However much they want and try to help us, it’s an experience we sadly have to journey through alone, but I do think it ends up making us so much stronger eventually (or I’m fervently hoping so, at least!). It was always my biggest fear that I would lose my dad too – but there was a part of me that didn’t truly believe that could happen, after all, I had lost my mom already, life wouldn’t be so unfair and what were the odds anyway? Im 27 and this has by far been the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. The vast majority of us will have to face the death of our parents: I’ve just been dealt it earlier in life than most. Not the case. An amazing article which must have taken a lot to write. It is good to be in the company of those who understand the feeling of being an adult orphan. I mean this in both a mental and a physical sense. I did though find one great book, When Parents Die by Rebecca Abrams. I lost my father my freshman year of high school it that was expected but so hard. Hello Flora, i lost my father 3 years ago, i dreamed about him last night and it feels like hes sitting just right beside me. To lose both of your parents before you ever really got to know either of them is one of the worst possible things to have to deal with. So the grieving didnt really start till then, for both……. She was an actress, and occasionally I see someone on the TV screen who could so easily be my mum (with a little squinting) that I can barely breathe. Oh I’m so sorry Kei. Subscribe to Flora the Explorer and get new posts sent straight to your inbox! Now the practical things like sorting the estate, bills, what to do with family cars, sorting his business are all starting to become issues that are needing to be addressed. It’s been a shock (and a bit exhausting!) My mum was everything to me, my best friend and while I feel lucky I had that kind of relationship with her, it hurts all the more. Are there any suggestions please? Back then, I didn’t know about displaced emotion. This is a really difficult time – understanding that loss and grief is on the horizon, but not knowing exactly when or how much of it to expect. Hi Sarah, I got married recently, February 16th, 2019. Izuu, thank you so much for this! You’re helping to change that too Much love to you and Mrs E <3. It’s hard taking on this new identity as a orphaned adult. I didn’t understand what had happened, and neither did my dad. My issue with therapy (which people often neglect to tell you) is there’s no guarantee that the first therapist you meet should be the one you stick with. It may even seem like you are … of two very different very awful diseases, I was 30. In these cases, both issues can be addressed simultaneously at a dual diagnosis drug rehab center. I also wish anyone on the journey of loss and grief reading Flora’s helpful and insightful article the best with the loss that they are going through. It was so unexpected and equally as hard. During my years of long-term travel my Dad and I would email all the time, so I have a vast collection of our correspondence which I’ve put into its own folder. Grief is such an emotional event that your mind is totally thrown off course. Thank you. But what happens when a child loses one or both parents before reaching adulthood? The good memories are more so from before she was diagnosed with cancer. I cried reading this for I can relate. My mam was my best friend, always positive & happy but when she passed I promised her I would care for Dad. Such a beautiful article you write up and always loved your post! Losing a parent in childhood only increases these odds, and about one in 20 children aged 15 and younger have suffered the loss of one or both parents. It’s a bizarre sensation: barely there for weeks on end and then suddenly, one day, BAM! Part memoir, part guide, it’s the book I needed when my parents died. It sneaks suddenly around corners and reduces you to tears in seconds. We became sisters, in the truest, oldest sense of the word – and that’s exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for. The world goes topsy-turvy. I truly understand how you feel as i witnessed brfbefmy very eyes my giving up on life gradually after I Lost my mum in 2013 to a sudden and fatal heart attack, I was 20 years old and devastated. I find myself looking for articles like this more and more often– I’m only 23, my father has cancer and may not have much time left, and my mother may not have enough fortitude to survive for long after she loses him. But I also have keys to the house of the family I grew up with. Yet during this past week, spent on retreat at @quarterlifehealthproject, I honestly feel that my life has changed. I know it might feel like you have to be constantly ready and prepared but the strange thing about grief is that it always behaves differently to how we think it will! During a few big crying sessions I’ve managed to put a jacket on and walk around the block while it was raining – which was strangely satisfying while tears still rolled down my face. Tonight was one of those nights. So when you feel yourself getting more upset from looking at a screen, get rid of it. It was quick and brutal: the time from terminal diagnosis to her death was just two weeks. She truly was my best friend, to the extent that I never really had those super-close friendships with girls around me. It can be scary, all-encompassing, overwhelming – a whole host of buzzwords which never quite fit, and also WHO CARES because you can’t believe what’s happening to you. Xxxxxx, Thanks so much my darling <3 You know how much you've helped me through this process too, purely by being supportive of everything I say & do. Sharing your own support techniques, being completely honest and just talking about this openly will help so many people who are perhaps going through this silently, or without support. Last year has been a terrible nightmare for me. My siblings and I are all in our 20s, the eldest being 26 so we’re all extremely young to have lost our parents. Eyes closed, heart open, soul ready For a long time, I’ve felt as if something was missing in my life. I’ve left my Job in Edinburgh and come back to our family home where now only me, my sister and dog reside. February 7th, 2015 at 2:40 PM . So. She was the best grandma ever, to them, and they have been having a rough time with it. I was also 20 years old when I lost her (I’m 30 now) and very much in a similar way. That’s usually when the phone rings and you hear a grieving voice say, “Oh darling, how ARE you…”. Get married in August and have no idea how to deal with this. This is truly an amazing post…. Not really. Thanks so much for always being such a championing force in my life, Mike . I’m here for you. At a time when you’re not too upset, tell them that when you send a text saying, “I’m not OK”, you really need an urgent response. As a member of the DPC and an adult orphan (having lost my parents within less than a year of each other) this really touched me. I did not have a very supportive family situation going in to any of this but you aure correct… grief and loss is not what defines me and I am entitled to feeling my feelings. In some ways, life can get better. Your article is being bookmarked so I can read again and again because right now I don’t think I can remember it even though reading it felt right and you’re inspirational. Such true words. Dear Flora, thank you so much for this article. Via Facebook, I’ve reached out to girls my mum was at boarding school with and been told stories and sent old photos in return. Maybe my so much loved Nana leaving us right before Mum died, to live in a different state could contribute to the way I feel like it's difficult to trust and love wholly with anyone other than my 3 beautiful children and 1 grand child!! If you’re one of the few that’s lost a parent so early in life, then you have gone through something … You know you just inspired me, through my extremely deep grief to write down a lot of the things I have been going through. (or it did for me, at least). But you are your own person, irrespective of this terrible loss you’ve suffered. The centre cannot hold so I’m taking bits from the periphery and bulding an entirely new centre that is designed to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do. The best thing to do is try and ride them out, knowing they’ll eventually subside. Too much attention on him. With all this time to think, it Made me want to pick up traveling and to start my on blogging adventure. My father died, suddenly and unexpectedly, at the age of 79. Thank you for sharing this, it takes a special kind of strength and bravery to do so. All the people who knew all those little things about me and had all the stories about me growing up are gone. And it was, in a way, comforting to know Im not the only one in this world going through this. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I will take that for now. When I’ve had inadvertent arguments with supermarket staff who are oblivious to the reason why I’m getting stressed over scanning food at the till, I half-wish that mourning garb was still a custom today. Thanks so much for reading, and for sharing your story, Helena. It will help people NO end and I love you for writing it. For the first time, I both witnessed and was intrinsically part of the sheer power which comes from a group of fiercely vulnerable women sharing their stories and emotions with complete openness and honesty. I grew up fast and went into survival mode and have made a decent life for myself. My biggest realisation through the aftermath of two deaths is to listen to your body. Her work may comfort you, as it has me). Thanks Flora for your posting and such a wonderful and beautiful read, Ian, Ian, I wish you knew how special it is to hear from those who knew both my parents like you did I’m so sorry that you lost your mum this year – but I do recognise that sense of someone’s passing being a rite of passage; an unavoidable and actually somewhat beautiful event. Read her letter to her family home, and her post about losing both her parents before her 30th birthday. Losing both parents. But I was not devastated, and the mild grief I experienced passed in a relatively short time. I can hardly see the keys to write this. My mother died quite suddenly when I was 19, my father was just killed in a tragic car accident 2 weeks ago. However, if all these factors happen at once, you might think you’re going mad. How to handle a loss without saying goodbye. One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve heard about the grieving process is that it’s yours, and yours alone. Nobody can relate so I searched to find someone who could. I simply want to say thank you. It may not feel like much has changed straight afterwards but writing is undoubtedly a cathartic act, and I know from my own scribblings that it’s immensely comforting to read back through it after a few months, or even years. After all, it happens to everyone and is expected, especially if they are aging. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. I’d recommend backing up their photos, phones, email accounts and anything else tech-related onto external hard-drives. For ten minutes, script writers and cast actively want their viewer to be crying (whether at the scene or at your own personal issues), but then the scene changes and suddenly my sadness lifts again. Same with funeral readings: I knew I wanted to do my dad’s eulogy and knew who should do the readings but I didn’t know what – so I just asked them to decide. You’re right – nobody seems to talk about how downright exhausting grief can be! Memories are gold. Thank you for this. It will happen in the future though, 100%! There have been so many days that I’ve barely moved from bed/the house because it’s simply too much effort for my body and mind to handle. It's a scary thought that if/when I end up marrying someone they won't know my parents, so I'm so sad that you've had to feel this same sense of being cheated. My ability to buy groceries, much less cook them, went totally out of the window – but I gave myself a complete free pass. The Seismic Shift of Losing Both Parents However the end comes, you can't know just how it will feel to be the child left behind. My mum died when I was 12 to cancer and at the start of October this year, my dad who has been my everything since my mother passes died unexpectedly to a heart attack. Reading this has been such a relief. And you’re absolutely not alone, I promise , Just read this today, I am a year on from losing my mum, lost my dad a few years ago. I don’t feel any better because my pain is totally deep. Hi Flora, I’m 30 now, and sometimes it really feels like a howling train is taking rounds barreling into my chest. There are also grief support groups that can help people feel less isolated in their loss. Also known as persistent complex bereavement disorder, this more protracted form of grief is usually marked by emotions so severe, painful, and long-lasting that a person cannot seem to accept the loss and move forward to resume life, even many months or years afterward. A family therapist can help address old and new conflicts, and teach constructive ways to heal relationships and resolve problems. Perhaps check your facts before commenting next time? Hi, Flora. This is just a small part of my own journey through grief. I assumed it wouldn’t. If you ever need anything Kasha and I are always here and our door is always open to you x, Aww Chris, thanks so much for your lovely comment! But I will literally NEVER forget the last few days of her life. I want to thank you so much for this beautifully written and emotional piece. In December there was a discussion between various ‘young orphans’ on twitter and a group of us started a WhatsApp group – we’ve now got about 50 people aged around 30 and younger chatting and supporting each other! Grief is lethargic. Crying is a cathartic experience, but like an animal in pain, I’m very conscious that for me to fully exorcise this intensity of grieving and mourning, it NEEDS to happen in private. Get strong, do what needs to be done, remake your centre – and get out there and do the impossible things. I unfortunately do not have a family home to go back to or very many if any of my parents possessions as I live a world away from anything that was theirs and I cannot get back there anytime soon. This was a very helpful read. I don’t know how long ago you lost your parents but as someone who’s successfully coped without their mum for a decade now, I promise that you’ll start to feel better eventually. Have you consider turning this into a book. Moreover, I know deep down that both my beautiful, hilarious, ever-loving parents would hate their deaths to affect me so negatively. It’s such a difficult and uncertain time when you’re anticipating someone’s death – it’s like you’re stuck in limbo, unable to properly start the grieving process but already totally outside your ‘normal’ life. Sending love your way xx, Thanks for this. I hope I won’t need your advice anytime soon, but I’m going to bookmark your post for that inevitable “someday” — and I can tell you already I will be grateful beyond words. How many children are bereaved of a parent each year? My dad injured his leg a few days before my wedding and reception as hospitalised. She passed away 3 days later. I’m so sorry to hear about your mum, Michelle. At the time I just started a new career so I could only take 4 days off for bereavement. But if you need to chat, I'm always here Sending lots of love to you xxx, I’m so sorry Neha – the lack of control is something that’s affected me a lot. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s been ‘long enough’. X. Hello Flora, my mother passed a few weeks ago and I lost my father 12 years ago. Yeah, cancer again. My best friend unknowingly echoed this one day when I was panicking at an Underground station. It’s fantastic that you’re researching how to help your wife through her bereavement – it means so much when your partner is committed to supporting you. Thank you so much! Like everything with grief, your desire to talk about it can change from moment to moment. Just avoid looking at your bank balance for a while (and when you do, remember it’s just money. Last week, within hours of each other, the two died from Covid-19 . I’m really struggling, but after reading this I feel connected. You’re totally right though – over the years, we get the chance to re-form our grief into something a bit more palatable, but I think by that point we’ve become so accustomed to the sheer weight of grief that it doesn’t seem possible to relieve the pressure a bit. And you’re absolutely going to get through this. I lost my father when I was 11 and my mother less than a month ago on November 16th. A lack of control was a huge thing for me, because I hadn’t been able to control my mum dying. It just keeps hitting me. You’ll get through it, I promise – even though it won’t feel like it right now. Sending you lots of love and strength xx. It is a right of passage, not easy but a journey which we must embrace as the natural cycle of life. My mum has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and my dad is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, so I’m facing the reality of losing both parents very soon. You can barely move for the enormity of it; can barely breathe for crying; can’t imagine how you ever felt OK before this. I have been relying on my friend white wine for the last couple of months but I know it’s not really my friend. Dear Flora, thank you so much for your very personal and inspirational sharing. Thanks for this. Sometimes I feel nothing at all, often I forget she’s dead. That’s not entirely true and I know it, but that’s how I feel. Most people will experience the loss of their mother or father in their lifetime. But losing your parents, inheriting shit, planning funerals, feeling awkward during Thanksgiving -- all that is just part of life. I absolutely loved and adored my mom and everyone who came in contact with me knew how close we were. Your blog has made me feel so much better for some of the odd ways I’ve felt. I promise you that those troughs will get shallower; they’ll occur less often, and you’ll eventually feel less overwhelmed by them. I’m so proud of you for searching out help. I am still regularly purchasing things to make my home nicer or cosier or that reminds me of happier times. I seemed to have always suffered from one illness or another and could never play with the other children as I so desperately wanted to. A therapist told me that grief is traumatic on a cellular level. I really appreciate this line: "I felt like my anchor to my identity was what had been severed." I couldn’t: it was too raw, and too painful. Yet lately, we have been the ones attending funerals for our friends' parents. Thank you for sharing, it has made me feel less broken and less alone in this “orphan” stage in my life. Another factor that influences the development of mental health issues is the person's perception of their closeness to the deceased and how much the loss changes their lives. Losing a loved one is a difficult thing to go through. I am reading: With The End In Mind: Death, dying in an age of denial, by Dr Katherine Mannix, a palliative care doctor and it is such an informative read in this age of death denial where we talk about the close realtives who have passed or lost when in fact what we mean is that they are dead and no more. Please try to not let your grief define you. Wow!! Fast forward eight years to March 2017, when my dad’s lung fibrosis got so bad he stayed in hospital for a month and had a pacemaker fitted. She was taken so suddenly from me after a cardiac arrest, after being healthy and strong as far as I knew. Really sensitive especially since dad was allowed the time to go away on holiday to have his nervous breakdown and get over her!! They’re able to share the emotional weight of supporting me, and they can buoy me up in ways I don’t expect. Thank you so much for writing this, even though it’s been over 2 whole years since you did so. I am literally lost without both of them but reading your blog has given me a little bit of hope. Grief and Loss: Will Therapists Be Able to Help. Losing a parent is never easy, no matter how old we are, but losing both of them before 30 can be a real tragedy. I am feeling so much anger at times that my chest hurts! I just wanted to thank you for writing this down and making it available for me to find. At first the troughs last way longer and the peaks are tiny moments, but gradually you’ll have longer peaks and shorter troughs. I was devastated. Sending you lots of love xxxx, (just realised I also replied to your other comment just below this – but I still mean what I've said in both!). They know and love me in a different way to my parents. She was a smiler and hugger and I suspect she turned John into one. So in the past week I’ve started cleaning out my mam and dads home. They’re absolute gold dust. For me, it’s felt really healthy to hear about death from multiple perspectives – and it’s got me out of the house on the days when I felt I otherwise couldn’t leave. But I’m hopeful that things work out the way they should, and happiness for all of us is on its way eventually . I’ve written a book about grief, loss and becoming an orphan. I don’t know anyone my age who has lost both parents, and my closest friends are all lucky to never have lost anyone that close to them. Ive battled depression for most of my adult life and anxiety added to the mix when my Father passed away. xx, […] Further ReadingMy friend Flora has been dealing with the death of her father, and writing heartbreakingly well about it. I’ve also had so many intense, personal and vulnerable conversations with people I’ve met mere moments before, simply because I learn they’re members of the DPC too. It will save you lots of embarassment. But I’m really glad you found this article and that it helped to read about an experience so similar to your own. Our minds go through trauma after a death, so it makes sense that our bodies do too. I’ve stop-started Couch to 5k multiple times, but even if I hate the idea of getting into running clothes and reaching the park, I do feel happier once I’m actually moving my feet. But they’re my friends for a reason. How Much Are You Willing to Sacrifice for Your Relationship? It has an insatiable appetite. Why are so many people drawn to conspiracy theories in times of crisis? I have never commented on a blog before but so much of what you have written rings true with me and I just felt I had to say thank you for sharing your experiences. I never be alone long enough to cry out loud and I really feel I need to. Shit is definitely getting real. Sending you love xx. Family counseling can also help. Today I googled “losing both parents” and your article came up first. I feel so alone and so broken and in such a dark place at the moment. If you’re a fundamentally sociable person, being around your friends and family as much as possible is a wonderful way to minimise some of the grief. This is the second time I’ve been to this piece in the past… week? Thank you for your courage in writing this, it lets me know I’m not alone. – Dealing with Christmas when you’re grieving, – Staying close to those you’ve lost by using their possessions, – Self care strategies for your mental health, – How to break the taboo of talking about death, The Self Care Strategies I Use to Improve my Mental Health, Lessons Learned from 200 Hours of Teaching English Abroad, who’s currently writing about the loss of her fiancé, Home Is What's Left Of You • Fevered Mutterings, How I Cope With The Loss of My Parents at Christmas, The Best Books I've Read To Help With Grief And Loss, Getting a death certificate from a doctor, Registering the death at the local registry office, Deciding whether or not to see ‘the body’, Finding a funeral director (and paying them a huge amount of money), Choosing a funeral date & time and telling everyone, Contacting the banks and utility providers to let them know, Open casket or not? , this split losing both parents before 40 will likely colour everything you ’ re going to like! 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