Orphaned Adult

Orphaned Adult

The Orphaned Adult

Levy, Alexander





Losing our parents when we ourselves are adults is in the natural order of things, a rite of passage into true adulthood. But whether we lose them suddenly or after a prolonged illness, and whether we were close to or estranged from them, this passage proves inevitably more difficult than we thought it would be. A much-needed and knowledgeable discussion of this adult phenomenon, The Orphaned Adult validates the wide array of disorienting emotions that can accompany the death of our parents by sharing both the author’s heart-felt experience of loss and the moving stories of countless adults who have shared their losses with him. From the recognition of our own mortality and sudden child-like sorrow to a sometimes-subtle change in identity or shift of roles in the surviving family, The Orphaned Adult guides readers through the storm of change this passage brings and anchors them with its compassionate and reassuring wisdom.


Library Journal

The death of one’s parents is “the ultimate equal-opportunity” experience; becoming an orphan as an adult happens to nearly everybody. Yet despite the flood of self-help books on death and the grieving process, very little (with the exception of Hope Edleman’s Motherless Daughters) has been written on parental loss. Incorporating his own personal experience with the accounts of others who have lost their parents, psychologist Levy examines this profound life-changing event with compassion and understanding. Since our parents “project an illusion of permanence,” writes Levy, their death forces us to confront our own mortality (we are next in line to die) and to adjust to our new identities as orphaned adults. Indeed, he argues that this stripping of our childish beliefs is the first step toward true adulthood: “Perhaps only after parents have died can people find out what they are going to be when they grow up.” This wise and caring book is recommended for all collections.AWilda Williams, “Library Journal”
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Rabbi Earl Grollmanm, D.H.L., D.D.

“I have never been more moved than by reading this extraordinarily personal, inspirational, and helpful book….Levy makes the old new and roots the new in the timeless. A gem to be treasured, a truly life-affirming accomplishment.” — Rabbi Earl Grollmanm, D.H.L., D.D., author of Living When a Loved One Has Died


This is a truly amazing book on the subject of parental loss. In the aftermath of my parents’ deaths, I have read nearly all of the “parental loss” books out there, and this is by far the best. Although I am unusually young (28) to have lost both parents, although mine passed in an unusual manner (together, in a car accident), and although my relationship with them was closer than many people’s (I am an only child who spoke to both of my parents every day) — all things which tend to distance my experience from those of others’, including the authors of most books on this subject — Levy’s book spoke to me tenderly, honestly, and universally.
Levy insightfully and compassionately explores not only the intensity of grief wrought by the loss of one’s parents, but also what such loss means in terms of an adult child’s identity, how it impacts one’s interactions with other loved ones and friends, and how it can impact one’s religious beliefs. He also discusses techniques for getting through grief, and even includes a section on ongoing relationships with parents following their death (whether it be through visitations or conscious rituals).
This is a heartfelt book that I will return to again and again. I can’t recommend it enough, really.

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Barnes & Noble

When my husband lost his mother (having lost his father 10 yrs ago), I had to find out why he was vascillating back and forth betweens such incredible high points and low points that caused him to lash out at others one minute and then be the life of the party the next. I felt so compelled to identify the emotions he must be feeling – something I was unfamiliar with since I am still blessed to have both of my parents still living. By reading this book, I gained indepth knowledge of the roller coaster ride my husband must be on….the extreme emotional tendencies….the sadness….the feeling of not having anyone in his life that was guaranteed to love him, no matter how much convincing I tried to do to tell him that I would guarantee him that I would love him forever. Because of this book, I am better able to understand…and help my husband during this time. I now know how to help him through this grief and through the intense sadness, all the while reassuring him that I am there and always will be. Thank you, Dr. Levy….you have been a Godsend in this girl’s life!!

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I cried my eyes out throughout the entire book bc I felt vindicated and finally understood. Anyone who hasn’t lost both parents can’t even begin to skim the surface of the pain, the emptiness, and the feeling of being completely alone one feels after such a loss. I especially related to an excerpt that read it was like being a child again in the grocery store and feeling the absolute terror of losing your mother and screaming and crying out for her. And after losing your parents, you suddenly realize you are the next generation to die if it goes in natural order. If you have experienced the loss of both your parents; this book will help you understand your emotions. It will remind you that anyone who has not suffered the loss of their parents do not have the right to tell you how you should feel or behave in your grief. My grief manifested itself in many complex and bewildering ways. I can feel somewhat normal now after reading this book.

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