family. I think that’s why collecting family stories has become more important as I grow older, it helps keep my colourful family intact for generations that follow.

Remembering these special people; who they are, what they did and how they were; is powerful stuff that helps us understand ourselves and our place in the world.

If you are parentless and have a story to share about your experience, we’d like to hear it.

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:53 am  Comments (4)  
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Widowed

Losing a life partner at anytime of your life can be like losing a limb.

Widowed after 46 years of marriage, my mother-in-law suddenly found she was living a life so different from the one she had all her life.

The traditional role of wife and mother had overnight extended to financier, gardener, handyman and chief decision maker. Topped off with the loss of her nearest and dearest, her life became very stressful.

After the plethora well wishers moved on to their normal lives and financial matters were settled, her sense of purpose was challenged. We worried about her a great deal.

It’s been a few years and now and Grandma has actually flourished despite our concerns. She’s successfully re-homed herself and manages all her affairs better than most of us do.

However it is the loneliness that is her greatest pain, it brings on boredom and with boredom comes a great deal of time to worry away about life, relationships, the economy.

Have you a surviving parent, or are you a widower? Can you share your story with the group?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:51 am  Comments (1)  
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Genealogy

We will probably never know why some people are driven to collect family history and trace their lineage, while others give less than a cursory interest in the subject.

I would hazard a guess that many of those searching for their family links are people who are looking for their connection to the world. In western cultures all too often we seem to be lacking in ‘stories’ that have successfully transcended generations.

For many indigenous people, such as the Maori and Aborigines, story-telling is an inherent part of their culture and connection to tribes and the history is vitally important for their sense of self and belonging.

Today’s often chaotic world doesn’t offer much of a connection to anything.

There’s so many kinds of families today that the traditional nuclear family is more of a rarity than the norm.

So how do the keen genealogists do it?

We’d like to hear about some successful searches and how key information was obtained. Can you help this discussion?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:50 am  Comments (5)  
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Children & Grief

How do kids grieve? There’s scores of books on kids and grief. In a nutshell, you can’t control grief it has to take its course and that may take some time. Therefore patience and understanding are paramount.

In a child’s world, especially under 10 years of age, life is very egocentric. That means, the children believe that they have are the centre of everything around them. If someone dies, young children are often unable to see it from any other perspective other than their own.

It is not uncommon for children to take on the responsibility of the loss, or the sadness of the grieving of family. An enormous and unrealistic burden for anyone, especially a young child!

There are many great books available to help you help your child through their grief.

Visit the library at www.amemorytree.co.nz .

Help others by sharing your story here.

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:49 am  Comments (1)  
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Losing a Sibling

No matter what our age, losing a brother or sister can have an enormous impact.

You may be best of friends or worst of enemies. You may be alike or wildly different and you may have even developed polar opposite ideas on how life should be lived, despite being raised in the same family.

It never fails to surprise me how different my sisters and I are yet we have shared a similar upbringing and early childhood experiences.

Despite our differences, it’s with these early childhood experiences that a unique familial bond is formed. This bond is a special belief about the person your brother or sister is and what their place is in your family and in your life.

Survivor guilt is a strong emotion common place amongst living siblings. “Why them?” “Why wasn’t it me?” “I’m pleased that’s not me, but I feel guilty feeling that?” “My parents are inconsolable, was he/she their favourite?” and so on.

How have you overcome losing a sibling? What was your experience?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:47 am  Comments (1)  
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Holidays & Anniversaries

Anniversaries and holidays are special time that many families and friends come together to enjoy each other’s company. They are also reminders of the ones that are missing.

Our family has chosen to send “messages to heaven” at Christmas time.

We each take time to write small notes and poems and place these in helium balloons. We then release the balloons together and as they float out of sight, “heaven-bound”, we all feel a load lightened and reconnected to each other again.

There are many unique ways to celebrate and remember loved ones. Can you share yours?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:45 am  Comments (1)  
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Losing a Child

My journey to parenthood has always been a little more challenging than I would have liked but it has made the gifts of my children more valuable.

My daughter and step-daughter are brilliant, funny and so much a part of my life that I couldn’t imagine losing them.

However earlier this year I lost a child, snatched away hours after she was born, the loss was unbearable. The shock was indescribable. The grieving continues.

Her suffering, her fight, her tiny life hanging in the balance and I couldn’t hold her when she needed it the most. Mummy couldn’t make it better.

Her future …. our future with her …. gone.

Life says – we simply don’t bury our children, they bury us. That’s how it’s ‘supposed’ to be surely.

Sadly parents do lose their children, young children and grown children alike,  and with it  comes a unique and particularly difficult time for us. Our family is still learning how we can turn this experience into a positive one.

 Can you share your story with our readers?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:44 am  Comments (1)  
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Murdered

I lost a friend in 2006, he was murdered.

I was a senseless and random act of violence that has become more common-place today than it was a few years back.

Nothing my friend could have said or done would have made a difference. A single blow to the head with a bat was all it took to take this well- loved 43 year old accountant’s life.

Of course the profile of the murderer was typical. He and his mates were out on a Friday night looking for to create trouble on the streets. They, at only 18 years old, were already known to the law makers.

Murder makes us angry. It’s no longer an accident or an illness that we are seeking to come to terms with. It’s the blatant disregard for life that seems to have poisoned our communities. It’s the theft of a life that had so much more living and laughing to do, and it’s everything and anything that your friendship could’ve been gone forever.

How can we prevent this from happening? How do we come to terms with our losses? How do we support the families who have suffered so badly?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Terminal Illness

You knew it was coming … there was no way that they would survive the illness. Yet you’re in shock and maybe a part of you is relieved it is now over. Your emotions are all over the place.

Terminal illness can see your loved one having gone through a great deal of pain and loss of dignity. You may feel angry and confused or even scared for your own life journey.

It’s important to remember that your feelings are a natural reaction to this type of loss. However it’s possible to become stuck in grief at these times. 

Can anyone share how it was for them when they lost a loved one through terminal illness?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:41 am  Comments (1)  
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Family History

Interested in your family history?  The best place to start is by talking to your older living relatives, the best time to start is NOW! Important links and vital clues can be lost when these people pass.

Create a book and start keeping notes, remember to attribute the stories/information to the correct people.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to photos – scan them and get them saved electronically. Certificates and special papers can also be scanned and stored on a reputable web storage facility such as http://www.amemorytree.co.nz/

Remember sorting the information in some kind of order is less important than finding it  before it is lost forever.

Has anyone got advice or real life stories on their own family history searches?

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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