How Losing A Parent Affects A Young Adult's Everyday Life

How Losing A Parent Affects A Young Adult's Everyday Life

The loss of a parent changes every aspect of your young life.
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Over the past few weeks, an Odyssey article circulated the internet called "What You Learn After Losing A Parent At A Young Age," and if you haven’t checked it out, I highly suggest giving it a read. The article acknowledges lessons that the loss of a parent has taught young people all over the world. What it doesn’t talk about, though, is how that loss impacts your everyday life. Losing a parent as a young adult is a tragic event that I wouldn’t even wish upon my worst enemy and that loss has changed my life in ways that I never expected.

An 18-year-old will cope with loss much different than a 25-year-old or a 30-year-old. Eighteen-year-olds might turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. They might push away everyone who has been there for them. They might throw themselves into projects or work to try to distract from their reality. Nobody talks about what happens to the young people after the first month or two without their parent. Nobody asks the 18-year-old what it was like to walk across the stage at graduation without hearing your mom screaming, “That’s my girl” from the stands.

College freshmen are moving into dorms and they’d give up anything to have that annoying parent begging to put their clothes away for them. They’re participating in a diversity exercise during orientation and their orientation leader says “Stand if you have lost one or both of your parents.” and they find that they are the only one in their orientation group who has dealt with this kind of loss. They might be having boy troubles and automatically dial mom’s number to vent and ask for advice before reality hits.

Your life is different in ways you didn’t even notice. It’s singing “Drink A Beer” at the top of your lungs at a Luke Bryan show and hoping your best friend doesn’t see your tears. It’s binge watching "Grey’s Anatomy" in your room on a Friday and bawling because a mom just died of heart disease on the show. It’s listening to your parent’s favorite song when you’re having a bad day or unintentionally reaching for their favorite ice cream flavor because at some point it became your favorite, too. It's being afraid to be sad because it's been a year since they passed and you should be over it by now. It’s wearing her favorite ring every day or hanging his favorite hat from your rear view mirror, just because. It’s seeing a butterfly fly by and wondering if they’re still with you. It’s sitting at Thanksgiving dinner with only half your family because no one seems to be able to get along since they passed. It’s baking cookies on her birthday because she would’ve asked you to. It’s getting a tattoo in their memory.

It’s the little things in life that change in big ways. It’s the things that nobody realizes that affect you the most. Losing a parent is more than just losing a family member. It’s losing a part of you, but also gaining a part of them.

Cover Image Credit: Sarah Pimble

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Blocking Toxic Family Members Can Be Just What You Needed

It isn't an easy choice but it can be the most rewarding.

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I haven't written for the Odyssey in quite some time due to this large issue in my life that I feel some people may also need to hear. Watching your parents go through a divorce can be difficult in itself, but what about having to remove one of your parents from your life at the same time? It's something I don't think many people could imagine doing. However, sometimes you are forced into the position between choosing what is best for your mental health or what is expected of you. For me, I realized that I needed to put myself first.

I realized that I am my own person. How I present myself and how I act and what I choose to believe in is how the world perceives me. I was faced with a parent who did not let me be who I am. The way I thought had to be in line with theirs. What I openly spoke about had to be in line with that parent's thoughts. This also, in turn, meant I had to revolve how I was perceived to the world around that parent's family. I had to abide by these societal norms and do what someone else expected of me. I realized that was ludicrous.

This parent was also abusive. They were toxic and manipulative and I could not stand idly by and just take that from them while also trying to become an independent young adult. I was forced to sit and watch one of my parents transform into someone I didn't recognize anymore. I had to watch them ignore any kind of reality checks and continue to feign innocence. I watched one of my parents mentally manipulate people I once called family into believing lies. I kept my head down and shut my mouth and kept taking the abuse. Now I'm at a point where I can confidently say that I am no longer afraid.

I was forced to cut ties with a parent that raised me, cared for me, attended school functions, fixed toys, bought me my first phone. I was forced to chuck out priceless memories for my own sanity. I could not sit idly by and allow myself to endure one more second of lies or abuse. I had to stand up for myself for once in my life and I blocked most of my family. I blocked cousins, aunts, uncles, and godparents. I changed my phone number that I had since 6th grade. I gave no warning and disappeared from my family's lives. Do I have regrets? No. I would do it again if I had to because I am so much stronger than sitting there and taking it.

I will have one less parent at my college graduation, which I am fighting so hard to achieve. I will have one less parent at my wedding. My future children will have one less grandparent. I mope in these thoughts but then I have to remember the other side of things. I will not have an unsupportive parent at my graduation and instead will have those that were there every step of the way. I will lack someone who was toxic at my wedding. My future children will never have to face the same abusive, toxic situations that my parent put me through. It was a difficult decision to make but one that I know in my heart is worthwhile.

Cutting a family member out of your life is difficult enough but cutting a parent is unimaginable. However, no one deserves to go through abusive situations. It shouldn't matter who the person is; if someone is treating you less than you deserve to be treated, they have no use being in your life. You should always be your first priority. You should never have to endure something for the sake of others. I am here to tell you that you are more than that and that cutting out a family member could actually be the best thing for you, even if it's incredibly difficult. I did it and I'm still here. It made me realize who my real family was, and there will never be enough thank you's in the world to show my mother just how much I appreciate her.

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