The Incomparable Pain of Losing a Parent as an Adult.
I need to apologize for something, and I’ll tell you why.
My mother died when I was 12 years old, which was 30 years ago. Since my mom did die so early, this means she missed out on a lot of my life.
She missed going to the mall to buy me my first bra, she missed being there to experience my first period, she missed attending my high school graduation, she missed my college graduation, she missed my wedding, she missed the birth of her only grandchild, she missed staying with me after I brought my daughter home from the hospital, which is when I really needed her the most.
She also missed being there for me during my divorce, which would be the second time I needed her the most. Those events are the big events. She missed out on so much more. She missed out on dealing with a moody, angry teenager who would turn into a kind adult who would cherish a friendship with her mother. She missed out on being there when I got my heart crushed by a boyfriend.
She missed out on the mundane of my life, the new careers, and funny stories. All of it. My mom has missed every single thing that has happened in my life for the past 30 years!
And this is why, as I got older, when I would hear of someone losing a parent when they were an adult, I would get sad, but I was also kind of resentful, and had the mindset that they should just get over it. At least they had their parent for the graduations, the weddings, the grandchildren. They had their parent for all of it!
Well, now the tables have turned. I lost my father at 43, and I need to apologize. The loss of my father has been devastating, soul-crushing, and at times, unbearable. And you know why?
Because he was there to buy my first bra, he was there to buy me pads when I started my period. He was there at my high school graduation, he was there when I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree, and many years later, he was there when I graduated with my Master’s Degree. He was there for me every single time I needed him. Every single time.
He was at my wedding, he was there when my daughter was born, and he was the one that stayed with me the weekend after I brought her home from the hospital. He came to every one of her birthday parties. He was there for me when I was getting a divorce. And now he will never be there again. And this is what’s unbearable.
I get it; I get it why it’s so sad and horrible to lose your parent as an adult. It’s because they were there to experience it all. Your parent, the person who has known you the longest, was there for every milestone you ever had. Sometimes in life one fully doesn’t grasp something until one experiences it. That is true for me in many instances, but especially true when it comes to the loss of a parent.
It’s never easy, I always knew that. But, for some strange reason, I didn’t think it would be as hard to lose a parent as an adult. I thought losing a parent as a child would be the most soul-crushing loss one can experience. I am here to tell you that it’s not. It’s not easy, not by any means. But it’s as if you’re comparing apples and oranges. One loss isn’t harder than the other.
When my dad died suddenly after a short illness, instead of being able to grieve, I had to work on his obituary and schedule a Celebration of Life. I had to go through pictures and create a slideshow. I had to order food. I had to figure out decorations. This is not something I wanted to do while I was in shock and such sorrow after losing my dad. What I wanted to do was crawl into bed, and not get out for days.
I wanted to curse and scream, and ask why my dad, who was the most amazing, positive person you could ever meet, had to die two days after his 69th birthday.
When my mom died when I was a child, I didn’t have to worry about the obituary, the service or the food that would be served there. I had to worry about how I would manage without such a prominent figure and role model, while I entered what could be some of the most difficult years of my life, even with both of your parents alive and well.
There is no comparison, absolutely none.
They both hurt like a motherfucker.
Stefany Phillips is a 40-something recent divorcee with a young daughter, who is trying to navigate her way through this game we call Life in the most positive way she can. Red wine, laughter, friends and the Oprah channel also help. Stefany recently started living what Brené Brown calls a life of vulnerability, and since starting to do so, she has never been more scared or happy in her life. When Stefany is not with her daughter, she enjoys reading, volunteering with the homeless, and spending time with her girlfriends whom she has known since childhood. You could contact Stefany via her blog or Facebook.