Specific Situations > Extreme Caregiving

Fear of dying

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It's a scary thought to know you are the only parent your kids have left. Initially I felt a huge fear I would die and they would be alone. It has subsided as time goes by.

I always had a feeling I would die first and young. My dad died at 47 of a heart attack. I wasn't sure I would make it past 47.  I was 47 when I became widowed. My husband was 49. Then I thought I wouldn't make it past 49. Crazy thoughts I know.

Now at 51, I feel less fear. It's still there in the background but not as strong as it used to be.

I didn't fear dying myself so much as the kids did. I took up some hobbies after I was widowed that were a bit more risky than normal. The kids would bitch and I blew them off. When I left the house, they would tell me "Don't die." It was their normal goodbye. Coming home from a skydiving outing, my youngest yelled at me to stop it and "I don't want to be an orphan!"

Ouch. I gave all that stuff up.

Still, I carried an ICE card in my wallet that explained the kids were alone with no family close along with their school info. I listed next of kin as one of the neighborhood moms whom I was good friends with.

For me, the worst thing would have been for me to be hurt/dead and the kids sitting alone at home with Dad not showing up to make supper.  :'(



My kids too were more afraid of my dying. I don't feel afraid of death itself, per se, but I do feel an obligation that I need to stay here for them, and I can't put them through losing their surviving parent early as well.  Some of my kids also would say "don't die" if I had to take a trip. They don't say it much at all now, but I know it remains in the back of their minds still.

Since I'm the last parent standing, I try to keep my legal affairs in order, so my kids won't be left with a mess if I'm unable to stay.  It's one of the few things in my life that can be managed fairly simply, actually. For example, since I've prematurely worn out my knees, I have knee replacements coming up in the form of 2 separate surgeries. I'm meeting with an attorney to look over and update my will as necessary, and also leaving funeral instructions in the off chance something should go wrong. I get some peace of mind from it, as one last thing I can do for my kids, even if it may sound morbid to someone else. And it might, especially those still in 2-parent homes.


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