When there is much regret about your relationship with a parent, the end of life is an even more important time. No matter how many times we feel defeated or rejected by a parent, people usually continue to hope that something will enable healing or change. If so, you are very aware that this may be the last chance to ‘make something right’.
The time of dying often brings what is essential in life keenly to the fore, and so it is a time to consider the essentials in your relationship rather than the petty concerns. Start by examining your own feelings.How do you feel when you look at your parent? Do you feel love, fear, gratitude, anger, a desire to reach out to him? Feel whatever it is, and sense what you feel about them in this moment, not last week, not 10 years ago, but right now, in this moment, as you look at them.
Ask yourself: “What do I want them to know or hear from me before they pass?” In this questioning it is most important that you really sense what you feel, not what you have felt for the past 20 years or so. Your body will give you the feelings that will let you know what is essential to you about your relationship with your parent AT THIS TIME, given everything, but especially given that they will soon be out of reach. It will bypass grudges, resentments and whatever is real will come to you freshly, if you let it, the surface stuff. Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now…….what is in my heart?
For some, it will be love and the desire to connect and give comfort, if so you are fortunate you will probably be able to give that and feel a sense of completion and peace after they pass. For others, it may be pity or compassion, you want to be kind, but have no need of them, the relationship perhaps died a long time ago. You may feel that you want to say what you have been angry about, if that is the case I caution you only to see if they are looking for truth. I have known people close to death who wanted more than anything to connect truthfully and embraced the anger as a gift before moving to forgiveness. They also had the heart to forgive you for youthful assumptions and past mistakes. Anger can be transformational when given with respect for each other and for positive outcome. Be careful not to blame, though, or don’t beat someone emotionally when they are down.
However, if they are not able to connect with you, and you sense they do not look for resolution and don’t want to hear your anger, then consider what you want to do? Look at them closely, keep checking your feelings and trust that the right answer will come to mind. Some have felt completely unmoved, yet noticed that their anger has gone, or their hurt. A different experience. Whatever it is, embrace it, and accept the feeling. How you choose to act towards your parent will depend on your values, or beliefs about what your role as his son or daughter means to you now. You may choose to give comfort and nurse them, you may choose to say your goodbyes, offer forgiveness if they ask for it and you want to acknowledge it.
Allow time for you to consider what you choose to give at this time, knowing it will be about how it will end for you both.Turn your full intention to what they are saying with their eyes as well as his words. People are often surprised by the change in their parents towards the end of their lives. Maybe they have suddenly realised what is essential to them, instead of what they thought was important. You know the pay rise that was essential, now fades and you may suddenly appear as the most important person, because of the unfinished business.
Do not overwhelm someone unwilling to receive, even if you want to express love and gratitude, give them what they want to receive and don’t insist on more if they clearly indicate that they do not wish it. However, you can still give in your heart and mind and send that to their life source, soul, spirit or the essence of the person. After they pass, it is what you will carry with you, that part.
It has astonished me at times, that relationships that seemed completely far apart, suddenly blossomed during the last months, weeks or days of their parent’s life. They found they were able to understand each other without words, sense the other person’s needs. Children have found the joy of finally being able to give their love and having it received, or the acknowledgement, maybe apologies given that they had long given up hoping for.
Finally, truly witnessing a person as they are, without old hurts overshadowing them is the deepest respect and acknowledgement there can be. It says: I see you exactly, both good and bad, poignant and annoying and I salute you. I acknowledge who you are, whoever your are. I see your humanity, it is what we share.
Being your best friend writes about low self esteem, and how we need to understand the difference between who we are authentically, and what we became in order to cope. We hope to give support and information on how to improve that fundamental relationship in our life – the one with ourselves.
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