family · God · My Thoughts

Parents’ Death: Tough Topic #1—Dread?

Parents and family - parents' death

For years, my parents’ death loomed in front of me as they aged. I dreaded losing them and wondered how I would cope. I had intricately woven my life into theirs, never living over four hours away.

It’s been almost ten years since losing Mom and twenty-six in losing Dad. The pain has subsided but never goes away. Here’s how I have coped.

In 2017, a few years after Mom’s death, I wrote a book, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, dealing with my grief over the loss of both parents, and how I handled each differently.

These excerpts from my book show the difference in how I handled their two deaths.

Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party. Parents' death
Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party.

Dad’s Death

“On January 6, 1996, my dad died. Losing my first parent left me reeling. This loss changed my life forever. At Dad’s death, I was eight years sober. I had feared his death for years because of our close relationship. How could I survive without him? I wondered.”

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter's Grief Memoir meme. Parents' death

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvi.

When my dad died, I didn’t write poetry to get clarity, to heal myself, or to see the events of my life as a part of my process. I wrote but not to deal with my loss.

I focused on Mom—that’s what I did, and I danced and worked.

We talked often about Dad, our loss, and our grief. I realized these conversations were important for both of us to heal. I learned that from her and relished her wisdom—I listened. Her tender care of herself demonstrated to me how to do this mysterious thing so many don’t understand how to do: grieve.

Time healed Mom. She managed her grief and lived seventeen years without Dad, in relative comfort and happiness.

I wanted that for myself when she passed.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): 11.
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad. Parents' death
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad.

Mom’s Death

On March 23, 2013, Mom died, but this time was different and so very difficult. Both my parents were now gone, and I felt alone, an “adult orphan.” My recovery and faith in my Higher Power helped me survive losing her, but my major relief came through writing—I wrote poetry and lots of it. When I wrote a poem, tears of relief flooded me—a major healing tool. I read them to my therapist, and she cried with me. One particular night, she asked me to publish them so her daughters could read them after she died.

It also helped that I was older and more aware of my personal means of handling life’s hard knocks. I had seventeen more years in recovery and had learned more about grief in watching Mom and how she handled the loss of her beloved husband of forty-three years.

Relief also came from new activities that unfolded in my search for healing and in many familiar activities I had done for years.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvii, xviii.

Resources In This Book

As I wrestled with what I wanted to share in this book, my teacher-side came out and I added appendices galore to help the struggling wounded hearts who read this book deal with their grief.

The appendices I included are:

  • Appendix A—It’s a God thing!
    • I listed the many God incidents that occurred during those three months from Mom getting sick and dying:
  • Appendix B—Activities I did
    • I listed the activities I did after Mom died. Notice I focused on grief, but mostly the activities were a part of my normal life.
  • Appendix C—Books and websites that were helpful to me
  • Appendix D—Workbook
    • Healing from grief requires active participation if you want to get past the pain and the loss to the other side—to thrive more than just survive. I listed a few questions and activities to get the juices flowing after reading this book.

Finally,

In a unique twist, I didn’t write when Dad died—I focused on Mom. I wrote poetry and prose when Mom died. After Mom’s death, the poetry came in torrential waves! With every outpouring, more and more of me healed.

We must face our parents’ death—it is inevitable, but how we handle it is our choice. Originally, the title for this book was “I Grew Up to Be the Woman I Always Wanted to Be,” but that didn’t go with the subject, so I changed it. I wrote a poem with that title and will leave you with it by downloading it. (Download here!)

Have you lost a parent? Both parents? If both, do you feel like an adult orphan? How did you handle the loss?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?
Read, reflect and respond!

~I heard yesterday that my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is a finalist in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Winners will be announced in a couple of weeks.

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo
Grab your SmatPhone & read this hilarious book!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A