11 Things I learned After Losing a Parent

When I was younger, I used to always think that time moved so slowly. I remember feeling like Christmas would NEVER come around, or that one whole year of school seemed like a lifetime.

It’s funny how life events can change your perspective, though. When I was 11 years old, my father was taken from me suddenly. He had a heart attack in his sleep and died. From that moment on, my viewpoint on time, and how short it truly can be, changed forever.

Here are a few things I learned after losing a parent:

1. It’s okay not to be okay.

After losing my dad, I constantly felt like I had to help my mom out with my younger siblings. You see, I was the oldest of 3, and instantly felt like I needed to always be strong to my family. But it’s completely okay to not always be okay. Life is going to knock you down, and sometimes you need to allow for yourself to heal in a way that you are able to heal. Being strong ALL the time can become very tiring. Take each day and do even just one thing for yourself; whether it be physically, emotionally, or spiritually. By doing so, you will notice in time, how you are able to begin to heal.

2. Life is not always fair.

I remember after my father passed away, I felt like there was no way that I could endure anything else to cause me pain. I remember feeling almost as if I was invincible to pain, simply because there was no way that life could be THAT unfair, right? Man, was I definitely wrong. When I was 13, I learned that my mother had bone cancer. She fought the cancer for 2 long years, but in the end, she lost her battle to cancer. Not only had I lost my dad at such a young age, but now my siblings and I were left parentless in this world.

Life is not always going to be fair, and it will knock you down time and time again. The only thing that you can control is the way that you handle each situation. You can let this world chew you up and spit you out, time and time again, or you can learn to conquer these awful tragedies and continue living your life one step at a time. I like to look at each day as a new day to make my parents proud of me. Ask yourself, “How can I strive to be the best version of myself, in order to make my parents proud of me today?”

3. It’s hard to hear people talk about their parents.

This one constantly gets to me. I cannot tell you how many times I hear people complain about their parents, or complain about how unfair their mom is being. Before I jump down their throats and remind them of how lucky they are to at least have parents, I have to remind myself that everyone is human. People unfortunately are not always thinking about how their words might affect others. Also, people are only human. It is natural for us to express our emotions, even if we don’t always think about how it might affect someone else in a negative light.

4. You learn to grow up quickly.

After losing my dad, I remember feeling like I needed to be the second parent to my younger siblings. I constantly felt the pressure to help my mother out when she needed me, that sometimes I forgot what it was like, just being a kid. When we lose a loved one, we suddenly grow up because we realize how valuable and short life can be, and how much other need us. Just because you feel that you need to always be strong for others though, do not forget to take care of yourself!

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5. No matter how much time has passed, holidays are still rough.

I hate to say it, but the holidays will probably always be bittersweet. Holidays are portrayed as a time to spend with your loved ones, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. When we are used to spending these precious memories with our loved ones, we are constantly reminded of how hard it can be to miss our loved ones during these times. I always remember how important Christmas was to my dad, as we would almost always go down to celebrate with his side of the family on Christmas eve. Memories seem to come rushing back during these times, making the holidays harder to endure.

I encourage you to work on remembering them in a positive light during these difficult times. That can be a simple as placing a special ornament on the Christmas tree every year that reminds you of them, or maybe you make a tradition to watch home movies on their birthday to be reminded of all the good memories with them.

6. You worry about everything, all the time.

After my parents passed away, I constantly jumped to conclusions about everything. If my siblings didn’t answer their phones or contact me when they were supposed to, I immediately thought the worst had happened to them. I also constantly worried that the worst might happen to me. If I had a little heartburn one day, my mind raced to thoughts of having a heart attack.Grief does funny tricks to our brain. We constantly worry that our loved ones will leave us at any given time. If it happened once, it can happen again, right? Except we should not always live our lives in fear. This is no way to live, nor is it any way to make our parents proud of us. With time, I have learned to not constantly think the worst thing would happen, and to not assume things before knowing the answer.

7. Stop feeling Guilty.

I felt constantly guilty after my dad passed away especially. The day that my dad passed away, we were at my basketball game. I constantly thought to myself, if only we didn’t go to my game, maybe we could’ve saved my dad. Or “maybe if we had known that he was having chest pains, we could’ve gotten him the help he deserved,” but unfortunately no matter how many times you feel this guilt, it will not bring them back to you. So there is no point to cause you more pain, when it is not solving anything. There was nothing you could have done to save them and there is nothing you can do to bring them back unfortunately. Your guilt is only causing you more pain, and keeping you from living the life that you deserve to live. Go out and live your life, in honor of the parent that passed away and stop feeling guilty of getting to live your life when they no longer can live theirs. You are on this earth for a reason, and you are important to this world. Never forget that.

8. You learn that life is short.

Once you lose a parent, you realize how precious time can be. Spending time with loved ones becomes something you value and crave. Telling people you love them is also something you are constantly feeling. When we lose a loved one, we are brought back to how short our lives truly are, even though we didn’t think so when we were younger. If nothing else, please take away from losing your parent, that life is what you make of it, and one day, you will live your last day on this earth. Can you look back on your life and say that you lived it fully?

9. Everyone has their own version of Hard.

This is something I am constantly reminded of. You are not allowed to judge someone else, simply because you think what you have endured in life is more challenging than someone else. Sometimes we do not know everyone’s story, so it is not our right to judge them.  When you see someone struggling, work to be understanding, and listen to them. You never know when someone simply just needs someone to listen.

10. You are not the only one that has lost a loved one.

This was something I struggled with for a while and somewhat goes with the above statement. I used to always think that my life was so much more difficult than everyone else’s, and that I had lost two parents, so that made my life tougher than everyone else’s. As I said above, everyone has their own version of hard. Also, there are a lot of people on this earth who have encountered hardships in their lives as well. Life is definitely not always fair, but that should not mean it is okay to assume you are allowed to treat people a certain way because you assume you have it worse off than someone else.

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11. Broken Crayons still color.

I remember reading this quote some time ago, and thinking of how beautiful it was. Just because we are broken at this moment, does not mean that we will always be broken. You still have your color inside of you, and it may take a few weeks, months or years, but you will regain your strength. You will be happy again. We just need to have patience and give ourselves time to get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your healing process wasn’t either. Give yourself the time that you need and one day, you will learn to be happy again.

Losing a parent does not define you as a parson, but it will change you. You will gain strength that you never knew you had. You will learn to live again. Life is so precious, so make sure you life it in a way to make your loved one proud!

Written by Brittany Husong




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