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What Parents Can Learn from the Untimely Death of Legend Whitney Houston


Because my life’s passion is centered on the fundamentals of the overall well-being of children I see everything through the perspective of a mother, grandmother and parenting coach.

This is especially true when I learn about tragedies like the untimely drug related deaths of people like pop star Michael Jackson, actress Brittany Murphy and the most recent, the singing legend Whitney Houston. When I hear of these sad tragic events my mind immediately goes to their parents and what they must be feeling.

As parents, any parent, how do we ever reconcile burying our children? It goes against the accepted normal cycle of life that says we choose a life partner, start a family, raise our children the best we can and then step aside as they hopefully live out their lives filled with joy and happiness until one day when we have reached the end of our days, our children will take over raising their children and so on…the cycle continues according to the Divine order of life.

I find it so difficult to understand how parents who must cope with the natural order being interrupted in their lives having to face losing their child find their strength. Their pain I can only imagine is insurmountable. Their experience is truly inconceivable.

My upbringing leads me to revert to the fact that as with everything in life there is a lesson. There is something we can all take away from every experience even when it is from a distance like a celebrity’s death.

Personally and professionally I know the most important single thing we can do is to encourage our children to discover and ultimately live out their passion. How many times do we read and hear experts saying this is the key to happiness? And yet these celebrated people who are blessed to find and be recognized for living their dreams too often are not fully satisfied. This is apparent by their choice to give their lives over to drugs.

And that makes me wonder again about their parents. Regardless of the age of their child I have never witnessed a parent reach a point when they stop feeling that their child is no longer their child simply because of their chronological age or status in the world.

Because of that I wonder some more…Do they wonder if there was something they could have done to prevent the course their children chose? Do they feel somehow responsible? Do they struggle with guilt regardless of the specifics? Can they ever accept that their child’s destructive choices were out of their hands?

When I hear about drug related deaths, celebrity or not, my first instinct is to think about what they were missing in life. What hole of pain were they trying to fill? What sadness was so great that it could not be healed?

The obvious would be lack of self-esteem. The second most likely a feeling of not feeling loved. And of course the big one being that they lacked faith in something bigger than themselves. Whether we are the parent or a distant fan we can never know the answers for sure in most situations.

The only thing I do know is that we, as parents, can take away from the devastating experiences of those parents who lose their adult children is that although born from our bodies, they truly do not belong to us. They are here on earth as their own person who will ultimately live their lives based on their own choices and decisions…positive or negative. We can do everything in our power to be the best parent we can be and the rest is up to them.

As we love and nurture, guide and encourage our children we must never let go of the reality that our children do not belong to us...we are meant to be an integral part of who they become by the way we raise them. We can only give what we have gotten. They will only receive what they choose to take in.

Through my own personal experience of having to let go of my own adult daughter because of her destructive choices that took her to a place just short of costing her her life I find myself frequently reciting “I gave her the best I had to give and the rest is between her and God.”  

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