For Anyone Who Has Lost a Parent or Will Lose a ParentJill Layton

I don’t want to ruin your day or anything, but let’s discuss something really sad, because sometimes life stuff is sad. A lot of the time, actually. Sad things happen, and I think it’s important to talk about them.

Our parents are going to die. Not right this second (I’m not predicting a parent apocalypse), but eventually they will die. They will die before we do (unless something goes terribly wrong, but let’s not make this any sadder). It’s just the way time works. They’re older. They die first. That’s how they want it, and that’s how it should be. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

By now, most of us have lost someone close to us, so we can imagine how awful it is to lose a parent. But until it happens to you, you won’t fully understand the gravity of the awfulness. And that’s okay. Not understanding is not feeling the pain, and living without the pain is something we should be entitled to do for as long as we can. The pain of waking up every morning and for a split second, forgetting that part of your heart and soul isn’t here anymore, and then remembering is awful. Part of who you are and where you come from is gone. No new memories will ever be made with your parent again.

When something really great happens to you, like when you get married, or have a baby or win a Nobel Peace Prize (or a fun prize in one of those claw arcade games), the person who would care the most isn’t here to be proud of you. If something really bad happens to you, your first instinct is to call your mom or dad for support, but you can’t. Their phone has been disconnected. When your parent dies, you instantly lose the feeling of being connected to your childhood and where you come from. You can no longer ask questions about your family history, medical questions or how to do life questions. No one will ever love us in the same unconditional way our parents have loved us. The pain of losing a parent never goes away, you just learn to live with it.

Everyone grieves differently and in their own way, but ultimately, our feelings are universal. There are different stages of grief, but they don’t happen in order. One day you may feel angry or depressed, and the next day you may think, “If only I did something differently, she’d still be alive.”. Maybe the next day you accept that he’s gone, then five minutes later a memory pops up and you can’t stop crying. There isn’t one correct way of grieving (like there is one correct way of eating an Oreo). If you want to stay home to be alone with your thoughts, then do it. If going out with friends helps you feel better, then go. However you are grieving is how you’re supposed to be grieving.

I’m not a grief expert, but I know that I’m not alone in wanting to talk about it. My mom died two years ago. It was sudden and terrible. I’m still grieving, and I always will be. And you will grieve too, if you aren’t already. But we will be okay, because we have to be. Our lives continue without them. As hard and as heart breaking as it is, we don’t have a choice. Our parents did everything they could to prepare us for being on our own. Not just living in a different home or city, but living when they no longer are. Doing life the way they prepared us to. And as long as we feel like they’d be proud of us, then we’re doing it right.

This post is dedicated to my mom, Margie Silver, and to all the moms and dads who are greatly missed.

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.Featured image via ShutterStock

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  • claire

    I lost my Dad 2 months ago. I cry everyday and It
    feels like he died yesterday. He was an alcoholic. He thought he had cancer but he didn’t tell me. I knew he was sick and would always be sick but I didn’t know he was that sick. My grandma knew that he was very very sick and didn’t tell me. That weekend I didn’t have a visit with him because my sister was afraid because last weekend he was drunk. The only reason why I wanted to have a visit with him was to make sure he was ok. He died that weekend. Also that weekend I was having daydreams that he had died. My Grandma couldn’t get a hold of him so she called the police. They found him dead on the ground. They got rid of everything in his house because it was dangerous. My Mom wouldn’t let me see the house because it was in bad shape. But I wanted to see it more than anything In the world. Now they are selling the house and I see his trailer in the gradge every day so now I can’t pretend he is at his house ok. When ever I think about him I cry. My brother hadn’the seen him for 4 years just because of a little fight. My Dad had said mean things to him but still loved him more then anything even though he had a terrible way of showing it. My best friend now has a new one. And now I am trying to fit in but I don’t. All of my friends from elementary school have new friends. I use to be popular and now I am not. My Dad would yell at me and I would cry. But then he would hug me and tell me everything would be alright and that he was sorry he yelled. Right now I need that more than anything for to hug me and tell me everything is going to be alright but he is gone forever Now and I guess I just have to accept that.

  • claire

    I lost my Dad 2 months ago. I cry everyday and It
    feels like he died yesterday. He was an alcoholic. He thought he had cancer but he didn’t tell me. I knew he was sick and would always be sick but I didn’t know he was that sick. My grandma knew that he was very very sick and didn’t tell me. That weekend I didn’t have a visit with him because my sister was afraid because last weekend he was drunk. The only reason why I wanted to have a visit with him was to make sure he was ok. He died that weekend. Also that weekend I was having daydreams that he had died. My Grandma couldn’t get a hold of him so she called the police. They found him dead on the ground. They got rid of everything in his house because it was dangerous. My Mom wouldn’t let me see the house because it was in bad shape. But I wanted to see it more than anything In the world. Now they are selling the house and I see his trailer in the gradge every day so now I can’t pretend he is at his house ok. When ever I think about him I cry. My brother hadn’the seen him for 4 years just because of a little fight. My Dad had said mean things to him but still loved him more then anything even though he had a terrible way of showing it. My best friend now has a new one. And now I am trying to fit in but I don’t. All of my friends from elementary school have new friends. I use to be popular and now I am not. My Dad would yell at me and I would cry. But then he would hug me and tell me everything would be alright and that he was sorry he yelled. Right now I need that more than anything for to hug me and tell me everything is going to be alright but he is gone forever Now and I guess I just have to accept that.

  • claire

    I lost my Dad 2 months ago. I cry everyday and It
    feels like he died yesterday. He was an alcoholic. He thought he had cancer but he didn’t tell me. I knew he was sick and would always be sick but I didn’t know he was that sick. My grandma knew that he was very very sick and didn’t tell me. That weekend I didn’t have a visit with him because my sister was afraid because last weekend he was drunk. The only reason why I wanted to have a visit with him was to make sure he was ok. He died that weekend. Also that weekend I was having daydreams that he had died. My Grandma couldn’t get a hold of him so she called the police. They found him dead on the ground. They got rid of everything in his house because it was dangerous. My Mom wouldn’t let me see the house because it was in bad shape. But I wanted to see it more than anything In the world. Now they are selling the house and I see his trailer in the gradge every day so now I can’t pretend he is at his house ok. When ever I think about him I cry. My brother hadn’the seen him for 4 years just because of a little fight. My Dad had said mean things to him but still loved him more then anything even though he had a terrible way of showing it. My best friend now has a new one. And now I am trying to fit in but I don’t. All of my friends from elementary school have new friends. I use to be popular and now I am not. My Dad would yell at me and I would cry. But then he would hug me and tell me everything would be alright and that he was sorry he yelled. Right now I need that more than anything for to hug me and tell me everything is going to be alright but he is gone forever Now and I guess I just have to accept that.

  • Elizabeth Garcia

    I lost my husband 2 years ago and I think of him every day .. and no matter what I love him he was the other half of me .. like any other couples we had our ups and downs .. but we love each other very much … I miss him every day ..looking at our kids is like looking at him.. thay have something of him and every day they remind me of him …. But one day we will see him …. My strength is my lord and my kids ….

  • Lisa Lewis

    Aww. this was a great post. I was a terrible daughter in lots ways. I didn’t understand my mother until it was too late and now, here i am. You never get over missing your mother…now i realize my mom was awesome and did the best she could in regards to her Karma…great post ..thanks

  • Deborah Jean D

    Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are experiencing. I lost my mother 23 years ago and my father less than two months ago. My mother’s loss was utter devastation to me as a young woman and I have missed her in varying degrees of intensity every day since then. My father, while still tragic, could be understood by a more mature mind as a merciful release from brutal suffering. As a now parentless middle-aged woman, I grieve the unconditional love and support most of all. No one else can do that for us, the way our parents did. Wishing that beautiful memories will soon replace the pain from the loss of your mother.

  • Jackie Morfesis

    Grief has no timetable. No rules. No laws. Each of us experiences the passing of a loved one differently. However, as a Christian, or even to expand and say – if we are spiritually inclined – Death is the big lie. They are not gone, they are not dead. Death is the date that marks our passage into eternity. Many cultures celebrate death, not as an end, but as a beginning. Our loved ones are Always with us. I too, have lost a parent. One that I lived with and cared with until his passing. The parent who was my rock, my supporter. But, I never refer to my father as being the “d” word. Because is the illusion of darkness. My father is very much alive. May his memory and the memory of all the beloved souls who have passed from this earth, be at peace, and be eternal.

  • Greg

    I lost my Mom on Sept. 3, 2014. She was 89 and had dementia. I cared for her in my home (I refused to place her in a nursing home). I had aides at the house during the day and I took care of Mom in the evenings and on the weekends.
    Yes, she lived a full life but, it’s still been very difficult for me. When my Mom was in a “transitional stage” and the nurse told me Mom had only had a couple of days left, I sat by her side until the end. She wasn’t noticeably receptive to sound or touch however, the night before she passed, I told her I loved her and she squeezed my hand, I began to cry.
    Mom was a British war bride and left England when she was 21 never to see her parents again (she didn’t have a phone when she arrived in the states and it was rather expensive to fly in the late 40’s. Years later when she went home for a visit, she would ask her sisters to take her to the cemetery but they said “You’re on holiday, that’s depressing to do while on holiday” and she never went. In 2005 I took her home for a month and took her to her parents grave for the first time. For years, my Mom would always say “I miss my Mum”. Prior to her death, I thought it best to take my Mom back to England when she passed. I corresponded with the cemetery and was told “This is just a suggestion but, there’s room for another burial with your Mum’s parents”. There was nothing to think about. I took my Mom back to England and laid her to rest with her parents. I find comfort knowing she’s back home with her Mum and Dad.
    I think of her everyday and eventhough, 6 months have passed, my eyes still well up with tears. Coming home from work to and empty house every evening has been extremely difficult. I feel my Mom and Dad (he passed in 1988 when I was 23) are watching over me. I’ve had a more difficult with losing my Mom. I’m uncertain if it’s because now, both my parents are gone and I’m all alone now or simply because she’s my Mom but, I feel it’s true what somebody else mentioned. You never get over it, you just learn to cope. I can’t help but wonder the grief my Mom experienced all those years after leaving and then never seeing them and finding out when her parents passed.
    I wish everybody the best on this site and hope you find a little bit of comfort knowing the loved one(s) you lost will always be by your side looking over you.

    • E. D.

      Love and hugs to you <3
      You did a brilliant thing for your Mum, Greg, getting her back home.
      I understand coming home to an empty house as I was also my momma's caregiver. Sometimes I sit in the driveway and cry in the car for a little while because the house is so empty and some days I cannot bear it…

      • Greg

        Thank you E.D.
        Yes, I often find myself, going to a store after work and spending and hour and a half there just to avoid going home. I’m hopeful, in time, I’ll be able to adjust and become more functional on weekends instead of being so non-productive. I think that just makes me feel worse.
        Of course, I’ll never be fully losing my Mom. Thanks so much for your kind words and I wish you well….

  • Taffany Bogle

    Hello, thank you for sharing your story. March 13th my mom Deborah Smith Bogle has been gone 2 years and some days it feels like it all just happened. And the mornings are the worst ,cause I still find myself waking up asking for her. Then I remember, I miss her so bad. She had cirrhosis and that’s a horrible way to live. Your body is just full of poisons. She really was tired of being sick. She was so scared to leave me. Cause I’ve never been married and no children. My sister is married and has 4 children and now a grandbaby. I ask my mom one day” why are you so scared to leave me.” She said, “who will love you like I do.” Now I know why she felt that way. Cause no one will ever love me like that. Not even my dad. He left one day, 6 months after mom passed .No phone call or nothing for a month. We are trying now to have a relationship. Anyways, I had a real hard time at first. I’m learning to live with it more and more everyday. But you’re right the pain never goes away. You just learn to live with what is. But somedays I feel stuck and like I’m just letting her down. Thanks for letting me share my story and for sharing yours as well. Taffany Bogle

  • Anthony Griffin Sr.

    i went thru so many deaths as a child granma at 12 alcoholic mother at 14 homeless at 15 thru 19 various aunts uncles and cousins between the 15 – 19 years didn’t know my dad so i can relate

  • ValWaltzing

    Thank you for sharing this. My Mom passed away two days ago. You perfectly articulated that feeling of being suddenly alone even if, like me, you are surrounded by people – husband, children, friends … it’s not the same. No one can or ever will be able to fill that void. I’ve lost grandparents, I’ve been divorced, I even lost my father several years ago. Nothing has ever hurt as much as the loss of my mother. Your post was very touching, and I thank you for it.

  • Randy R

    This is basically a copy of what i posted on Valentines day on my site. Checking in real quickly. Went to cemetery a couple of hours ago to see my dad an leave a special card. Am holding it together somehow. Still with my mom an other half. More later when I have the time. Am wearing my dad’s shirt an belt buckle. Second Valentine without my dad. Don’t know what I
    am feeling. 

    Two last photos from yesterday. I should know by now that
    because Holidays are a stressful time for me, to try an avoid the cemetery.

    Let me explain the two photos. One is a special gift I gave my dad a few years ago for
    Father’s Day. He was in the Air Force for over 20 years an loved the solar
    light display. Strangely it has been lighting up on its own since he passed
    away. Usually at a perfect time when mom needs it the worse. We believe it is a
    sign from dad to my mom. Also, as I mentioned yesterday, I made a mistake an
    went into the main bedroom. This is the display that might end up hung on the
    wall. Has the flag that covered his coffin. Had militarily funeral. Also has
    his metals from the military. I could not stay in that room long. Did something
    bright when I went back to the front room. Did one of my meditations which
    helped. Now off to church . Back in a few

  • Ceri

    Really related to this post. My Dad passed away from cancer suddenly 3 months ago ago and it is like a part of me is missing everyday :(

  • Angel Lara

    I Lost Both Of My Parents Before the age of 18 breast cancer and hiv.

  • Seanna

    Hi,
    I have never actually commented on anything like this before. I was just searching for help and came across this page. I lost my mum on the 20th January, very unexpectedly. She went into hospital to have her gallbladder removed, and never came out again. They told us she had contracted “sepsis” and it caused her organs to close down. We were told at 5.05pm we could go down to recovery to see her she was alive at this point. We made our way down her 5 children and my dad. When we got down they ask us to go into the relatives room and wait. We didn’t think anything of it. They came back at 5.15 and began to tell us about the “procedure” she had gone through. I asked the doctor if my mum was alive twice and got told to wait till she finished I got quite hysterical at this point and demanded to know she said very sadly she passed away! I will never forget what she said till the day I meet my mother the pain was indescribable. They told us my mother passed away at 5.10pm. I can’t seem to come to terms with it, I was with my mother every single day, she helped me raise my 3 children as their dad worked and I worked. I feel like my life has come to an end my brother and sister feel the same as does my dad. I feel so very guilty I am here and she isn’t. I know I have to try and pull myself together but I can’t. My mother was only 66. I need some help or any advice because I just don’t know what to do x

  • Natural death

    Thanks for sharing this, Jill. My pop is dying and I’m so grieved. Just looking for hope of being able to get on and it seems so impossible right now. I’ll do as my dad taught me though and keep trucking.

  • Stephanie

    Jill,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I love being able to read articles like this that I can relate to.
    My mother died when I was 15, a freshman in high school. She was killed by a family friend and it pretty much shattered my world. I took on new responsibilities with my brother, learning how to cook, clean properly etc. During everything, I was grateful for my dad. He was extremely supportive. He may have worked a whole lot, but came to all my home volleyball games, senior nights, was there to take photos before Prom, even planned my 16th and 18th birthday parties. He was defiantly dad of the year. My mom may not have been there to teach me about makeup, hair and other things that moms do but my dad made up for it. He was the greatest.
    In 2006, I went to college, my dad and grandparents drove me and dropped me off. I had a blast while I was in school. I didn’t go home as often as I would have liked due to my jobs but I talked to my dad and grandparents a few times a week. In 2011, I moved to California for almost a year, I ended up moving back because my dad was sick. We talked a lot during my time in California so I knew when something was wrong. He told me not to move back to Florida but I did anyway.
    When I returned, I found out more.The doctors found a lump called a sarcoma in my dads throat and it was a rare thing. Thanks to surgery and 5 months of radiation, my dad made it through. I knew he would. He was and always had been in great shape, eaten right and had the most positive attitude of anyone I had ever seen. In 2013, I got married to my husband and my dad helped with the most beautiful wedding. That would be the last time the entire family was together because in 2014, the sarcoma in his neck returned. He did chemo, radiation but he lost his battle in October, just 4 months ago.
    I cant tell you how many days at work, while driving, while going to sleep, I prayed so hard that my dad wouldn’t be taken too. I couldn’t loose both of my parents before I was even 28 years old and my brother 22. I couldn’t imagine a world where I didn’t call him or text him every day. I just couldn’t imagine it but now that’s my reality. Its hard not calling him on my way home from work, texting him throughout the day and hearing him do his silly voices over the phone.
    I will always grieve for my parents. There will be a lot they won’t be here for. I know this and I’m doing my best to accept it. I also know they will be there for me and my brother, just not in the way we would like. A lot of my parents have only lost their grandparents and as much as I hurt for them, I know the hurt is different. Thanks again so much for sharing your story, there aren’t a lot of articles like this out there. I appreciate it more than you know.

    • Jill Layton

      And thank you for sharing yours. xo

  • Pineapple

    MOM – Liver Cancer – Aug 27 2009 Dad – Sudden stroke – Aug 17th 2013.

    We decided to have our Wedding Aug 6th 2014, to make the month bitter sweet. i KNOW they were with us on that day prior the rainy days & possible rainy afternoon upon our big day that ended up clear blue sunny skies. I brought a piece of my Mom’s bouquet(the ribbon bow that was with it) & My Dad’s Santa bell’s as he had played Santa for MANY MANY YEARS! BTW it was an out door wedding so weather was a big thing! & hiking to the spot I rang my Dad’s bells & had my Sister walk me there because all I have left from MY first family is Her, My Niece My Aunt & other unfortunately long distant family. LOVE MY INLAWS but They all are far away as well! I was just getting into Lady Gaga in which I KNOW Mom & Dad would have loved cuz they were just that cool, but Mom didnt get to love her like Dad did, & when I got to see Gaga this summer I cried cuz I wished they were there with me besides my sister & niece. My wedding I ddint cry I knew they were there… like I said the weather! But yeah calling them complaining about work or goin to the mall with Dad just window shopping MAYBE being a spoiled lil girl, just always someone to always talk to no matter what time of day it was knowing they’ll always be there & now its gone. Yeah you can talk to them in a prayer but its just not the same. Hearing their voice via an old voice mail makes you want to hug them & just cry. but you gotta remain strong for yourself cuz life aint stopping for sadness. <3

    PS sorry for any typos I'm just open & talking from my heart. <3

  • Jessica

    My mom passed in 2008 to a stroke it was a long strung out sad way to watch her die and it’s something I just cannot get over then oct of 2013 my dad passed away to lung cancer he battled it for almost a year I had to watch both my parents die of slow agonizing sad deaths I don’t think I will ever be right again :,(

  • smileybat

    Firstly, thanks for sharing this and after reading the experiences narrated by all the commentors, i feel humbled. I am 42 and l lost my mum when I was 35 and my dad when i was 40. i wake up every few hours looking for them and then i relive the events. I accomplished a lot but still i feel that i have let them down. I hope I will find them. They are my home. Most of my adult life i lived in different countries for learning and researching, even so i search for them. I think they were proud of me but i wish i had told them that i loved them everyday. So for the youngsters here, can i just say i am sorry for the harshness and but it wouldnt make the pain any less even if one loses their parents a lot older or after achieving certain milestones in life. Perhaps i am being ungrateful. Life is like going to school and then my parents will pick me up. Then i will drink tea on top of a green hill and watch the rain with them contently at peace. But before that, i have lots to learn. I find this goal and feeling help me keep on going and i feel close to them. Maybe it will help someone get through ….

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