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Grieving a Parent’s Death at a Young Age: A Loss That Lingers

Grieving a Parent’s Death at a Young Age: A Loss That Lingers

Grieving a Parent’s Death at a Young Age: A Loss That Lingers

Source: The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “No Quick Fix for Childhood Grief” (Op-Ed, Aug. 26):

I read Hope Edelman’s article on losing a parent at a young age with the clarity of recognition. I lost my father to suicide when I was 14. During and after that tumultuous time in my life, there was no place for me to grieve. On the day of his funeral only one person asked, “How are you?”

There was always silence around his death. I watched my mother fall apart and often be blamed for his suicide. I felt that I needed to take care of her and not the other way around. It was only this past June that I learned of incomplete mourning while reading William Styron’s “Darkness Visible.” No therapist ever asked me about grief and mourning.

My life’s narrative was indeed derailed and, as Anderson Cooper is quoted as saying of his father’s death, “changed the trajectory of my life. I am a different person than I feel like I was meant to be.”

I lost my father in 1956. Sixty-three years later, I still dwell on the consequences of that loss.

Sandra Allik
Cambridge, Mass.

To the Editor:

My dad died 40 years ago this coming December, and while I was not a teenager at his death (I was 27 at the time), I still feel his loss daily.

The arc of my business life changed dramatically (my nearly lifelong dream of practicing law with my dad over almost as soon as it began), and I mourn that he never got the opportunity to be a grandfather to my children, for them to feel his warmth and his strength. But most of all I miss his companionship.

I understand that I did not suffer my loss when I was still trying to sort out the basics of who I was, or trying to grapple with the fundamentals of the complex workings of the universe. But grief remains a part of my being, my soul, even as I near 70.

So while I understand that there are quantum differences between losing a parent in one’s formative years as opposed to when one is supposedly able to more easily stand on one’s feet, I still occasionally wobble four decades removed from the guiding hand of my dad. The pain of loss has no age limits.

Robert S. Nussbaum
Fort Lee, N.J.

To the Editor:

I lost my father during my teenage years, and Hope Edelman’s phrase, “the long arc of childhood grief,” resonated deeply with me. The death of a loved one during childhood and adolescence can indeed have long-lasting effects, and must be recognized and treated sensitively.

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