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Avatar universal

Fear of Parents Dying

  Hi all. Recently one of my Mom's friends died and never before has the dread of losing someone close reached such a feverish pitch. I never used to think this way. Uncles died over the years , as well as my Grandfather , but the fact that this hit close to home had really affected me. My parents are getting older , and I'm sure many people go through this process. It's hard to watch. They are still in pretty good health (they're in their mid 70's and have had parents that lived a long time) but I excessively worry about losing them now. How will it affect me? How will I react? How will I carry on with my life? How will the remaining spouse handle the situation?
  I drive myself nuts. I discussed it with them and they just say that it's part of life , and to worry about things of this nature prevents you from living your life. Good advice , but not always easy to follow and put into motion.
  I've found that when something strikes me hard , I tend to dwell on the topic for weeks and possibly months until I calm down (might take some zanax). I just hate the whole unpredictability of losing them (or anyone for that matter). Again , they say that one has no control over these things. You just try and keep as healthy as possible and the rest is up to fate (or whatever).
  The worst times are in the morning. I've been getting awake early lately (before the alarm) and then I 'll just lay there and my brain will fire up with all of these anxieties that I have been talking about.
  Does anyone else feel like this (or have you )?  
38 Responses
366811 tn?1217422672
I'm going to make something up. Given your other post (about religion, disaster, etc) and given your obsession with your parent's exit and given your upbringing, I'm guessing that you see your parents as the one last link to a life -and an afterlife- of certainty, where things are ordered and good and predictable and safe.

But that's just my stupid theory.

Look, BV, you are a high-functioning person and your anxiety relates to pretty abstract material -very mental, very psychological. Translation: you're intelligent. So get yourself in front of a psychiatrist with enough mental muscle to interact with you so YOU can come to grips with everything. You've got a big enough noodle to do it -so go do it.

And then let me know, won't you, whether my theory had any merit. Now - GO!
165308 tn?1323186545
Your fears are exactly what mine were.  I was terrified of losing my parents.  They were my safe place, my unconditional love.  I would dwell on it constantly and had a therapist who I talked about it to all the time.  Well, it happened to me.  When I was 33 my dad passed suddenly and my mom died 4 months later.  I was totally devasted.  My world fell apart.  At the time I was still living home with them and my sister (who was 36 at the time).  I grieved long and hard about it.  But ya know what?  I survived.  I went on to get married (as did my sister) and I have adopted a daughter from China.  My life GOES ON.  I am not going to lie and say it was easy.  It was the hardest thing in my life.  There are times I still break down about it (I am 41 now) but I always remember what my dad used to say.  "Life is for the living" and believed in moving forward.  My advice to you is to live your life and enjoy every day with your parents.  Don't dwell on them being gone.  You will lose time that you can be enjoying with them instead of "awfulizing" about horrible "what ifs".  You cannot control what happens in life.  Just take it day by day and try to look at the positive of everything.  They are here today...that is GOOD, and don't worry about tomorrow.  Believe me, it will take care of itself.
Avatar universal
Hi people. I appreciate the responses thus far and did start talking (on the phone for now) with a counselor through my EAP program at work. She stated that my fears seem a bit irrational (that may be , but sometimes thoughts like this are hard to shake or keep at bay). She will be looking for appropriate people in my area for me to talk to. She also said that I could probably use a mild anti-depressant. Right now I'm on a little Zanax for my anxieties.
  Thanks again for your replies. Every little bit helps.
Avatar universal
i read both of your comments one on religion and now the fear for your parents you have told about all of the knowledge you have acuired through the books i know that makes you a highly educated person but all of the knowledge in the world cant help someone if they dont have plain ole common hore sense  to know how to use the knowledgei am not insulting you i am glad that you could do all of this but i guess what i want to know has it made you happy i have lost a daughter mom dad it is hard but one cannot dwell on it costantly or you will get sick are you married/> maybe afraid of beong alone you sound like a very lonley person i hope that you are not ..do you work do you have anything to occupy your mind like maybe trying to help others some cant read write are illeterate you have the knowlwdge to really help others donate some time and please dont borrow trouble as my mom used to say it comes soon enough i do hope that you can try to focus on today and not dwell on lots f things in books  i think if i reall took everything i read seriously i could not think straight just use the ole bean and be happy    lots of luck   jo
299889 tn?1257339377
Just a comment, you obviously suffer from anxiety.  Do you take a mood stabilizer?  Xanax and others pass thru your system rather quickly I have been told.  You seem to be getting a lot of highs and lows.  Talking to a counselor should prove to be a good avenue as he or she has had experience with people just like you nd can offer some powerful solutions.
Avatar universal
Try again,


I hope you're parents are still well!

I am in my mid 40s....am lucky enough to have my parents still, though it is clear that they are getting frail.

I am not married, live alone and so can sympathise with your fears.  

When I've finished work (shift) they are always the people I call to see what happening.  My Dad  deals with technical stuff (he is bright) and my Mum listens to day to day niggles, of which there are an increasing number.

So, your note  sounds very familiar.

Avatar universal
I have an irrational fear of my parents dying that acts up sometimes.  I noticed it most recently earlier this year when my grandpa died.  For a while after, I had an absurd fear that my parents were going to die, beyond what I think is normal.  I would be preoccupied by thoughts of them dying.  For example, I went to see a play and the entire time I was worried that my parents were dead.  I almost cried, and had to text and call to make sure they were both okay.  This faded after maybe a month or so, but now the fear is back (though not as severe).  I have been anxious lately as I am heading off to college in two weeks, and worry about something happening to my family while I'm gone.  I try to talk about it with people, but they just tell me "everyone worries" or "they'll be fine".  I know that everyone worries, but not like I do.  Also, thinking that they'll be okay doesn't really help because really, no one knows that.  Then I start thinking about ridiculous accidents and such, and I just get overwhelmed.  I know it's irrational and that really, there's nothing I can do.  I know that, no matter what I do, when that time finally comes (which I know it will), I will still feel like I haven't had enough time with my parents.  I guess I just wish I didn't have these thoughts so often.  I frequently have issues obsessing over things I can't change, and I don't know how to make the thoughts go away.
Avatar universal
I have the same fear. My wife and I live with them in the same house.I am obsessed with the thought of losing my parents. A year ago my uncle passed away and I still can't believe that he doesn't exist. I am 33, married and my father is going to be 61 this April of 2010. My mother is 59. My wife has her parents in India and she says my fear is craziness. She cannot see them, but she is still calm and not anxious like me. What can I do ? We are expecting a baby. I don't want to think about losing my parents all the time. Feel hopeless sometimes.
Avatar universal
I have always had a fear of something happening to my mom. My dad was sick from the time I was 11 yrs old i lost him 9yrs ago . I thought after losing him my obsession with losing my mom would get better but it only got worse. Recently my brother was in intensive care and we almost lost him. After that ordeal my mom seemed distant at first i thought it was just the trauma of my brother but whe i pushed the situation she told me she found a lump in her breast the day before christmas. we still don't know yet if its cancer but I am scared to death. I like you have a close family in my 30's still live at home. Your words gave me comfort TY  Gina
Avatar universal
I am 44 my mom has been Ill for the past 12 years with Chrones and she is the reason I moved back home. I was living in California had a good job, but I could not focus because I was having dreams or visions of my dad dying. My father has been sick off and on over the past few years but was allways ok. He fell saturday and broke his hip and now has to go into a Rehab place. My mother is very scarred and I am feeling just anxious and upset.. It seems I did make the right dicission to move back home because I have been able to spend alot of time with them. I just need to loose this feeling of my parents dying...I am just scarred my mom is going to get sick agian and they will both be in the hospital.. My dad is 76 and my mom is 71... I really thought this stuff would be happening in there 80s...Does anyone have any suggestions in what to do...
Avatar universal

I'm Mike I'm only 22 and I'm getting sleepless night over the dreadful thought of my dad passing away. He's in his mid-60's and I find myself tearing up every couple of nights over the thought of this. I think someone said it before in the comments about losing a safety blanket. But it's really the thought of losing someone who has been there your whole life and watch you grow into a man/woman from those days when you once grazed your knee and they got a band aid to the days when you grow older and have those serious talks. I sometimes think to myself if it were possible I'd give up my life if it would give my parents another chance. I love my family unconditionally they mean to world to me and I know life goes but if I feel like this now then I know I will break down.

How are you suppose to deal with something like this because I'm finding it hard to think about anything else?  
Avatar universal
Soundswitch, your message is very touching and I have the same wish (that I could give part of my life to my parents so they could live longer).  The anxiety I feel is overwhelming at times, and I wish I could understand why the Lord would have planned life with so much pain.  At other times though, I am at peace knowing I will see them again when I die.  I hope you can build that kind of faith and I urge you to get involved with a church and talk about these things with people you can trust.  Having friends to lean on in those rough times helps more than you realize.  Peace and long life to you and yours my friend.
Avatar universal
i am going through the same exact thing, it has became so bad that i worry about letting my mom go into a grocery store by herself (the fear of her getting shot, when i could have been there to take the bullet). I check on her every 5 seconds when shes sick and in bed.. every time a life ensurance envelope comes in the mail i feel like breaking down.. I know that shes eventually going to die.. but i cant even think of that,, Its like i stay up all night waiting for her to die, when in reality.. im killing myself.. it all started when my father threatened my mother with a gun, and i wasn't home,,due to that i would never go to any of my friends houses i would stay at home.. i avoid trying to spend TOO much time with her, because i think that if i do that i would REALLY miss her when she dies. but i make sure to take 10000000's of pictures of her and recording her voice (kinda like i am obsessed with my mother) i tell her that i love her every time i see her. and im sure that when she gets sick that im right by her side.. I went to counseling for this.. but it doesn't help.. i open up to her.. but then i start to worry her about her well being.. so i just sit alone worrying about this topic.. Does that medication you take really work? because i really need help
Avatar universal
Thats why having a relationship with god is so important!  If you develop one, you will still have that "safe place" to go to, as you did with your parents.  I know it may sound corny.  Realizing this is much easier when you really have nothing left.  Or nowhere to go.  Or mom or dad to cry to and hug.  I have a relationship with god, but dont it give as much attention as I should.  Im sure I will when my mom and grandma passes.  Thats just how humans work.  I have this same problem-  I constantly think about my mom dying because shes overweight, smokes and works 60 hours a week.  I can't imagine what I would do.   I suffer from serious depression and thinking about it makes me much more depressed and anxious.  I have failed to become independent at 26, im always depressed, and my mom loves me way too much and helps me with everything in life.  When she goes I feel i will lose it.  I need to get my **** together and start my own family so im not alone in this world when that time comes.  But I can't seem to get it together!  I need help too.  I feel like I should also have a better relationship with her, and that things arn't right, and that she will die without us having had a awesome relationship.   Just writing about it right now is making me anxious.  The other thing is that when im out of town (which is often because I rock climb) I feel like my grandma is going to call me at any moment saying that my mom died.  It gets really intense when im  on a trip out of town.  Every morning, and every evening I have to call her to say I love you. (more so to make sure shes alive)  This makes going on climbing trips, and just living daily pretty unenjoyable.
Avatar universal
I'm 14 now and something just flicked me a couple of nights ago which made me think about my mum and dad dying especially my mum because she is 51 now and she is getting old. These last two nights i have cried my self to sleep and last night was the worst i couldnt sleep and i had to get my mum into my bedroom because i just wouldnt go to sleep, my dad said to me "is there something wrong with your head"   but i dont know what to do because i feel like i cant talk to anyone because i feel stupid about being scared of dying.   can someone tell me what to do that will take my mind of it because it scares me and im only 14 and its effecting my school work because sometimes all i want to do is cry in my lessons and when someone ask me whats wrong i cant tell them.
Avatar universal
I know it might feel like the fear of loved ones dying is a silly one, or something to be made fun of- it is not. I really recommend going to talk to someone- whether it is a school counselor or a therapist. That's what helped me though the dark times in my life.
But other than that, make sure you are getting out of your house. Talk to other people and try and join activities that match your interest. You need to meet people. <3 While it might feel like your parents are getting old, 52 is still the middle of their lives, or even more- you never know the future. If it's still bothering you, try interacting with your parents in a different way. Exercise with them, go on walks, make dinner with them. Resist the urge to sleep in the same room as them. Try distracting yourself when you fall asleep by reading books or watching tv- soemthing that comforts you. You are not alone, and you are loved by many- not just your parents. Expand your self-network and realize that you are your own person- even if you are supported by your wonderful parents.
Stay positive- and get some sleep! Sleeping will really help!
Avatar universal
It's worse after you lose a parent. It used to be that I would turn the lights off in my office and contemplate the death of my father as a means of preparation. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease when I was 13 and struggled with it for about 11 years. He really went down hill in the last two years of his life; he died at age 74. (That's right, he was grandfather age but was my father). After having moved back home with my mother I can't stop thinking about her death when she isn't in my presence. The only time I feel safe is when I can see or hear her. Every phone call, every unusual email - every morning before I open my bedroom door, I expect to find her dead. I have to prep myself before I exit my roo, expecting to see her cold and pale in her bed. It sometimes helps to imagine that your solitude at any particular moment is all you have, and suddenly the old adage comes true: the moment is all we have. The past becomes irrelevant. The present does not include anything but me. Somehow, that is comforting. But it doesn't last.
Avatar universal
hello,this is Geoffrey and I also live with the same fear. I came to the US from India when I was 16. Now I am 35 and I live with my parents, wife and daughter. I work as a teaching assistant. I get very depressed and anxious thinking about losing my parents sometimes. My daughter's almost two years old. My dad and mom work and we three pay the bills like mortgage, etc. My dad's 63 and my mom's 61. I am very attached to both of them, and also my wife and daughter. My wife is studying to be a nurse. Two years ago I went through a severe depressive episode thinking that my parents are going to die oneday. I woke up in the middle of the night often and was terribly anxious while driving to work. I don't earn enough money and am worried that I am going to struggle financially after my parents retire. I love them very much, especially my mother. I didn't finish college and regret it. I suffered from depression during my late teens and this continued throughout my twenties. My last depressive episode was when I visited India last year and when returning to the US I felt bad about not being able to see my father-in-law who was really nice to me. He used to make me tea and coffee and I used to enjoy it with cigarettes. I wish I had the money to go visit India with my family every year because I have two months off during the summer. I am not stressed at my workplace and I like my job. My greatest fear that one day I will come back from work and my parents won't be there. There will be this EMPTINESS that no one can fill. My mother is the backbone of my life. I derive all my strength and courage from her. She is very religious and tells me that GOD will take care of you when she and dad are no longer there. My mom is the reason that I have a job, and everything else that I have is because of her. I love my wife and daughter but I fear that I am going to break down if my parents are no longer around and I wouldn't be able to function. I am also not a social person which makes my situation worse. I don't have a brother and sister and I am the only child. The only solution that I see is reaching out to a community or group of people who are in a similar situation and praying and trusting in GOD and wishing my parents live long.I also pray that you find peace and comfort.
Avatar universal
I feel the same way I just feel like my mom is gonna die even though she is healthy, it often keeps me up at night, ive even had a nightmare about her dieing. I'm 15 and I love my mom so much, and dont know what I would do if she died. I hope this doesn't mean anything
Hi, im experiencing the same thing right now but i just want to know if the feeling goes away eventually ?
Avatar universal
I appreciate others' comments here. I already lost one parent and I am just hoping and praying that the other will live to see me married with children. I am trying. And it helps to read all of your notes.
Avatar universal
I love my parents. They mean world to me. I am living away from them since last ten years (education and now job). Thoughts of loosing my parents drives me nuts and I think of leaving behind everything to unite with thrm. But I have to support my family and if I go back there is no prospects of getting a job there. This dilema is tearing me apart. I know if I loose parents before returning, I will never forgive myself.
8896413 tn?1400484325
Hi David,

I can totally relate to it. I am in the same situation.
I am in my mid 40s, single, living with parents. No siblings.

II have been facing this fear for the past few weeks, and it was triggered by my maternal Uncle's death. Since my Dad and my Uncle are very old friends and is just one year apart by age, so we did not even disclose my Uncle's death to Dad.

I am desperately searching the web to find some good read. But I guess, only time will help me get over this fear.

I am very attached to both my parents and they are all I have. Hope you are doing good.


I get you meenakshi.
Avatar universal
Have read all the stories and sympathize with everyone.  I feel the same way, worried about my parents and them aging and passing away.  
Avatar universal
Please feel free to reach out to me.  I would greatly appreciate chatting with you.

Thank you.
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