I lost my mother when I was 24 years old, only a month shy of 25. My Family and I had time to prepare, 8 years to be exact, the doctors however told us that we would only get a month to a year, what I learnt as death rattled my mother’s cage and she got closer to slipping away is that, there is no amount of time that can prepare you for the loss you are about to endure. It was only 6 months after my mum had passed that my dad was diagnosed with cancer himself, originally the doctor’s had thought it was only him grieving, then they figured out he was actually in stage 2, my dad passed only 7 months later as he was in fact stage 4 +.
My Dad’s heart broke and he lost his life the day my mum passed yet he gave us strength for the next 13 months, when he was diagnosed my whole family sat back, it was surreal and we were blank, numb still from the the pain of our mum. It was an “oh fuck, not again” moment.
My Dad passed away only 6 days after my 26th birthday and that is the day I became an orphan. I remember only 4 weeks prior to my dad passing he was rushed into hospital, I asked him “dad, please don’t die on or before my birthday” and he looked at me and laughed his words now echo in my ears “I won’t Fu, I promise”, I know he held on for it even if we all thought he might have passed that day, yet he proved us all wrong and the next three days after he was full of life.
Losing my mum was one thing but losing my dad so short after makes it all that more devastating. People expect you to be okay and to get on with the world after one loss but have no fucking idea what it is like losing both.
So here I am, sharing my experiences, my losses, things I have learnt to get through, some things I have grown to hate and some insights in what it may be like for you, hopefully this will help you on your journey.. Welcome to the “Me Too” Club.
Many adults, grown up’s, older people – they will tell you they know what your going through, they don’t. Nothing makes me want to scream more. They don’t understand , they have no idea what I am going through. Your parents were able to see your life milestones, your children got to meet there nanny and poppy, they were able to see you get married. My parents will never see me in a wedding gown, my dad will never walk me down the isle, neither of my parents will get to meet my children, I will never see them in a photo with my baby’s and I will never hear them sing a lullaby rocking them to sleep, so please do not compare or equate the situation. Losing one parent is heartbreaking but both so soon and so young it has the capability to destroy your whole life and mental health. I understand people say these things to show sympathy and I truly get that and that’s great and all but the statements can hold so much ignorance, especially when its something like this.
People will tell you to “get over it” – they will tell you to get back into life yet have no idea again about the pain you are carrying everyday, the loss you have to wake up to everyday and accept. Some people that haven’t experienced this type of loss just don’t get it and that’s not their fault. Some days I wake up bitter as people expect you to be okay but you aren’t and you just want them to see your pain but they can’t understand or empathize, even people who have lost one parent or someone who has lost both at an older age have not experienced losing both 13 months apart and at an age when your life is just beginning. I realize it’s not their fault and even though I want to shout and yell my pain at them, I should be happy they don’t understand and that they haven’t felt this feeling, no matter how hard it is for me to accept I wouldn’t wish this experience on anybody and I’m grateful that people my age, my siblings age and even my parents age have never had to experience and go through this loss or pain.
Holiday’s and life events will never be the same – I know the holidays can be a difficult time for anyone but this experience has changed them forever. The traditions or normality of it all has gone and you are left with the emptiness that there absence has left behind. You will forever wonder what things would be like if they were here and you wish they were. The holidays and birthdays carry a somewhat gloom, a shadow that will never be filled again, They carry memories of the past and previous times are brought to the surface opening up that pain of what use to be. You would crawl to the ends of the earth to have them back again, the people around you will be filled with holiday cheer, a cake for your birthday and will be asking about “plans” unaware that these days bring SO MUCH FUCKING PAIN.
Those fucking cliche phrases – “They’re in a better place” or “They’re watching over you”. It is the last thing you want to hear, if they were in a better place they’d be here with me, with the family. I don’t want to hear you tell me they are watching over me because it is not the same as having them here with me, in front of me, hearing their voice, their laugh, seeing their eyes and smile. It makes you remember you will never get them moments again, I know people mean well when they say these things but what they don’t know is that it makes a wave of emotions inside of you and you have to force a smile on your face and let a thank you quietly escape your lips while you swallow the breakdown it’ll be sure to bring moments after they leave.
One thing you do need, a push – but when the time is right. Nothing made me more bitter when someone would turn around and say “you should get back to work”, it fucked my mind when my mum passed but nearly pushed me over the edge when my dad passed. I just lost two fucking parents don’t you dare tell me to “get back to work” , why don’t you ‘fuck off’. Don’t tell me to “get on with it”, let me mourn, let me do nothing, let me gather my thoughts, my emotions, let me process what the fuck has just happened, LET ME GRIEVE, without being pushed! It’s an arrogant thing to do a week after someone loses a loved one, let alone two. In saying this though, there will come a time when that is what you need because despite how much you have picked yourself up and how hard you are trying to get through this there will be days when you need a little shove out of bed, a friend or family member to help motivate you to the next day and I appreciate them fully. The people who say it too soon, I am also grateful for there concern but you just don’t get it. We need time, Our own space and time. My parent’s always said that I have my own life to live and I will live it to my fullest potential, I will get back to a somewhat new normal but please do not pressure me, this pain takes time to pick yourself up from. Even a month later, 6 months later, 14 months later you’ll be sitting at work with tears forming at your eyes struggling to breath because despite getting through yesterday, today for no reason at all it is a thousand times harder. You will think of them everyday. So people, please don’t ever pressure someone to “get on with it”, we try to, everyday.
My family have always been close in a dysfunctional way – we may not have talked here and there but we would always put aside our problems for our parents. After the loss of our mum the bonds of our family grew stronger, even the relationship with my dad grew though at times he wished he could be with mum there was an understanding over who has lost more, no one understands what your going through, which means the people who do become so much more important. My siblings are the only people in the world who understand what I have lost and the weight each of us carry around everyday. It makes you realize how much you love them, how much you would rather take all of their pain and carry it for them. I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me 2 sisters and a brother, they have been my biggest blessing through this.
After experiencing this type of loss and pain – it is so easy to become cold and empty, unable to offer much to the world and people around you, you realize that you can’t be as supportive and selfless towards others as your using all your energy on having to get through the day. All your energy is being used to snap you out of the ‘zoning’ moments of your parents. When someone who hasn’t been through this see’s you starting to move on with the everyday life they think that your doing OK and it is so easy to become angry with them as they don’t realize that everyday is a struggle between grateful and embitterment. I just wished people would understand that this is going to be carried around with me for the rest of my life, of course it will get better, of course time will ‘heal’ but I will always have this weight every single day, which brings me to my next point…
From the moment they pass – for the rest of your life you will have these moments, these moments when something happens in your life and you pick up the phone or you race to their house to tell them whats happened and then reality kicks in and you realize you can’t call them that when you get to their house they wont be home, your dad wont be waiting to open the door for you and its fucking heart shattering. This sort of stuff doesn’t just happen once or twice it’s an ongoing every day wake up call, I wouldn’t be able to count on both hands how many times moments like these have slapped me across the face, these damn realization moments. Even some parts of the house that bring so many memories you can’t even bare to enter it anymore as it just hits you so much harder, you expect to see them looking back at you or over there shoulder but you see nothing, just the ghost of them that leaves you with an aching heart.
Words, words are everything – everyone knows how important last words are yet when someone in your life passes the last words affect you more then you think. When you know they are passing you understand the weight of words and what they can carry, you are forever reminding them how much you love them no matter if your fighting or angry with them, and this doesn’t just carry onto the loved one passing but on to every one around you, you are forever telling everyone how much they mean to you, how much you appreciate and love them as you want them to always know how you feel. I was lucky enough to be with both of my parents when they passed and I said all the right things, I told them I loved them and it’s okay to leave us, how amazing and great they were and that they have done enough for us but even when they passed it is so easy to be pulled into these states like you could have said more? Or I wish I said more, or I wish I said this.. and you just can’t do that, second guessing yourself, going through this will knock you down 10 feet further and it’ll make it all that much harder to get through.
Through all the emotions – through all the ups and downs after the death, You need to let the guilt go. It takes time, you will forever think about certain things or times and it isn’t a simple task. You have to wake up every day and throughout the day continuously make the decision to let it go, over and over again, But you will and you do make that decision every time. You learn to let go of the guilt and you realize that all of things you could have done or said differently can’t help you now. All the times I told my mum I was busy, All the times I told my dad I couldn’t go with him to the shops, Oh how I wish I fucking went.. just so I had that extra time, those extra moments but feeling guilty about those decisions does not help me in the present. You can’t change anything that has happened so you learn to accept it no matter how many times you have to do it. You learn to move on and you learn to live with it, you learn to live with how things ended and accept that it wasn’t your fault and that you could have not changed anything that’s happened to them and eventually you start to realize that every moment spent with them will always be enough. How blessed I am to have had the times and moments I did, Always concentrate on the moments that did happen not the ones that didn’t.
After losing someone so close and important in your life the world can become so negative – and you’ll have to learn to change it. It’ll be so easy for you to become bitter and resent the world for taking them from you, for robbing you of so much time. You become pessimistic about life’s outcomes and you’ll need to learn to let the bitterness go. You have to learn that this experience does not mean you will never be happy again and that life will never be good again, amidst all the pain some of my fondest memories now have happened after both loses, they are filled with sadness, love, so much fucking love and uncontrollable laughter and it comes from the every day things, like one of us saying a joke or doing something utterly stupid or just being together as a family and we were happy in that moment, its those times that are the realest that make you remember how strong you are and how random life’s fickle flashes are. You realize that your parents would never want you to go through life with this chip on your shoulder they would want you to be happy again, so you have to learn to change your outlook on life, again. When you laugh now, when you are in those moments of unconditional everything, feel grateful you are and experience it all, not just for you but for your parents.
To the people who have lost their parents – and I have complained about mine when they were alive, I’M SORRY. I know that it’s a ‘natural’ normal thing to do even my parents still complained about their’s and maybe after losing mine at the age I am it’s given me a different perspective, but please Do Not Ever Complain About Your Parents To Me! At least you still have yours. I would sell my soul to have my mum yelling at me or my dad lecturing me, I would give anything for just one of them being here with me. When people complain to me about their parents it makes me mad that they can’t appreciate the love and care that their parents are giving them, they don’t appreciate the fact that they still have parents and a bond with them therefor it is hard to empathize with there complaints as I wish I could have my parents back.
You start to live life more – and you learn to not waste time. Time is forever ticking away and it makes you more honest with yourself and those around you as you understand how quickly life can disappear. You have lost and overcome something unbelievably important which makes you not want to settle for anything less then you deserve. You learn how strong you are, you never thought you’d have to make it through this but you did, you made it. After getting through something like this you realize that nothing can ever stop you, realizing you can survive this means you can literally survive anything else life throws at you.
The Appreciation for your parents grows and grows – Iv’e heard people say that death distorts the memory as people can over glorify the ones who have passed but I don’t think that is true. The loss makes you realize that the bad aspects of a person no longer matter, you realize who they actually were, the core of them and what really mattered. You SEE Them.
When they pass you lose that anchor to your identity you feel lost without their presence, you forget why you are here and what you are doing here but as time goes on you notice the parts about yourself that come from them, the values, ideals they have taught you and how they have shaped you and the life you are leading. You let go of the bad memories because they don’t hold any value, you just remember the person they were, the love and support they always gave you and the memories you will always have. At the end of it all they were your parents and no one will ever be able to replace them.
Don’t take anyone, any memory, any experience for granted – Everything you currently have can be lost without warning. You learn to appreciate every little thing in life, you learn what is important and what is not. Your meaning of life has changed forever.
The one thing I have taken away from all of this – Is to be grateful. So fucking grateful. It sucks, all of this sucks but you learn to wake up every day with an acceptance to the loss on your shoulders and you look outside with a smile on your face because even though your world fell apart for a moment, it’s still so beautiful. I am grateful to have had my mum in my life for nearly 25 years, I am grateful to have had my dad for 26 years. No one, not even death is able to take away the time we spent together. Some people never got to meet their parents and some have had their parents but never the connection I had with mine. So I am fucking grateful and even though I sometimes wish they’d be here, the time we got together will always be enough. Life is a complete mess and it will take people that you love but life still and always will be beautiful.
Sometimes, just sometimes, when people say ‘forever’, they mean it.