Shifting Roles

When I wrote about endings, I was thinking of the next generation, the upcoming one, who are no longer children. About the end of a chapter in their lives, and mine. In focusing on that bittersweet fact, I neglected to realize that this also means that the other generations are also changing.

In the span of three weeks, my three “chosen families” have experienced significant loss. The first was the family I have mentioned before, the family that has adopted and been adopted by my family. Three of my “cousins” lost a beloved father last month. Just a few days later was my own dear father-in-law, and just last week, the mother of my closest friend, one whom I consider in every way to be my sister from different parents.

As one could imagine, we are all reeling from these losses. I know they say that death comes in threes, but never before have I experienced three losses in so close a personal way. Three weeks, three parents gone, a dozen children and their families in mourning. It is all, quite simply, overwhelming.

It is an unfortunate fact that the older we get, the more people we lose. Generations slowly slip away, and before we realize it, WE are the older generation. This is a sobering thought. I have noticed my advice being sought out more often, and being told that it is valued, but does that make me what would have been referred to in older times, “one of the elders,” someone who is “older and wiser?” Honestly, I am not sure I like that idea.

Responsibilities are shifting. Where once I went to older family members for comfort and advice, they are now also seeking it from me. I find this a bit disconcerting. I am happy to help, but this doesn’t seem to be the way things should be. I am not ready for that role – that is much too “grown up.”

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