The Grief of the Orphan

When I lost my Dad 7 years ago,  it was devastating and I was grief-stricken but there was a comfort in knowing I still had my Mom.  She helped me plan the funeral, she was there to share memories with,  we talk about Dad a lot and we share the loss in our lives that his death has brought.

It’s going to be very different when I lose my Mom.  One of my greatest fears is that I will be left alone in the world.  An orphan.   Who will help me plan Mom’s funeral?  Greater still,  who will I be without a parent in my life?

Parents are the constant in our lives.  They have been there since our beginning.  They hold all our history.  They knew when we took our first steps,  said our first words,  they were there when we entered school,  went to our sports practices,  manouvered on egg shells as we went through our teens.  They are our sense of permanence,  like a rock to stand on and look out from to the big world beyond.  When Mom goes,  that rock dissolves into sand that shifts with the tide as it flows in and out of our lives.  Nothing will seem permanent or solid.

I will no longer be someone’s child.  That identity is gone forever as the tide takes it out to sea and beyond and in it’s place it washes in the fact that I am now the adult and the next in line to die. I don’t want to be an adult.  I have never felt like an adult – only acted as one.  This may be part of my autism or my mental health issues but I have never felt grown up, forever a child.  When Mom dies, this feeling will clash violently with my no longer being someone’s child.  How do I make sense of this?  I’ve always felt the need to be protected,  cared for, and “managed”.  How do I suddenly make sense that I no longer have a mother or father to do that for me?  Having autism is extremely difficult, and downright overwhelming.  Who will see that I am alright?  Who will care for me?  Who will see that I am managing alright?  Yes, I have friends but it is somehow not the same as that person who brought you into the world and has been with you since day one and knows all about you.  I know that in the days of late,  the roles have pretty much been reversed in Mom and my relationship.  Not in our mother -daughter essence but the day to day managerial roles.  I look after her meals, her laundry, her pills but it is still not the same as that deep, primal connection that makes up our mother-daughter relationship.  And yes, it can be volitile at times and rocky but the solid rock under us is still there strong and secure.  I am going to lose all that.  I fear this more than almost anything in my life at this time.  It is a fear that sends me into a very dark place and a very alone place.  This profound change in identity is both disorienting and very confusing to someone who is at best confused about who they are.  I will be nobody’s child.  Nobody’s.

So yes, that leaves me an orphan.  An adult orphan.  Like a tree where the roots have died.  Will I topple and crash to the ground?  Will I flounder through life after Mom is gone?  Who will I be?  What will I do?  How will I survive life as an orphan?  Will I truly be alone?  There is no one who can take the place of my mother.  I have friends who can be friends and confidants but not my mother.  They won’t tell me when my slip is showing or when I have food down my front.  They won’t remind me to wear clean underwear everyday and take my umbrella with me –  it looks like rain.  They won’t hand me a 20 dollar bill and tell me  to take a taxi home – it ‘s going to be dark when I am done where I am.  They won’t remind me of the time I drove them crazy with my incessant counting to 100 or when I wandered off to follow a big dog when I was 2.  They won’t be there to hear me talk about my two cats all day long and never complain that I am talking about them too much.  Only my Mom can do all this and so much more I could fill many books.

That’s not altogether true.  There is someone who can be all this to me and so much more.  And that is Jesus Christ.  Jesus loved orphans and there are many verses in the bible about his love and care for orphans.  He even said He would NOT leave us as orphans but he would be with us.  He loves me even more than my mom or dad ever did.  He loves me with an everlasting love as if I were the only person on the earth.  He says he will never leave me nor forsake me. He promises to set my foot upon a rock that will never perish – that rock is himself.  I can trust Him to look after me when Mom is gone.  It won’t be the same as having Mom but it will be so good.  There will be much grief and pain and deep deep darkness but he said to follow him into the darkness and he will light the way.  He is the true light of the world, and the personal light for each step I take.  He will bring me out the other side of the darkness into a new place and my identity will be in Him and I may be an orphan by worldly standards but I will be a beloved orphan, treasured and protected.  And just as wonderful,  I don’t have to give up my being a child because I am God’s child forever.  No death will separate me from being a child of the King.  WOW!  That’s pretty reassuring.  I know there will be times of doubt when I will forget these truths but then my friends will step in to remind me and be there for me to encourage me to believe once again.

It’s gonna be OK.  Not sure I believe it fully right now but if I look deep in my heart and in the heart of God I know it’s gonna be OK.  A little rocky but I like climbing on rocks, a little lonely but like I said before I have 2 wonderful cats – oh, don’t get me started!  If’s gonna be OK.

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