What You Learn After Losing A Parent At A Young Age

What You Learn After Losing A Parent At A Young Age

I will carry the weight of this tragedy around with me for the rest of my life, and the lessons I have gained because of it.
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One year ago today my entire world was shattered with the news that my mother had passed . Something so traumatic completely changes who you are and how you view the world. I was just shy of 21 with two younger sisters, all now motherless, forced to continue experiencing life without the one parent we always had. It has been a year of gut-wrenching pain and heartache; a year I would never want to experience again. But through this experience I have gained many hard learned lessons that I will carry with me for a lifetime.

Many adults that have recently lost their parents will tell you they know what you’re going through, they don’t.

Nothing has made me cringe more than when a full grown adult tells me they completely understand what I’m going through, and that they’re there for me. Your parents were able to see you grow into an adult, watch you get married, or meet your kids. My mother missed my sister’s wedding, my mother won’t see me graduate from college, or help my youngest sister get through high school- never mind watch her graduate it. So please don’t equate the situation, you have no idea what I’m going through. I’ve learned that they say this to show sympathy, and that sympathy is great and all, but the statement carries so much ignorance.Which brings me to my next point...

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Celebrate A Lost Loved One's Birthday

People that haven't experienced this yet just don't get it, and that's not their fault.

In the beginning, I spent months being bitter because people just didn’t get it; they couldn’t empathize or understand what I was going through, what I felt, what I needed- no matter how hard they tried. But then I realized it wasn’t their fault, and I should be happy they don’t understand – no matter how hard it was for me to accept it. I would never wish this experience on absolutely anyone, and I am grateful that people my age, my sisters ages, have never had to experience this kind of pain.

People really do use those cliché phrases.

In these types of situations everyone always says things like "they're in a better place", "they're watching over you", etc., and it sucks. It’s the last things you want to hear. Don’t tell me they’re in a better place, because if they were in a better place they’d be here with me and my family. I don’t want you to tell me they’re watching over me, because it’s not the same as having them in front of me and hearing their voice or laugh. I know these people mean well when they say these things, but it just hurts more.

I HATE when people complain about their parents to me, because at least they have them.

I cannot emphasize how much I hate this, how much it makes my stomach turn and my heart ache. I would give anything to have my mom yelling at me, or asking me to borrow a couple bucks. I would give anything for my mom to give me a hard time again, or want to spend time with me instead of having me go out. When people complain to me about their parents, it makes me mad that they can’t appreciate the love and care that their parents are giving them. They aren’t appreciating the fact that they still have parents and have that bond with them. I would give anything to trade places with them, and therefore I can’t EVER sympathize with their complaints.

You learn who’s real.

Despite the people that say or do the wrong things, you learn who really cares about you and who really is there. They say a tragedy always shows you who your real friends are, and this couldn’t be more true in this situation. Many people can't handle this difficult tragedy, and end up walking away from you. Let them. They aren’t good enough to be there if they can’t find the strength to stay for you and support you. It’s difficult to accept, because it’s at a time when you need all the love and support you can get, but with time you learn to let go and realize it’s for the best.

Holidays and important life events will NEVER be the same.

The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone, but this experience has changed the meaning of them forever. Not only are the traditions you held with your parents gone, but you’re also left with the emptiness that their absence left behind. Now you forever wonder what things would be like if they were there, and you wish that they were. The holidays now carry a gloom, an emptiness that will never be filled. It also causes the memories of the past holidays and traditions to be brought to the surface, opening back up the pain of what used to be. It reminds you that you would do anything to have it back. The people around you are filled with the holiday cheer, unaware that these days bring you and your family so much pain.

It’s okay to not be okay.

I’ve been through my fair share of life obstacles, but I’ve always maintained the mantra that things we’re fine. However, when this earth-shattering experience happened, I couldn’t uphold that feeling anymore. I couldn’t be okay, no matter how hard I tried. I learned to accept that, I learned that it was okay to admit that I was in pain, that I wasn’t okay. I learned how to express this to people, without feeling judged. A lesson that wasn’t easy.

It’s okay to put your needs first.

After experiencing this loss, this pain, you become empty and unable to offer much. You begin to realize that you can’t be as supportive and selfless towards others because you’re using all the energy you have on getting through the day. You have to learn to understand and accept that you have to take care of yourself before you can offer anything to another person.

Sometimes you need a push.

Despite how hard you are trying to get through this, there are going to be bad days that you can’t get through alone. Sometimes you need a friend to motivate you to study for that exam or go to class. Sometimes you need someone to pull you out of bed, and give you the motivation and strength you need to face the day. And that’s fine, appreciate the people in your life that recognize this and do this for you, no matter how much it drives you crazy at the time.

The bonds between loved ones grow stronger.

No one else understands what you’re going through, which means the people that do understand become so much more important. They are the only people in the world that understand what you have lost, and the weight you now have to carry around with you. Not only that, but you now under how easy it could be to lose someone because you already lost someone so important to you. It makes you cherish the people you have more than ever before, and it makes you want to hold onto them stronger. The loss demonstrates how important the people in your life are to you.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things To Know Before Dating Someone Who Lost A Parent

You worry about everything, all the time.

Life has now taught you that losing someone can happen in the blink of an eye. This makes you worried and paranoid about all the things that can happen to the people closest to you. When someone is supposed to come over and doesn’t, you worry. When someone doesn’t answer their phone, you worry. You instantly start thinking about worst case scenarios, and everything that could have gone wrong. And the relief you feel when you finally hear from them is unexplainable. You know you worry too much, and deep down you know they’re probably fine, but you still can’t stop yourself. The potential of losing someone else closest to you is too much to bare again, and you know the risk is always there. Your loved ones may get annoyed, or feel like you’re overbearing, but at least they know you care about them.

You become more affectionate and attached.

You don’t want to lose the people that are still in your life, so you become more attached to them. You want to show them how much they mean to you, remind them all the time. I can’t explain the feeling unless you’ve experienced this, but once you do it makes you want to hold on to the people around you tighter, makes you want to show them how important they are to you. It makes you need the affection and love from these people to help you heal from what you have lost, to remind yourself that there are still people in your life that are important and that care about you. That there are still reasons to keep living.

It makes you choose your words more carefully.

You know now how important last words are, whether your last words to your parents were good or bad, you understand the weight it holds and the importance it has. It makes you more aware of how you speak to your loved ones. It makes you say “I love you” before you say goodbye, no matter how angry you are at them. Because if this is the last time you talk to them, you want to make sure they know. You want them to always know how you feel about them and that you love them. You make sure you tell them all the time how much they mean to you and how much you need or appreciate them. Even when you’re angry you’re aware of how far you can or can’t take your words. That small painful reminder is always in the back of your head about how important words are.

You learn to not waste time.

You now understand that life is not forever, how time is always ticking away. This teaches you to not take anything less than you deserve, and to never waste time. It makes you more honest and upfront with people because you understand there’s no point in wasting anyone’s time being anything less. You have lost and overcome something unbelievably important, which means you won’t settle for anything less than you deserve. You now realize how important your time and life is. You won’t waste it on something or someone that doesn’t measure up.

You live life more...

...because you understand how quickly life can disappear. After losing your parent, you sit there and reminisce on all the lost chances and times you could have had with them. You would give anything to have one more road trip, adventure, or even simply a dinner with them. This makes you more apt to agree to doing things with other people because what if you never get another chance. You start to realize how important adventure and time spent with people are. You understand that these are what brings life to, well, your life. You start to seek out anything that will bring meaning to you or that will fill the hole in your chest. You want to experience life for your parent, for everything they are missing out on. You want to make their loss worth it by knowing you gave life everything you had for them.

You learn to let the guilt go.

It takes more time than you would ever thought, and it isn’t one simple task. You have to continuously make the decision to let it go, over and over again. But you do make that decision every time. You learn to let go of the guilt, learn to realize that all the things you could have done differently can’t help you now. You can’t change anything that happened so you learn to accept it, no matter how many times you have to. You learn to move on and learn to live with it: learn to live with the experience of the loss, and live with how things ended. You learn to accept that it wasn’t your fault, you learn to stop hating yourself, no matter how hard that is.

Your world became so negative, and you have to learn to change it.

After losing someone so important to you, you become bitter and resentful towards the world for taking them from you, for robbing you of so much time. You become so pessimistic about life’s outcomes. You have to learn to let go of the bitterness. You have to reteach yourself to think positively, to not always worry and think the worst case scenarios. You have to learn that this experience does not mean you will never be happy again, and that life will never be good again. You realize that your parent would never want you to go through life with this chip on your shoulder, that they would want you to be happy again. So you have to learn to change your outlook on life, again.

You learn that you are strong.

You would have never expected this to happen to you, never mind that you would have to make it through this. Yet here you are, you did it, and you made it. And after overcoming something like this you realize that nothing will ever stop you, because none of life’s obstacles will ever amount to this tragedy. Once you’ve survived this you realize you can survive literally anything life throws at you. You begin to realize your strengths and your assets. You learn to start loving yourself again, instead of blaming yourself. You learn to start realizing and appreciating the good things about yourself and the importance of self-love.

You appreciate your parent now more than ever.

They say that death distorts the memory, because people start to over glorify the ones that have passed. But I disagree, I think the loss erases the bad aspects of a person because you realize that those no longer matter. You realize that what was at their core was what really mattered. You begin to realize the parts about yourself that came from them, you realize what values and ideals they taught you, how they’ve shaped who you’ve become and the life you are leading. You let go of the bad memories, because in the end they hold no value. You just remember the real person they were, the love and support they gave you, and the memories you shared. And at the end of the day they were your parent, and no one in the entire world could ever replace them.

Don't take anyone for granted.

This is the number one thing I took away. Never take a single person, experience, memory, or moment for granted. Everything you currently have can be lost in an instant, without any warning. You learn to appreciate every little good thing in your life, and disregard the bad because it’s nothing compared to what has been. You have learned what is important in life, and what is not. Your meaning of life has changed forever.

It’s been a year since I lost her, an earth-shattering, core-rattling year. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think of her or miss her. This experience has changed me to my core, changed how I view myself, how I see life, and how I interact with other people. I will carry the weight of this tragedy around with me for the rest of my life, and the lessons I have gained because of it.

Cover Image Credit: RD.com

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Dear Mom, I Hope You Know

I hope you know that I am here for you--until the very end.
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Dear Mom,

I hope you know that I appreciate you.

You are the hardest working woman I know, continuously putting your family before yourself. Thank you for doing all of the tedious jobs that no one wants to do like keeping the house in order, cooking the food, and doing the laundry. Thank you for constantly putting up with my siblings and I. Thank you for always supporting us in our interests and hobbies. Thank you for investing in our daily lives and listening to our minor problems. Thank you for always loving us unconditionally.

SEE ALSO: 51 Things My Mom Didn't Think I Was Listening To...

I hope you know I'm sorry.

I know I can be a big pain in the butt sometimes, and for that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for yelling at you, arguing with you, not listening to you, and making dumb decisions at times, but thank you for loving me anyways. Thank you for helping me stand back up, teaching me right from wrong, and pushing me to be the very best version of me.

I hope you know your love inspires me.

You live your life with a love that is contagious. Whether its nurturing love, tough love, friendly love, or romantic love, you have it all and you show it daily. The love you and Dad share is something I hope to find one day and the love you have for your family is evident in the way you constantly put us first.

I hope you know that you are my biggest role model and hero.

Ever since I was a little girl, you have been the person I have looked to in my life. You are strong, independent, confident, loving, supportive, and nurturing-- everything I strive to be as a woman and as a future mother. You give the best advice, even when I don't always take it. Though, I should know better by now because mothers always know best. Without you in my life, I honestly don't know where I'd be.

I hope you know that you are my best friend.

Not only are you my biggest cheerleader supporting me in everything I do, you are the person I talk to about everything, whether it's good or bad. I'm honestly so thankful for the relationship we share because I've had countless screwups and you literally give the best advice. Seriously, thank you for being the person I can count on at all times, at any time of the day or even night to just talk with. I mean we really do have some of the best conversations, best laughs, best cries (when needed), and the most fun watching cheesy chick flicks together or going on crazy shopping adventures.

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I hope you know that I am here for you--until the very end.

I don't mean to make you cry or anything -- even though you probably already are, but I want you to know that when the time comes, I'm going to be there for you just like all of these years you've been here for me. I will be there to support you, talk with you, laugh with you, cry with you, and love you for all of my life.

Honestly, I can't really imagine my life without you -- but it doesn't matter because I wouldn't be here without you, so here's to you.

Thank you for being you.

Love you lots!

Your daughter.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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I Need You To Stop Calling Immigrants "Illegal"

An introductory piece to my retelling of immigrant stories highlighting why these people specifically chose to come into the U.S. "illegally"

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Since I was a kid, I've been surrounded by talks of illegal immigration. I remember being scared watching the news covering illegal immigration. I remember being overly cautious whenever near law officials and most of all, I remember peers and adults calling illegal immigrants aliens, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, and terrorists. What they didn't realize is that these illegal immigrants that they are describing are people I know.

Or maybe they did realize because as ugly as it is to say, the United States is a xenophobic place.

Everyone blames these immigrants for being illegal. Yes, they crossed the border or overstayed their visas but what no one is blaming are events that led them to do that. The majority of immigrants don't want to leave their home country but are forced to, due to violence, poverty and the lack of jobs in their communities. Immigrants come to the U.S. not just for themselves but for a better life, since when has this pursuit of happiness been illegal? Is it only legal for the white community?

No one blames the U.S and the Mexican government, who have in no way formed a solution for this problem, instead choosing to encourage xenophobic and white supremacist views. No one is blaming President Trump who continues to spread lies about immigrants, who continues to spread false facts, especially exemplified in his recent address. No one is prosecuting ICE officials who are responsible for having 22 immigrants die in their detention centers in the past 2 years. And since this whole government shutdown began over wall funding, not one story has overtly focused on the immigrant story.

There are immigrants who have been in the U.S for 18+ years and they are just as American as I am and every other U.S. citizen. They are just as hardworking and contributive to society. The only thing that separates them from the U.S. populace is a decision that they made when they were young adults and had no other option. A decision they made before 9/11-- before serious security checks were increased, especially targeted at individuals from other countries.

The reason that 12 million+ illegal immigrants are "illegal" is to blame on xenophobic views in the U.S. The so-called wall that will supposedly keep out gangs, drugs and violent immigrants from the U.S-- is it any coincidence that it is only separating Mexico and Central America from the U.S.? Why not build a wall separating Canada from the U.S.? Because the simple fact of the matter is that the United States does not care whether white people come into this country.

So many people in the U.S. are not able to comprehend the reason why so many immigrant families come to the U.S. They don't understand their stories and the several centuries of events that led to this. The only way that White Americans would be open to this idea of freely crossing borders would be if these immigrants were white-- mimicking exactly what happened in America when Europeans colonized.

Throughout these next few months, I hope to be able to retell immigrant stories-- the reasons why they migrated to the U.S., and especially how they are currently living the American Dream. These immigrants are so often wrongly represented by xenophobic views labeling them as the villain to the U.S. citizens' story that it is time that these "illegal" immigrants get to have their stories truthfully told, especially to stop the fear-mongering that surround these individuals and their lives. These stories that will be published are also not meant to paint the whole immigrant experience in a happy, innocent tone. Immigrant stories are filled with harsh realities that many individuals in the U.S. have had the privilege of not experiencing, but should otherwise still be knowledgable about.

As U.S. citizens, living in privilege is something that we take for granted, to the point that we don't even notice the adversities occurring in other countries-- ignorant to the reason why many of these individuals look to the American Dream as an emblem of hope.

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