Dating a peices
“I’d give up a year of my life for just half a day with my parents,” says Jonathan Herman, a 33-year-old health-care executive in New York.He lost both his parents to cancer before he was 13.
He tells of leading a “healing circle” discussion with eight campers, as they shared how their parents died—to suicide, a drug overdose, cancer.Donica Salley, a 50-year-old cosmetics sales director in Richmond, Va., understands well the ramifications of losing a parent.When she was 13, her 44-year-old father drowned while on vacation in the Bahamas. “My mom tried to fill the void and the hurt by buying me things.” Two years ago, Ms. “There’s something about being with people who’ve been through it.To that end, the Georgia-based Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation provides free vacations to families in which one parent is terminally ill.The organization was founded by Jon and Jill Albert, shortly before Jill’s 2006 death to cancer at age 45. “When Jill passed away, people who lost parents when they were young told me it would be a 30-year impact for the kids,” says Mr. His organization, with the help of corporate sponsors, has sent 300 families on vacations.The complete survey of more than 1,000 respondents, set for release later this month, was funded by the New York Life Foundation on behalf of Comfort Zone Camp, a nonprofit provider of childhood bereavement camps.
Among the findings: 73% believe their lives would be “much better” if their parents hadn’t died young; 66% said that after their loss “they felt they weren’t a kid anymore.” Childhood grief is “one of society’s most chronically painful yet most underestimated phenomena,” says Comfort Zone founder Lynne Hughes, who lost both her parents before she was 13.
Adults visit physicians, speak of depression, but are never asked if a childhood loss might be a factor.
New research suggests it’s time to pay closer attention.
Herman’s yearnings, saying they, too, would trade a year of their lives.
Their responses, part of a wide-ranging new survey, indicate that bereavement rooted in childhood often leaves emotional scars for decades, and that our society doesn’t fully understand the ramifications—or offer appropriate resources.
Some chafed at more-formal approaches; 33% said talking to therapists or school guidance counselors were the “least helpful” activities.