The Forgotten Grievers: Adult Children

smiling senior woman and middle aged daughter outdoors closeup p

“The Adult Children grieve totally different than any other group and they are really the forgotten grievers.” – Kent Allen

Adult Children generally have they own lives that are fairly independent of their parents.  They are married, have families and are busy with school or careers. The problem with their grief is that nobody really pays attention to them.  They are the ones that visit home to help their remaining parent cope with financial, legal and emotional issues.  They take on the burden and responsibilities of the parent they lost in an attempt to lessen the load.  They are often seen as a rock and provide emotional support to their remaining parent.

Despite the strong front they put forth, adult children still have to grieve.  Because they are not faced daily with the absence of their parent, they tend to grieve slowly and over an extended period of time.  They tend to have triggers that go off even years down the road.

Kent Allen told the story of his wife who lost her father 3 weeks after they were married.  13 years later he came home to find his wife sobbing in a rocking chair.  She has been thinking about her dad and had had a grieving attack.

Adult children will start to grieve when their remaining parent starts to date or gets remarried. They may grieve when they get married and their parent is not there, or when they have a child the age they were when their parent died.  The loss of a parent can hit hard at anytime later in life.

As their parents or spouse, when those times come, we need to be willing to listen to our adult children who are grieving.

This means setting aside personal feelings and not getting offended that our adult children are having difficult accepting a new relationship that we are in.  It means not getting upset that we are being drawn back into difficult memories.  This means restraining our desire to try and fix them by telling them what they should be thinking or feeling or doing. If we can listen to our children and empathize with them in these moments of grief, they can become bonding family experiences.

After adult children feel validated and understood we can offer to help them and most of the time they will decline any help, except in the case of dating where they may suggest that we simply do not do it!  But seriously, in truth, they just want to be understood.

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