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Yoga and Healing Arts

Unique Loss & Grief—Parent Loss for Adults

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Tea Room Conversation, Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts

Judith has worked for Beacon Hospice, Inc. an Amedisys Company for approximately seven years in the role of Bereavement Coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Services Management. In 2005 Judith received a certification in Spiritual Direction from the Spiritual Directors Internship Program hosted at the Campion Spiritual Development Center in Weston, MA. In 2012 she received a certification in thanatology from the National Center for Death Education (NCDE) at Mount Ida College, Newton, MA.

Judith hosts bereavement and caregiver support groups in the Metro West area and will begin a group at Roots and Wings for WOMEN WHO HAVE LOST THEIR MOTHERS or mother figure through death. This six week group begins on Monday, April 8, 2013 from 6:30-8 PM. A person must register in order to participate by calling the Beacon Hospice office at 508-875-1380.

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Tea Room Conversation with Judith Chaloux

Losing a parent is something we all have to face at some point in our lives.  When a parent dies, it affects us so deeply and differently than any other loss.  A social worker working in the bereavement field shared, “I lost my own mother two years ago and experienced what it was like being on the other side of the fence.  On the same day that my mom died, I had a heart attack and was unable to attend the funeral.”  Doctors attributed this episode to having a broken heart.  (Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition, also referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, brought about by stressful situations such as the death of a loved one (Mayo Clinic, 2012).  We are never quite ready to say goodbye to people who have played such an important role in our lives.  Being someone’s child is the basis of our most identifying characteristic—our names. 

Parents shape our lives from the day we first arrive and ultimately, even before.  In the article, Life before Birth (Federico, 1999) it states, “At the moment of birth, babies have already accumulated a host of experiences and memories shared with their mothers and fathers.”  These central figures in our lives nurture us through the roller coaster ride of childhood, guide us and support us as we grow, and can remain our foremost mentors well into adult life.  Parents are the first and most prominent continuous certainty in our lives.  As children, they are like gods to us!  They potentially have the power to hurt us but also to help us heal from our emotional bruises.  They teach us what they know by word and deed.  We absorb so much of our personality style from our parents and exhibit certain traits later in adulthood.  With this in mind, we respond either by being flattered when reminded of the similarities with our parents or remain openly defensive at these commonalities, deciding long ago never to be like them.  Like it or not, our parents were the main influences that shaped our lives and provided a unique spot on this earth; a spot called home that exists whether parents are kind or unkind, attentive or neglectful, young or old, healthy or sick, living in a family home or in a nursing facility. 

The loss of a parent or parents as an adult can resemble the changing of the guard.  The older generation is now leaving and there is no buffer for those left behind.  This is sometimes a harsh and eye-opening reality for adult children; a situation frequently referred to as becoming an adult orphan.  There is now no one to confront and question on matters that might have affected us in childhood and often these matters need to be processed and healed.  Support group participation is a helpful venue that encourages conversation with others and discourages the sense of aloneness that often accompanies a person after a loss.  

The losses that can produce incredible pain after the death of a parent are called secondary losses such as the selling of the family home, changes in family holiday traditions, or perhaps the need to go through and divide the family memorabilia.  These events can produce feelings of confusion, fear, guilt, anger, and sadness well after the date of the death and can leave a person wondering why he or she is still grieving. 
Rituals assist us in coping with death by acknowledging two major dimensions of human life—continuity and change.  One such healing activity might be to reset some of your mother’s old jewelry to hand down to a grandchild.  The act of remembering deceased parents through ritual allows their memory to remain timeless and helps to heal the pain of this unique loss!

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