My greatest frustration in becoming a professional writer has been the quite limited perspective of magazine editors. Even those magazines that say they are trying to reach the midlife crowd, and offer them useful articles about their lives, tend to reject any stories that tell the unadulterated truth about the difficulties of midlife. Case in point, the psychological process of coping with the death of a parent.
This is a reality most adults in America will deal with in midlife or later. It is the most common cause of bereavement faced by adults in Western society. Each year about 5 percent of the U.S. population is faced with this experience. By age fifty, 50% of adults have lost both parents. For the baby boomer generation, losing a parent has become the new midlife crisis.
And yet, I have pitched this story to a number of national magazines, offering them interviews with well-known leaders in this area like Debra Umberson author of “Death of a Parent: Transition to a New Identity” and absolutely no one is interested. I’m assuming, since I’ve heard no real feedback from editors, that they find this story too depressing to bring it out in public. That’s all fine and good, but we still have to experience it, live through it, and perhaps learn lots about ourselves in the process.
Dr. Umberson’s studies show that:
“The death of a parent is a turning point in the emotional, personal, and social lives of most adults – an event that initiates a period of substantial change and redirection in the way we view ourselves, our relationships to others, and our place in the world.”
Before we have experienced the death of a parent, we may expect this to be a minor milestone in our adult development. However, recent research has demonstrated the loss of a parent has profound and wide-ranging consequences for most of us. It imposes an unexpected crisis for most healthy, well-functioning adults, which can result in high levels of psychological distress, increased risk for depression, impaired physical health and increased drug and alcohol consumption.
I have experienced the deaths of several of my friends’ parents in the past few years. This seems to be an issue which is front and center for those of us in our 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Why the major magazine editors don’t think it is a useful and interesting subject to explore confounds me. How about you?
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