Grieving the Death of a Parent, Part Two

This week on the Allender Center Podcast, Dr. Dan Allender and his wife, Becky Allender, continue our series about grieving the death of a parent—a conversation sparked by their own experience of processing the death of Dan’s mother just a few weeks ago. In this episode, they discuss the love, care, and support they have received from others in times of grief, inviting us to consider how we might be present when friends or loved ones endure significant loss.

“Death is an abomination, and yet it’s also the context of such holy moments.”

Dan: “This grief is not just something to suffer, it’s a gift of becoming more of who we were meant to be through that person’s life.”

Many people fear saying the wrong thing or causing further harm, but Dan argues that our presence in the lives of grieving others can be a precious, holy gift. Becky recalls the honor of being able to share stories and memories with others as she grieved the death of her parents, even when it felt extravagant.

Dan: “Our culture truncates grief. […] But so often the grief that’s the deepest is the grief that lasts for months or years, and you need—you need—the ability to talk about the person that you’ve lost. […] To be able to have someone listen is just a huge gift.”

Becky: “There are so many different ways that people can enter into how you come to peace with a parent’s passing.”

Dan: “Maybe the most central thing to be said is don’t back off. The person who is bereaved more than likely wants to talk and wants to tell stories. And if you have stories, it’s so—there’s almost this desperate desire to hear more stories about my mom. […] I’ve felt like a dry sponge waiting to have somebody fill up a little bit more of what it was like to be with her.”

Becky and Dan also reflect on how easy it might be to offer someone space for grief in the first few weeks after a loss. But much of the deep work of grief comes months, even years later. What a gift, then, to have friends who are able to check in with us when others seem to have forgotten—particularly friends who know something of the complexities of our hearts, the unique dynamics of our families, and our ongoing journey with grief.

Dan: “I want to enter into grief, but with no shame, and to enter desire of what I would still want from a mother, what I would still want to be as a son, but to live with no regret. So to not give in to shame and regret, but to offer my own heart grief and desire—that’s the path that I want for myself and for others.”