You down with DPC?

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.

What fun.

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.


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About Susan

Susan Kent is a small town Georgia girl living in Brooklyn, NY, and working on those deep rooted issues from her southern upbringing. She's a freelance writer and storyteller and co-host of Tell It: Brooklyn, a storytelling show for grownups. Susan frequently performs around NYC at shows like The Moth StorySLAM, Yum's the Word, and Mara Wilson's "What Are You Afraid Of?" Her stories have aired on a variety of podcasts and radio shows including, The Moth Radio Hour, Kevin Allison's Risk! podcast, Dingmantics, You Can't Make That Up and many others. If you want to get more intimate with Susan & her thoughts, feel free to follow her on Twitter @TheSusanKent. (Not to be confused with the Canadian actress of the same name, which happens more than you would believe.)

7 thoughts on “You down with DPC?

  1. Yes, it does suck balls… yes it does it get “different” and you learn to adjust to life without them… I had my 2 year “anniversary” in April and it did SUCK majorly… year 3, I will let you know how that goes, so far, I’ve had less total breakdown so far this year, I think b/c I have hit all the major life milestones without her these past two years that I can for a while. GROWING UP SUCKS!!!!

  2. As 5 year member of the DPC, I find your realism refreshing. Your description of how a pen cap triggers that kick in the tits flood of emotion is really spot on.

    I offer you a different perspective as you prepare for December. I believe my relationship with my mom didn’t end when her physical form did. Every time I celebrate her, speak to her, dream with her, recall a memory of her and draw on the strength she instilled in me, I believe that keeps our relationship going strong. And she feeds the tree as well in ways that I have to really pay attention to see but are there.

    Doesn’t get easy, but easier. God speed.

  3. F’leigh – I strongly suggest you talk to your parents now so you can tell them they have to live forever. It’s way easier that way.

    Lisa – It’s good to hear that the breakdowns decrease in year 3. I’ve had three today alone. Of course, that happens to me a lot less these days, so that’s good.

    Thanks loves!

  4. Felicia –

    Your “kick in the tits” flood of emotion is pretty spot on as well.

    Thanks for the sweet comments and encouragement. I am so with you on knowing she’s still with me.

    In fact, I know it so much so that I had to burn sage so that she’d stop making the dog crazy. No kidding.

    Off to read YOUR blog!

  5. UGH! Would love the live forever option……sadly the 82 year old status is ailing. I’m making an important phone call tomorrow, sticking my nose where it may not belong. Wish me luck!

  6. Love you! This was year 10 for me. It does get easier, but you never forget the day it happened. Miss you and hope you are doing well.

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