health

"I thought losing my parents was the worst possible pain. Then came the 'secondary grief'".

I could write a book about the grief we experienced when our parents passed away within 18 months of each other. I was two months shy of my 14th birthday and suddenly, I was an orphan. 

What an awful word that is.

But this story isn’t about our parents' deaths, or the misery my sister and I endured (and still do more than 30 years later.

Nor is it about the unique relationship we forged as orphaned sisters.

This is about secondary grief. The grief that comes when your family and circle of friends disappear like a puff of smoke a few months down the track.

Watch: Robin Bailey on losing her dad at a young age. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

As if dealing with the loss of our parents wasn’t enough.

I remember at my mum’s funeral, lifelong friends of my parents and certain family members stating how we will always be in their lives, and they will look after us like their own. 

Within six months we never heard from them again.

I’m not saying they weren’t grieving as well and possibly having to face up to their own mortality and what that could mean for their families.

But seriously?

Making all these promises and leaving two young teenage girls to flounder in their grief and try to find their way through life without parents? 

Now as an adult who has surpassed the age that both of my parents ever turned, I have two young girls of my own. I have friends with kids, and I can’t for the life of me imagine how these people seemed to forget we existed. Maybe it was easier for them.

Melissa and her family. Image: Supplied. 

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I can’t stop thinking about the selfishness of this though. I can’t seem to let it go. Maybe they were worried we would ask for money? Maybe they thought it was contagious and we would pass our parent dying germs onto their families? 

Maybe they were just a**holes? 

Who knows?

I have this recurring dream where they are all in the room with me and I ask them these questions; I don’t seem to get any answers though. 

These are people that held my sister and I when we were born, we were best friends with their kids, and we spent every weekend together.

And then nothing.

So whilst the trauma of my parents dying will always be with me every single moment of every day, this trauma somehow seems worse.

My parents had no choice in dying. These people made a conscious choice to forget.

And to me that is unforgivable.

Feature image: Getty and Mamamia.

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