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,"
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.Â
"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
"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.