When Mom first died, part of my initiation into the DPC (Dead Parents Club) was to have lots of conversations with people who had also lost their parents. It’s not so much that it was required of me, as it just kept happening over and over again.
Once you join the DPC, people come out of nowhere to reveal that they lost a parent, or in some cases both, so you commiserate over how fucking hideous it is. The problem though, is that most of them have been in the DPC for years and have become adjusted to the new being inside of them that is their grief. So, they sometimes forget what it was like when it first happened.
Here’s how most of those conversations went:
Them: Susan, I heard about your mom. I’m so sorry.
Me: Thanks. It sucks balls.
Them: I know. I lost my [parent] too. How are you holding up?
Me: Well, you lost your [parent]. You know. I’m more profoundly sad than I could ever have imagined was possible. I don’t have kids but I feel that the inconceivable love people feel when their child is born is in direct proportion to the paralyzing pain you feel when your parent dies. I never knew I could hurt this much.
Them: (Usually handing me a tissue and shrugging.) Yeah. That’s never going to go away.
Almost two years in, I can tell you that it doesn’t, but what the bastards failed to mention is that it does get better. Or, maybe not so much better as different and more tolerable.
I really don’t know what people are thinking when they say that cruel shit. Perhaps when their parent died no one warned them about the everlasting sorrow and they’re trying to give others the leg up. All I know is that the last thing you want to hear when you’re in the initial throes of overwhelming despair is that it’s never going to end.
Luckily, I do have a few friends who have given me the “real talk” version of life in the DPC, so I know that as I approach year two, I’m moving into the reality phase of my mourning. Year one you are so focused on making it through year one that you hardly realize it’s passed until it’s over. As year two begins, you start adjusting to life without your parent in a real way.
The heavy, soul crushing, knee buckling pain has subsided and you only cry that way when you see a pen cap, or a discarded Macy’s bag, or some other previously innocuous item that all of a sudden triggers a memory of your 9th Christmas or the time your Mom stayed up all night addressing your classmates’ Valentine’s Day cards.
They tell me that the second anniversary is the toughest. That’s when you move from grieving the loss into accepting the reality and the finality of your parent’s death. When you truly understand that the relationship you had with your mom is all the relationship you’re ever going to get with her. So, I have that to look forward to this December.
But, they also tell me that after that, after you honestly comprehend at your core soul level that your mom is never coming back, in year three things start to get easier, which is what I have to look forward to this January.
And that is what I, as an official DPC Affiliate, intend to tell all new members.