When you say goodbye to a parent, that goodbye lasts forever. It’s only in the months after a parent’s death that you have a chance to reflect about death, the life, and the experience of taking on the responsibility for a parent’s final days.
During the years of his decline, I did not have a plan to write about my dad. I was too busy dealing with the difficulties of his diminishing health. After his death in October 2015, I was immersed in cleaning out his house, planning his celebration of life event, and recovering my health and energy from grief and exhaustion.
After the holidays of 2015, I felt unsettled. My father’s slow deterioration and his stubborn attitude had taken a toll. He wouldn’t allow in-home help, other than my sister, his girl friend, and me. I was drained. And I also felt incomplete.
How I Regained My Energy
Since my divorce in 1999, my pattern of dealing with challenges is to dive into them. I voraciously read, take courses and workshops, seek counseling, increase my self-care, and deeply contemplate the lessons of the difficulty. I dislike suffering, but I also realize that sometimes I heal more deeply and completely when I examine the pain instead of running from it.
In January of 2016, I found myself writing. In the months after my dad’s death, I had read many books on end-of-life issues. I alternated between researching and writing. Words poured out of me in currents. As I wrote, hours passed, and I would suddenly look up at the clock and realize that time had momentarily disappeared.
I thought about all the events of my dad’s life and death, and began to realize that perhaps sharing my story would help others. Looking back, I wished I had known more about dying before my dad’s final chapter. I was not well equipped for the decisions and the choices that present themselves.
Reflections on the Meaning of It All
Over many months of writing and re-writing my story with the help of a professional editor, I found there was a book waiting to come forth into the world. My hope is that it will assist other people who face the loss of a loved one. I titled it, A Chance to Say Goodbye: Reflections on Losing a Parent.
It is my intention to connect with those who anticipate the loss of someone they love. Or, possibly, readers will have already experienced a loss and are now looking for connection and closure. The book creates a place to look at our own mortality and encourages communication, planning and thoughtfulness to ease the experience for those left behind.
My experience had many unpleasant moments, but by sharing those times with my readers, my hope is that the book can serve as a guide and support. Knowledge can help you navigate the challenges.
Karen M. Wyatt MD, author of What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying, wrote the foreword to A Chance to Say Goodbye. She states, “This book can change our entire society for the better and allow everyone ‘a chance to say goodbye’ with those we love.”
I am grateful for Karen Wyatt’s contribution to the book.
I am also grateful for a Starred Review from BlueInk Review. “Part tribute, part memoir, part guide, A Chance to Say Goodbye succeeds on all counts, with lyrical writing and thorough research. The book is divided into sections devoted to her father’s life, reflections following his death, and resources for dealing with aging parents or preparing for one’s own death– resources she desperately needed but didn’t compile until after the fact.”
None of us knows when we will die. Let each day and encounter be filled with kindness and love.
Lisa J. Shultz moved from her hometown of Denver to Breckenridge, Colorado. She is the author of Ready or Not: Tips for the New Grad, which was winner in the Gift Books category of the 2014 The National Indie Excellence Book Awards and finalist in the category of Career Books for the 2014 Next Generation Indie Excellence Book Awards. She has also written several other books prior to A Chance To Say Goodbye. When she is not writing, Lisa can be found swimming, dancing, tending her garden, tidying her home, reading, traveling, or connecting with friends and family.
A Chance to Say Goodbye: Reflections on Losing a Parent is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.