When We No Longer Have Aging Parents–or a Spouse

“I’ve stepped to the front of the line.” Although R had been
widowed for years prior to her elderly mother’s death, she often
said that after her mother died. It wasn’t until later that it made
an impact and I understood the meaning. I sensed her feeling:
no longer was someone ahead of her to protect her.
Psychologically, did she still feel her 90+ year-old mother had
been  a protector? a buffer? a first line of defense? I wondered.

Indeed, she had us: her son and me, her daughter-in-law. We could and would share her responsibility and be there for her. That said, she cherished independence and was an intelligent, fully functioning, involved woman. Although grateful, she must have considered us back-up. Continue reading