Over the weekend I spoke at length to a very close friend, and our main topic of discussion made for some sombre conversation.
Like me, my friend now has only one surviving parent, after sadly losing the other earlier this year, and I understand his pain after the loss of my own father in 2016.
And that’s the thunderbolt moment for many, the realisation that instead of being the ‘child’, it’s time to step up to the plate and assume some responsibilities for the remaining parent, because life can never go back to what it was before. In both our cases the remaining parent is suddenly more frail than anyone would have expected, the loss of their life partners a shock from which they may never completely recover.
Naturally, most people who haven’t gone through such an experience quite rightly assume that the surviving parent will go through a natural process of grieving, however, more often than many would expect, the comfort and support required can change into long-term care needs.
And so, the frailty of the surviving parent becomes a stark reality, it’s often a real blow for grieving adult children to realise that the funeral of one parent can become a time for planning for the care of the surviving parent.
So apologies for the heavy subject matter, but with all our recent talk and debate around mental health awareness we need to face into this stuff. Most company bereavement policies support the time around and immediately following a bereavement, but what happens six months down the line? Or a year later? Or more?
I ask the question because I’m two years down the line, and my surviving parent has needed more help and support over the past few months. Catching up with my previous blog ‘A Change of Address’ will help tell the story.
But I’m one of the luck ones, I now work within an environment that understands that life doesn’t stop at the office door, and I’ve had fantastic support, but am I still in a minority?
We’ll never fully move forward with busting the myths around mental health until we tackle some of the more taboo and grittier issues, such as menopause, stillbirth, self harming, menstruation etc, and of course the fact that the impact of bereavement doesn’t end when a coffin lowers or the curtains close…
So just like the conversation I described at the start of my blog, we need to talk…openly, frequently and honestly, because many of us will discover that there is another side of parenting.
We think Sue must be a ‘Master of the Dark Arts’, as she has hidden depths! Running our office with meticulous planning and capability, Sue is an avid list writer with a keen eye for detail. But don’t be fooled by that organised demeanour, for Sue is as creative as she is efficient! A skilled communicator with a humorous edge, Sue is as passionate about people and their learning and development as she is about becoming the future Mrs Tom Hardy or Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch (either will do!). An interesting career path has taken her from the glamour of working in luxury London hotels to the chilled Distribution Centres of supermarket retail, and whether managing small groups or large teams, people are at the heart of everything Sue does.