Postscript to loss

After posting the blog about my (our) mother’s passing in May, I’ve been moved by the stories people have shared with me about losing their own parents. General consensus of readers: Leaders should talk about their own transformational experiences, even personal ones, when their stories have universal applicability. Losing a parent is a universal, transformational experience. Sooner or later, most people experience it. It changes us.

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

Featured Posts

  1. Jonathan Ohlsson-Shepherd

    Thank you for having the bravery to share about your loss. Personally, the timing could not have been better. One of my good friend’s mother passed away on Sunday after a long illness. While it was not my mother, it hit very close to home.

    As you noted, the struggle we all go through after someone we care for deeply passes away is an extremely difficult part of life. Reading your thoughts has helped sooth our grief. Even with so many people around it can be a very lonely experience and your words helped to know others can empathize. Thank you again.

    All the best,
    J. Shepherd

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked*.

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>