Losing A Parent In My 20s Taught Me That Grief Isn't Something You Should Run From
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Losing A Parent At 20 Taught Me That Grief Isn't Something You Should Run From

When they say you find out who your true friends are during the hard times, you may never hear a truer statement.

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Losing A Parent At 20 Taught Me That Grief Isn't Something You Should Run From

My dad passed away when I was 20.

Being in your twenties is such a difficult time, but losing a parent, too? Yeah, it is awful.

I found myself searching the internet to find stories from other people to get a sense of what they were going through, thinking that could help me, right? No.

The first article I found was of a woman who was 20, she lost both of her parents within a month. I was totally freaked out. Here I am, dealing with the shock, thinking I may lose my mom next.

I finally came to realization that this is someone else's story, not mine. It was so helpful to know that I am not the only one who has felt this way. I mean, losing my dad was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever been through and I think it is human nature to seek others who have experienced something similar.

I suppose that is why I am writing this too. To help others, as well as myself.

When I found out, I was in complete shock and denial. I can not explain the numb feeling I had, but I can explain my thoughts. I remember them vividly.

I was living in Arizona at the time, so being far away from home was hard enough. I was on the plane and had a layover in Denver to get my connecting flight from Arizona back to Iowa. When I was getting on the plane, I knew he was in stable but critical condition.

I remember telling my sister, "Dad will be fine, he fought West Nile, we can do this, he will be OK."

I landed in Denver. When I switched my phone off of airplane mode, a call from my mom's friend came through first. She asked me if I had spoken to my mom yet. I had not.

She told me to call her, and we hung up.

I got a hold of my mom, but I was not off the plane yet. I was on my knees in the very back of the plane, waiting to exit, crying hysterically. I remember asking my mom if she was kidding. Not that she would really kid about this... I was just in such a state of shock and disbelief.

The thoughts running through my head on my flight home were very weird.

The first thing I thought about was my wedding. It is every girl's dream to be handed off to the man she loves by her dad. At least that was my perfect dream.

I had always thought about my wedding, how perfect it was going to be and now all of a sudden it is completely ruined? How the Hell did this happen?

Then, I thought about my kids. They will not get the chance to meet their grandfather.

At the time, I was in a very serious relationship but was not close to either of these yet. They were the first thoughts to roll into my mind while on the plane crying my eyes out going through all of the cheap napkins the flight attendants gave me.

When I was on my way home to meet my mom and sister, I did not want to face it. I didn't want to face them.

I was so scared. It was night time so everyone had gone home leaving my sister, mom and I. My room was in Arizona, so I slept on the couch. I guess I would not call that sleeping, I did not sleep for weeks. People were at our house from sun up to sun down.

The next few days were filled with people coming over and bringing food, giving their condolences, offering their support.

Our first viewing of Dad, my God was I scared. I almost did not go into the room. That was the hardest thing I have ever done.

Then came the funeral.

When we were with the pastor discussing the funeral arrangements, we decided we needed someone to speak at the funeral in during the proceedings. While I was in college, my dad always told me to be an advocate for myself.

I volunteered to speak at the funeral.

I don't remember the funeral much, but I remember speaking. I remember my entire body shaking and giving every last ounce of effort I had to speak.

After the funeral is when reality hit the hardest.

Having to move on seemed impossible, and I still have not two and a half years later. I moved back home and tried to figure out what my next move was. I was worried about my mom all the time. I changed my schedule all the time around hers. I did not want her to be alone.

I did not want her to be sad, but that was impossible. I just wanted to be there for her at any moment that she happened to need me. I have gotten a lot better about this. When they say you find out who your true friends are during the hard times, you may never hear a truer statement. I have the greatest friends who were and still are there for me to this day.

Grief. We have all heard that word and we have all experienced it in some sort of way.

I will never truly stop grieving over the loss of my dad. I mean, he was my dad.

That is the man who was supposed to drink my first legal beer with me when I turned 21 with. That was the man who was supposed to give the man I love a hard time and give away too. That was the man who was supposed to be there for when I have babies. That was the man who taught me everything and anything I could possibly know about cows, and much much much more.

Grief has affected me so strangely.

This is something that I have tried to research a lot, and still do today. "Am I supposed to feel like this?" I keep typing into the search bar.

The one thing I know grief has affected are my relationships with others. I find myself avoiding new connections with people. Why? Probably because grief has filled my heart with so much hurt that I feel there isn't any room left in there. Weird, I know, but it feels like reality.

I've heard grief described as "an ocean full of waves." Typical. For me, it's different. I am happy ALL THE TIME, literally. I am just a happy soul. But the grief is constant, too. I could be with my friends at the bar and the minute I get into my car I am a sobbing mess.

It never goes away and at this point, I do not think it will.

If you are still reading this, I'm sorry for everything. The main reason I wrote this is to show that those who lose a parent at a young age, every story is different.

How you are feeling is okay and totally normal.

Anything and everything makes me think of my dad and I have gotten to the point if this happens in public then I just try to find the joy in it. The process sucks and it will feel stupid and unfair. But, you will get there. To whatever point that is, you'll get there.

I remember searching online for stories like mine, searching for answers, and now I suppose that this post may be where someone like me stops their own search.

Connect with yourself and talk with your friends about the way you are feeling. They are not going to have the answers because, well, they probably have not experienced it. The listening ears will be the most important and knowing you have someone there will help tremendously.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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