Among the most frequent advice I’ve gotten from those who’ve been there: It’s even harder than you think it will be, and it takes longer than one expects to get through it. You never fully get over it. And: It’s not just sad events that cause sadness; it’s also happy events we want to share with a parent who is no longer there. Also, it takes time.
As sad as it is to lose a parent, there have been wondrous moments when my sisters and I have heard people recount anecdotes that made us realize our mother was even more amazing, lovelier, more of a leader, a listener, groundbreaker, friend and volunteer than we even realized. We feel proud, sad and grateful—at the same time.
Too many work settings (for those fortunate enough to have a job) don’t give employees needed flexibility to deal with serious illnesses and the death and aftermath of family members/partners. Even if one could just get on with it (not many can), the aftermath of death is complex—emotional turmoil, lawyers, moves, bills and insurance. It’s messy and time-consuming; someone or some people have to do it. My own experience will make me more sensitive to what others encounter. I hope every part of our School will support our students, faculty and staff just as I have been supported.
Happy Monday—it is another day. Those of us in public health have a chance to make the world and its inhabitants healthier. Barbara