In most religions and cultures, there is a spoken or unspoken duty to honor your parents. Because most parents care about their children, it makes sense that as we grow, we would learn to care for them in return. When a mother or father passes away, it can feel like a piece of your self is gone. However, honoring your father and mother in their passing can help you grieve and move forward with hope. Let’s look at ways to honor your father and mother in their death. 

Religious Traditions

Most religious traditions consider the importance of showing honor to parents. According to The My Roots Foundation, religions with specific texts about showing honor to parents include:

  • Baha’i Faith
  • Buddhism
  • Christianity: Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, etc
  • Confucianism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Native American Zuni Prayer
  • Sikhism

Even if you do not adhere to any specific belief or religious tradition, you can see that every culture emphasizes the honoring of parents. Parents may be yours by birth, adoption, or even other relatives who raised you. Whoever puts the time, energy, and effort into helping you reach adulthood, those are your parents.

How to Show Honor in Sickness

It is a gift to have time to tell your parent goodbye before they pass on. A time of illness where you can work through any final issues before they leave this world can be a special time of reflection for you both. 

It is also the last chance you will have to get to know your family history. You can ask questions about your family history such as: 

  • “How was Uncle Walter or Aunt _______(you fill in the blank) related to us?” 
  • “Where did you grow up?” 
  • “What did your father do for a living?” 

These questions could go on so keep in mind this will be the last time you can ask it. If your parent is able to converse, it might be a good time to record their answers. It will give you a chance to hear their voice and realize fond memories of them in the future.

You can honor a parent by spending time caring for or sitting with someone on their deathbed. You show respect by investing time and energy into attending their last moments. 

On a deathbed, your parent knows that there is limited time to impart any final wisdom. A short while left to ask about or apologize for anything.  Days or even only hours left to share their love and care for you. 

You have this gift of time to share your love and gratitude to your parent for all they did for you. Also, if there is anything you’d like to discuss, ask, or communicate, apologize or show appreciation for, you know that this is the time to get it off your chest. 

Showing Honor to A Parent Who Dies Suddenly

When a parent dies suddenly, it can feel like there is unfinished business. In this case, you may honor your parent by writing them a letter letting them know how you feel, what you appreciated about them, and what you feel grateful for. 

You can include anything you regret and want to ask forgiveness for. Whether you believe they can hear you or not, writing a letter honors their life, even after death. 

Alternatively, you could go to their grave, urn, or other meaningful place and just talk with them about everything as if they are sitting beside you. 

Showing Honor to an Abusive Parent?

Showing respect to hostile abusive parents can sometimes feel like the most difficult thing you’ve ever done. Parents who act in anger toward their children often cause their kids to grow up angry. Kids may lash out at others and rebel against authority of any kind. Once an angry child reaches adulthood, it may take years for them to find a peaceful way, if it happens at all. 

Instead of becoming angry, other abused children marry abusive spouses or live in continuing abusive situations because it feels normal. 

Hurt people hurt people, and so they call it the cycle of abuse. As a child of abusive parents, seek out a counselor to help you find peace about the events of your past. Talking about what happened can help you move forward. 

No matter how you struggle as a child of abuse, the idea of honoring a father or mother is not top of mind. Honoring a parent in abuse cases may involve keeping your distance. You may help them not to hurt you anymore by staying away. Preventing the abuse cycle from continuing might be your best legacy and the most effective way to honor a parent. 

Often, an abusive parent was also abused growing up. By stopping the abusive cycle, you honor the abused child your parent once was. You also honor the child that your parents created – YOU. 

Attending a deathbed or sick time with an abusive parent may be crucial to your own journey or cause more difficulty. Your best road lies in seeking out trusted sources for answers. This can be by way of books, seminars, friends or counselors to help you determine the path. Staying away may honor this type of parent the most. Alternatively, you may need a trusted friend to attend a deathbed with you and keep you safe emotionally.

After Death

After your parent passes away, you can memorialize your time with them through creative efforts such as songs, books, art, dinners, etc. You may also honor them with a funeral or memorial service, a creative urn, jewelry made from ashes, and times together with family and friends. You may choose an elaborate gravestone, memorial urn, or a simple headstone. When it comes to remembering and memorializing your parent, your choices are endless. 

Visiting a Family Cemetery Plot

If you have a family cemetery plot, visit it. Place flowers on the graves during holidays such as Christmas and Easter to reconnect with your family. The visit to the cemetery plot can be both therapeutic and bittersweet. Knowing your parent is physically just a foot or 2 away from you is a sad reminder of their loss but also a walk down memory lane. You may even cry and laugh at the same time. Spend time to realize and honor their legacy which lives on in you.

We Can Help

At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we create memorial experiences for your deceased loved ones. We understand the importance of honoring lives that have passed on while appreciating the individual religious or cultural traditions of each life. We want to walk with you through the process involved in the death of a parent. From decisions about cremation or burial, flowers or charity, chapel or outdoor memorial, we help you find ways to celebrate your parent’s life and move forward into hope for the future.