Sometimes we begin grieving while care-giving our parent (s). You are caring for your parents but they are not the same parents you remember while growing up. They are physically and/or mentally frail. They may not even remember your name. How could this happen? Growing up you never thought they would forget the name they gave you.

It is difficult to realize that they are different people. You cannot count on them anymore to be logical, understanding or stable. Sometimes they can be downright irrational. You yearn for the times when you could have reasonable discussions with them or get their perspective on what is going on in your life.

I found that grieving is not limited to death. I lost my father to dementia. I grieved that I could not speak with him about sports, the stock market, or business and get his wise insights. When my mother was bedridden and in extreme pain due to non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I grieved that I would not be able to shop with her, or discuss her great-grandchildren with her or ask her advice. I missed the special moments of counsel, love and understanding that my parents gave me.

The stages of my grieving when caring for my parents were sadness, anger, and sometimes guilt-the same as after my parents died. My grieving intensified when I faced the fact that my parents were going to die. I admitted to myself their illnesses would be terminal. When I reached this revelation, I realized that it was time for me to come to grips with the situation.

These are the things I feel are helpful when grieving while you are caring for your aging parents:

Use the time left with your parents to have meaningful discussions

Be patient when interacting with your parents

Recognize it is your turn to give them love and understanding

Give yourself breaks in care giving

Find ways to work through your grief- support groups, discussion with family, reading and researching your parent illness

It is important for you to accept that you are grieving while care-giving and use the time you have left with your parent in a positive, loving way. The emotions you experience are the same as if they had died and are perfectly normal and understandable.

Author's Bio: 

Annette Gonzalez is a lifelong Floridian and was raised in West Tampa, a Latin neighborhood in Tampa. As a child, she was nurtured in this cultural environment and it influenced her desire to be a writer, speaker and storyteller.

Annette's professional background includes positions as a social worker, real estate salesperson, business owner, PBS education director, president of a chamber of commerce and director of business development at an educational association.

In September 2006, when Annette's struggled with coping with the loss of her mother, she needed to fill the emptiness in her heart and began documenting her feelings. Five months later, her father passed away. This is when she began to write and speak about her parents' deaths. What resulted was that Annette provided others who had lost their parents comfort and direction through her writing and speeches.

Annette believes that we need to treasure our parents while they are alive and honor them when they have passed.