Suzanne T. Storar has written professionally for clients in the business and technical worlds, and she has published articles in her own name in trade and consumer magazines as well as in San Francisco Bay Area newspapers including the Oakland Tribune.
A few years ago, Suzanne took a week off to see her father through heart surgery and back into his own home for recovery. But there were complications. One week turned into three, then one return trip into another until, less than two months after surgery, her father died in the hospital. Suzanne, whose mother had passed away 15 years earlier, found herself parentless in her early 40s.
Somewhere between meeting with the estate attorney, sorting through bank statements, negotiating with a contractor to get her father’s house ready for sale, and tossing out stacks of outdated magazines, Suzanne felt like she’d entered an apprenticeship for a role she would, by definition, never serve in again.
In the years that followed, she made a point to offer support and information when others lost their parents so her own lessons would go to good use. She also found that emotions related to her parents’ deaths didn’t disappear or follow a tidy list of stages. Rather, they remained with her – sometimes sharp and surprising, other times evolving into an acceptance of who her parents were and who she was in their absence.
It was only when she started writing about her experiences that she noticed how few resources cover everything that comes up when parents die: heath care directives AND final hours; funerals AND houses full of stuff, the initial grief AND the long term feelings. And yet, most people will outlive their parents.
But would everyone need all this information? When friends observed that Suzanne had to do all the work with her parents’ estate because she was an only child, she responded that every family has one person who winds up with its challenging projects; she just always knew who it would be in her case.
So, she dedicated her blog, The Responsible One, to the person in every family who takes on, by consent or default, all those tasks that come without blueprints, instruction books, and (more often than not) assistance. And to her discovery that losing your parents may not, ultimately, be unexpected, but it won’t be like any other experience in your life.