11 Things I Learned After Losing A Parent
You know everyone always says you never know what you have until it’s gone. I remember hearing people say this to me and always thinking, “Okay, I get it.”
I think sometimes we really don’t understand the meaning of losing something until it happens. Whether it be something physical, or even a person. It hits you when you least expect it.
I found out my mom had stage four pancreatic cancer, and then a week later she passed away. Talk about not having time and not knowing what to think or do… I am a college student who loves my family more than anything. I am that girl that calls her mom her best friend, sister, and mom all-in-one. Now let me tell you, losing her made me realize so much more than I ever thought I would learn.
1. Timing is everything.
Timing is literally everything. Hearing that your mom is dying of cancer, then realizing you don’t have time… That’s what sucks. You don’t know what to say, what to do, what your last words might be, what you want to apologize for, thank her for, and your head spins in a thousand different directions. Timing is literally everything, don’t ever wait — you don’t have forever.
2. It’s okay not to be okay.
I wasn’t okay at the time, and I still don’t think I am. I probably never will be “okay” again, but that’s alright. It’s okay not to be okay. This is something I will never get over, because losing a parent is an incident that changes you. Nobody will understand unless they go through something similar. It’s okay to have angry days, sad days, so-so days, and even days when you don’t want to see anyone. Days when you just can’t be happy and you think that it’s a terrible day, and you don’t even know why because you just woke up.
3. You learn who your actual friends are…
…because of who is there for you, and not just by saying “I’m sorry for your loss.” I guess I expected a lot. I expected my friends to pick me up from this deep hole I was in. Some went above and beyond and truly carried me, and they still do. Some I don’t even talk to anymore because of the way they acted. It’s a sensitive topic. If you weren’t there for me during the hardest day of my life, and days to follow, then why be my friend? You learn who your true friends are, and it sucks to see people who you thought were your friends act like nothing ever happened, or want you to just “get over it.” Well guess what, it’s been months, and I’m still not over it.
4. People will still treat you shitty, even after everything you’ve been through.
This is something that makes me more angry than sad. Even though I lost my aunt in the beginning of February, and then 10 days later my mom died, people are still mean to me. Why? I’m not sure. I guess I thought that when people go through some horrible stuff, others cut them some slack. I know I would never treat somebody badly if I knew they were going through something similar to my situation. But, realize that not everyone has the same heart as you might, and that’s what you have to learn, sometimes the hard way.
5. You will cry, even when you least expect it.
This sucks. You could be driving in the car with your friends, going to do something fun, and then all of a sudden it hits you, and you break down. Sometimes you’ll be driving by yourself, and it hits you so hard you have to pull over on the highway because your glasses get foggy from the endless amounts of tears falling from your eyes; it happens. It happens to me more often than not. I realize it’s okay to cry, but I cry alone, which is okay too. I don’t let anyone see me, because I like to seem strong. I like to be everyone else’s strong person. You’ll learn that you may need your own person. So find someone, because that little difference can change everything.
6. Other moms will try their best to be a “second mom” to you…
…and that’s okay. I have so many “filler moms” trying to take over the mom role in my life. Don’t get me wrong, nobody, nobody will replace my mom. But it’s okay to get help, and it’s okay to have other people care for you. Let them. You need to be cared for, because your best friend’s mom who texts you saying she’s proud of you for passing your test, or that she’s thinking of you, will mean the world to you. It will make you believe that you will be okay.
7. People will talk shit about their mom right in front of you.
But before you get upset (which you might) take a deep breath. Remember those moments that you would get mad at your mom too; it happens. Everyone gets into arguments with their parents. It might just annoy you even more now, because you would rather be arguing with your mom on the phone right now than have her be gone, you would rather have a mom, than have her be gone. In the moment, realize that you have gotten mad at your mom too, many times. It’s normal. It’s okay. Just breathe.
8. Crying yourself to sleep every night, it will happen.
I cry myself to sleep every night, whether my roommate hears me or not. Why? Because I’m missing my mom, my best friend, my role model, my super hero, my person. Also, being an only girl makes it tough. Really tough. But I promise you, if you are crying in your bed late at night thinking about how much you miss your parent, that’s when you look to the sky, smile, and close your eyes. Crying yourself to bed every day is sad, it’s something that nobody wants to do. Know that there are so many people around you who want to help. Don’t cry yourself to bed. Grab a friend, and cry together.
9. There are so many people who want to help you but don’t know how…
… and that’s okay. Some people don’t know what to do, or what to say. They don’t know what will make you tick, or what will make you cry on the spot. This is okay, this is what happens when you go through a trauma; it defines you. It gives you a label. “That’s the girl whose mom died after a week of having cancer.” “Oh yeah, that’s the girl who lost her mom.” You become that girl, but that’s okay.
There’s a club to join. Not that you want to be in this “club” at all, because you don’t. But you can surround yourself sometimes with people who have been in the same situation, or something similar, and they get it. They get it the most. They know the endless tears, anger outbursts, sleepless nights, etc. They just know. But that doesn’t mean you should shut out the people who haven’t been through it. They want to help you, too, but they just don’t know how. Being honest and open with them is helpful, maybe by saying you’re sad and that you need a shoulder to cry on. Your friends want to help you, so don’t shut them out.
10. Stop feeling guilty.
I know you might feel guilty because maybe you were on the phone talking to your friends on one of your moms “good days,” or maybe you left her hospital room to make a phone call or to go get something to eat or drink. Stop feeling guilty because you can’t remember the last conversation you had with her, stop feeling guilty because you’ve gained weight from the loss of a loved one, or because you’re more angry now that you’ve lost a loved one, and maybe now you can’t see yourself being happy.
Stop and remember that everything happens for a reason. What’s the reason? Hell, I don’t know. But stop feeling guilty. Stop thinking that you could have done something more, that you could have left school earlier and stayed another day before she got worse. It is not your fault, and stop thinking you could have done something more.
11. Remember that broken crayons still color.
Just because you’re broken, doesn’t mean you’ll never be the same, or that you’ll never color again. You will, I promise you. It may take you a few days, months, years, however long, just remember that you have a life and you deserve to be happy like everyone else in this world. Just because your world stopped spinning for a little bit doesn’t mean it’ll be like that forever. Just because right now you have this pit in your stomach and you feel like you wanna throw up doesn’t mean it’s going to be like this forever. You will be happy again. You will learn to love and to live again. Broken crayons still color – remember that.
Losing someone made me realize that you must live in the moment. Tell the people you love that you love them now — don’t wait. Tell your friends that they mean something to you. Tell people when they hurt your feelings, fix friendships that should be fixed, don’t hold grudges because you honestly don’t know what the next day will bring.
My mom was healthy at my Aunt’s funeral, and a few days later she was dying in the hospital with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I couldn’t believe it. I had no time, no time to say or do what I wanted to. But you’ll be okay, maybe not now, and maybe not soon, but you will be. Remember to accept the help sometimes, but allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Losing a loved one doesn’t have to define you, but it will change you. You may not want it to, but it will.
Remember that you, and only you, will be ready when you feel it. You will be happy again. You will learn to live again. Broken crayons still color, and I am here to say that I am living proof that life has knocked me down 8 times, but here I am standing up for the 9th time, proof that broken crayons still color, and that you will be happy again. I promise.