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The trouble is, you think you have time

When my father died in 2003 at the age of 102½, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I was even less ready when my 92-year-old mother died a year after my son did. If you are close to one or both of your parents, I’m not sure you’re ever ready to be without them. And the younger you are, the more you long for their advice, guidance and support. Just because our parents are supposed to die before us doesn’t make the loss any easier.

an old black and white image of Margo as a baby being held by her father as she rests her head on his shoulder

When we’re little, we think of our parents as immortal, all knowing, people who can protect us and help us understand the outside world. As young adults, we get busy with our own lives. We want our parents to be available when we need them, but we think we have plenty of time to hear their stories, learn from them, spend time with them. And if we’re at a stage of life when we’re pulling away from our parents or at odds with them, their death can leave us feeling guilty about words we wish we hadn’t said and conversations we never had.

Until our parents die, we have never known life without them, and the reality of the loss is hard to come to terms with. For years, we may find ourselves like the heroine of Anna Quindlen’s novel One True Thing, standing with the phone in our hand, ready to make a call and “only then remembering that the woman I need to speak to has been dead for nearly a decade.”

At Salt Water, you can connect with others who have lost one or both parents at a variety of different ages. Understand how they cope with the yearning to have one or both parents back. Discover how their parent’s death changed them and their lives. Find out what they do to keep their parents’ wisdom and love alive as they move forward and learn to make a life without them.

Some of our favorite pieces on parental loss:

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