Sometimes in life people don’t live up to our expectations. Many people are disappointed in their family and their parents in particular. Unfortunately, there are people who have children who should have never become parents. Whether these parents are abusive, neglectful, or inept, their failures have impacted their children—sometimes in life altering ways.
Impact of Failed Parenting
As the children of these parent failures become adults, sometimes through therapy or just an adult viewpoint of the situation, these children are able to forgive their parents’ failings and move on. Sometimes relationships are healed through apologies and understanding.
Conversely, sometimes the damage is too great to ever really move past it. Sometimes these children cut off all contact, as that is the only way to maintain a healthy mental state.
Grieving the Failed Parent
However, when the failed parent dies, grief can sometimes become really complicated. Oftentimes, the adult child doesn’t just grieve for the death of the parent’s physical presence. There is also grief for the parent that never existed—the parent that every child deserves. The child grieves the ideal parent who loved unconditionally and provided a safe, nurturing environment in which to grow up.
Grieving the Ideal Parent
This grief can be really difficult to understand and work through, because this ideal parent never existed. How can you grieve for someone who never existed? How do you move past the anger associated with a parent’s failure?
I’m not a therapist, and I don’t feel the answers to my questions are universal, so I don’t really have answers to the questions I’ve posed. However, I’ve witnessed this complicated type of grief from some of my clients and friends. From that experience, I have learned that it helps to prepare.
- If you are estranged, ask yourself if that is what is best for you. It may be! There’s no judgment of your actions here. Some people don’t deserve the pleasure of your presence. If that characterizes one or both of your parents, and you decide that it’s best for you to remain estranged, make peace with that decision so there is no doubt in your mind after your parent dies.
- If you feel it would be best for you to “clear the air” and articulate your disappointment while your parent is living, do so. Your parent may be able to share their perspective, which may make it easier for you to understand their failings or your parent may be defensive and combative. Either reaction may help you to find the closure you’re seeking.
I think “closure” is at the heart of grieving the ideal parent (that never existed). Making peace with the fact that your parent didn’t live up to your expectations but he/she was in your life for a reason—even though that reason might have been excruciatingly painful.
Healing Through Spirit Communication
Sometimes a sitter’s goal is to receive an apology from their parent for their bad behavior. Sometimes a Spirit will comply, but sometimes Spirit maintains their “human perspective” and is defensive instead of apologetic. So although sometimes communicating through a medium with your estranged parent may be incredibly cathartic, it doesn’t always provide you with the solace you are seeking. However, it may provide you with the closure you are seeking, if you are open to any outcome.