Grieving the Death of a Parent, Part One

This week on the Allender Center Podcast, Dr. Dan Allender and his wife, Becky Allender, address the experience of grieving the death of a parent—a conversation sparked by their own experience of grief after Dan’s mother passed away on March 21.

Dan: “I have to practice saying that my mother is dead. […] I know it’s true, we have known that her health has been decreasing over a number of years, but there is a kind of unreality to losing a parent or any significant grief related to the death of someone you love.”

Becky: “It’s an entry into the unpredictability of grief, not knowing when it’s going to hit.”

Dan and Becky reflect on the particularity of his mother and their unique relationships with her, as well as the common experiences that are shared with others who are part of, as Dan puts it, “the dead parents club.” They also reflect on the beautiful but painful process of new questions arising after the death of a loved one, a new degree of intrigue and curiosity about their lives, and the heartbreak in never having asked those questions.

Dan: “Grief is very personal, very idiosyncratic. There may be patterns, there may be processes that have a commonality, but you will go through a grief that is yours uniquely. In many ways, you can’t actually prepare yourself for what you are going to encounter. It is a ride that takes you in direction that you never would have predicted.”

You will go through a grief that is yours uniquely.

Grief is unique and personal, but that does not mean we go through it alone. Dan and Becky recall the memories of friends and loved ones who surrounded them with words, gifts, and embraces after painful losses, inviting remembrances and listening to stories. Dan also reads a few of the messages they received from others while traveling to see his mom—words that invited him to grief, forgiveness, truth, and honor.

Dan: “One of the things I want to underline is how good it is to have people in your life who bear wisdom. […] They were, for a fragmenting heart that was just beginning to grapple with the reality that my mother was dying, that compass, clarity of what it is that I wanted to accomplish.”

Becky: “You had a compass of love from friends who were in the moment with us.”

Next week, Dan and Becky will continue this conversation by reflecting on what their own experiences with grief have taught them about being with others who are grieving.

Dan: “There’s a sense in which grief intensifies to the degree we enter the story, but somehow, even as we enter the story again and again and again, we’re brought to those moments in which we have seen the goodness of God in the land of the living.”