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The Loss Of Parents

'I felt abandoned'



"I was always the caregiver. I always had to be there. Now I can go places, travel, move. I'm freer. There's no question about it," she says.


Indeed, in her research, Secunda has found that many of her 100 study participants reported positive consequences of parental loss. They became more self-reliant, reordered their priorities, and often changed careers. Of the 50 who changed careers, 69% said it was a direct result of their parents' death. A nun left her convent, entered graduate school, and embarked on a whole new career. Others said they were able -- without guilt -- to leave high-paying careers in law or medicine, for which their parents had paid educational expenses, and work for nonprofits.


"It's a final opportunity to grow, to think in the best possible sense, of what is in your true best interest," says Secunda.  "If you don't do it now, you never will."


Although his grief remains, Wood acknowledges that he has grown. He has realized that work is not all of life. He spends more time with his four siblings and his friends. He volunteers for numerous charitable causes.


"I know now that life is short, that the loss of parents tears the fabric of your soul," Wood says. "But I also know that there's new meaning in my life because of their deaths."


Rochelle Jones is a writer based in Bethesda, Md. She has covered health and medicine for The New York Daily News and The St. Petersburg Times.


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