I know that it is in the "normal" state of life that parents die before their children. Of course, children often do die before their parents. My brother died before either of my parents.
Growing up, we had a lot of turmoil in our home. That is not what I am here to write about though. One of the good things we grew up with was family. We had lots of cousins on both our mother's and our father's side, each of my parents coming from families with five children.
We knew and know all of our cousins. They are all still alive and with us. My brother is the only one from our generation, on either side, who is dead.
Our parents were the glue, I guess, that held the extended families together. As long as our parents were alive, we belonged with the cousins.
We have the two sets of cousins, as I see it. The ones on the west coast and the ones in Michigan.
Being geographically closer to each other has meant that they all knew each other and saw each other more that we did. We live(d) in Maryland and Virginia.
Time passes, we change. Our parents die. Significant birthdays and anniversaries come and go. We hear about them after the fact, unless we happen to be visiting at the time.
We belong in many places. With our friends. With our children. More so if they live near. But we feel like our family of origin, our extended family of origin at least, is slipping away.
By we, I mean my sister and I. We are closer than ever. We make our way into the lives of family members. Most recently we traveled to Norway where we had wonderful visits with family. Second cousins. We share an ancestry with them and we love them. But they didn't grow up knowing our parents, nor did we know theirs. Not in the same way as our own aunts and uncles. (And also recently we went to the funeral of a child of a cousin)
So, what is the answer? I don't know. I really feel that out of sight out of mind thing.