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Losing Both Parents by Age 27: How I Began to Heal

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I woke up to my dad staring blankly at the wall the morning of October 14, 2004. It was the day before my 23rd birthday. I knew this day was coming, but nothing would prepare me to wake up and find my dad no longer alive—just a lifeless shell. He had battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma for a year and a half. At 54, his time here was over.

After my mom and I had cried over his body and walked the body bag down the hall, we decided to go out for lunch. Such an odd next step after your father was here on earth and now is suddenly just … not. We ate steak and potatoes and drank Diet Coke in his honor. It’s these things, I’m pretty sure, that led him down the cancer path, but that’s another story.

When I got home from lunch, I was all alone in the apartment we had lived in together. Strange things started happening. The lights went on and off. The song “Time Is Ticking Out” by The Cranberries was stuck on repeat on my stereo, the caps and num locks on my keyboard blinked back and forth without me touching anything at all, and my quiet cat, Bastian, was staring up at the corner, meowing at the wall. I was sure this was my dad trying to communicate that he had crossed over.

When I looked at him earlier that day and had called out, “Dad?” as if he was going to respond to me … I knew he wasn’t there, but what an odd thing? How can you be there and then … just not be there anymore? This moment made me come to be obsessed with learning about near-death experiences and worlds beyond the physical.

As I attempted to maneuver life, I felt like everyone started to disappear. The relationships my dad had built slowly started to fade. People were as scared to see or talk to me as I was of them, fearful of dealing with the harsh realities that my father was no longer with us. This took such a toll on my heart, as I wanted so badly to connect but had no idea how. How could life have brought me to this place of being 23 and not able to enjoy my dad in my life? Why do other people get this opportunity, yet it was “stolen” from me?

The Real Truth About Death
I continued to explore spirituality, reading many books about near-death experiences. P.M.H. Atwater changed my life with her book, The Real Truth About Death. In this book, Atwater tells the story of physically dying three times, each time going deeper into the afterlife. After returning from the dead, she interviewed more than 3,000 people from around the world who also had near-death experiences. After reading this book, I fully believed there was life after death. How could there not be? So many people from all over the world telling similar stories of tunnels, light, loved ones who had passed greeting them, and many times someone telling them their time is not over and it’s time to go back … doctors who can verify that their heart stopped beating for long periods and they were thought to be totally dead … there are too many similarities from all walks of life, all religions and ages, not to believe.

One evening in September 2008, I had one of the most dramatic spiritual experiences of my existence. I remember this event very clearly because I was conscious for all of it. My father came to me as what I can only describe as a spiritual entity—a ball of energy and white light. I knew it was him because I could feel him. The last time I had felt him in that way, he was alive and here on earth. He told me, “You need to spend more time with your mom because you don’ t know how much longer she’s going to be here.” I took this information very seriously and decided to take the opportunity to have a big 27th birthday party and invite my mom.

The Red Party
In October 2008, I had a red-themed party. Everyone came dressed in their brightest red. It was so good to see my mom, as we were just beginning to become friends again after a long period of post-teenage-into-early-twenties angst and her not fully accepting me dating women (I’d like to note that on my dad’s deathbed, he asked my mom to please accept me for who I am. Without the acceptance, we probably would not have a relationship in life.) This would be the last birthday she would spend with me.

A few days later, I learned that my uncle had taken my mom to the hospital. She was feeling weak and wanted to get checked out. I had planned to meet some new web clients at a cafe on this particular day. I’ll never forget waiting for my clients to arrive and, in the meantime, getting the phone call from my mom. She never expressed too much sadness in my life, but on the other end of the line, she was crying. “Lisa, I have leukemia,” she said. My heart dropped into my stomach. I realized this could be the very moment my father tried to warn me about.

We started the cancer roller-coaster ride of deciding what chemo to get and hospital visits. A few months in, the doctors had told us she was officially in remission. Come to think of it, this may have been a lie my mom had told everyone so we wouldn’t worry. In April 2009, her doctors had a sit-down with us and had the dreaded “there’s nothing else we can do for you” conversation. “All of your inner organs have a tumor wrapped around them.” ARE YOU SERIOUS? Part of me thought it was all a joke, and the other part of me was like, OK … OK universe … I know what’s going to happen. You have prepared me for this once before, and I’m going to have to do this again.

“I’m Sorry You Won’t Have Parents”
Later that day, I sat at my mother’s feet as she placed herself in the Pepto Bismol-colored recliner I had slept in many a night. She said, “I’m sorry you’re not going to have any parents anymore.” (This sentence has echoed in my brain thousands of times since this moment.) We used our time wisely, attempting to get things in order (or at least as in order as my mother would let them be). We watched our favorite movies, like “The Golden Child,” and laughed and cried in each other’s arms. I told her how much I was going to miss her … how much she meant to me, how thankful I was for her having me and everything she did for me in her life. She confided in me about things she would have never told a soul if she had the opportunity to continue on. We giggled at night about farts and stinky feet. I stopped my life to spend as much time with her as I could. I knew this time was precious and measured by the universe. I wasn’t going to let one drop of it go.

I was with her during her last weeks on earth. As the day got closer, she began to see people. My dad and her mother had come to tell her it was soon time. She had also seen people in Bermuda shirts with red balloons getting ready to welcome her. She saw an angel and I asked her to describe her to me. Long, blonde hair, white light around her, beautiful white dress … I could tell my mom was readying herself to transition, and these greetings were comforting to her. I played Enya in the background. Got her a professional, cancer-trained masseuse. Asked friends to join us and play music. The dreaded coma before death finally began to set in, and I wasn’t sure what moment she was going to go; it seemed like every breath could be her last.

Before I left to get some sleep, my mom had woken up with that last energy thrust many speak about (my dad had done the same). She was thirsty and hadn’t had water in what felt like days. I had been wearing a special shirt just for my mom because she liked it. The last thing she ever said to me—and I have no idea how she could have even formed words, because she had been on the edge of death for so long—was, “That’s a pretty shirt.” Hours before she passed, I began to get blank emails sent from no one, with nowhere to reply to and no subject line. Friends came to spend last moments with her. Her body got cold, her temperature was no longer reading on a thermometer … and after midnight on June 23, 2009, I watched my mom take one last, long breath. I had been watching the heartbeat through her neck for hours; after the long sigh that came from her lips, there was no movement at all. She seemed to settle into a peaceful smile. Her brow had calmed … her last day on earth had finally come … and I realized all at once that I was actually, totally, and utterly alone.

I sat with her for a little while, until a crew of people came barreling in to “place” her body so that when rigor mortis set in, she wasn’t in a weird position. They told my uncle and me that we had about an hour and then had to leave, so we gathered up her things and walked out to the parking lot—which may have been even more weird than when I went out to lunch and then went home after my dad died. I told my uncle I loved him, went into my tired, blue jalopy, and cried harder than I had ever cried in my life. I wailed as the idea of being alone in the world sunk in … that I knew this day would come … but I was only 27 and would now have to live out the rest of my days attempting to make sense of being so young and without parents.

The days that followed were the most difficult in my life. Freshly moved by two beloved friends (I will never forget what you did for me) the day after my mom’s funeral, one by one everyone I knew went back to their regularly scheduled lives and I was left in an empty apartment, with no parents and way too much alone time.

A Turning Point
During my mom’s illness, I had started to paint whenever I came home from visiting her or when I felt sadness. Although I had gone to art school, I had never really done much work with the canvas. It gave me peace to move  paint around with a brush … my fingers … a random object. It was something I felt was beautiful, that I could control, and that helped me express feelings that continued to bottle up. This was the creative outlet I needed.

For several years, friends had asked me to submit to a local community art show. I felt finally this was the year I was going to submit. I found this painting I had worked on during my mom’s illness and decided to submit it to the show, completely releasing whether it would get bought and just focusing on the satisfaction of the simple act of submitting to a public show I’d always wanted to participate in.

I submitted it very last minute and the piece was placed in what I thought was a semi-punishing, badly lit area of the show. We spent hours at the show and, prior to our departure, my girlfriend and I stopped by for one more look—and there it was: a red dot! The piece had been sold!

Submitting this piece was a complete turning point for me. I learned that I had created a healing method that was between me and me. I could work through feelings by placing energy on the canvas, and suddenly I felt like negative energies such as fear and anxiety were being channeled and released on these canvases. The healing process had truly begun.

In April 2011, I decided I wanted to explore blogging. As a web designer, putting one together was easy, but what kind of writer was I? There was only one way to find out! I told myself that I would write when I felt pain and try to turn it into something positive, creating what has become a recipe book for myself and future life situations. My intention was to connect those who were suffering from parental loss, like I was, and to hopefully help myself and others heal through art, writing, and focusing on the positive. Thus, LosingYourParents.org was born.

My intention is to enjoy the time I have in this life, and if I’m not enjoying it, to figure out what I need to do to get unstuck. I got a tattoo that says “follow your bliss” to always remind me of this thing that can seem so easy to forget.

Using my blog and art has helped me tremendously through the healing process. Those of us who have lost our parents are forever changed and will never forget. I do have faith that if you’re dedicated to wanting to live a brighter, lighter life, doing the work, finding the tools, and feeling the feelings will help you move forward. It has helped me. You’ve got to feel to heal.

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Comments
  • Katy March 5th, 2013 at 11:21 AM #1

    omg Lisa this is such a powerful post. “you’ve got to feel to heal” is so true. tnks for writing this

  • Maria Manna March 5th, 2013 at 1:48 PM #2

    This is beautiful and heartbreaking to read, Lisa. I recommend your blog often to clients who are coming to terms with death because your words are so important and meaningful. Thank you for showing such courage and sharing it with the world!

  • Jared.L March 5th, 2013 at 11:13 PM #3

    I have had a few unexplained things happen to me when my brother died years ago. Losing someone so close to me did push me towards depression but somehow the happenings around me just saved me from it. Even to this day I feel like my brother was protecting me from falling into a depression even though he was no longer around.

  • jason f March 6th, 2013 at 3:53 AM #4

    This is so sad for you that you have lost both of your parents by an early age, but I am encouraged by the news that you seem to have made some peace with that and have found some constructive outlets for all of that grief that you have been dealing with.
    The thing about death is that since it is so permanent it is hard for most of us to wrap our heads around it and accept that this is someone that we will never see or be able to call on the phone again.
    But I think that what you have done is somethning that all of us who have lost someone close to us could try, just to remember all of the good, think about our grief journey and then how we can turn that into something good for someone else. There could be no better lasting legacy and tribute for our lost familiy and friends than that.

  • admin March 6th, 2013 at 6:33 AM #5

    Lisa,
    Your story brought me to tears this morning as I imagined what it would be like to lose both parents. I’m 42 and even though I’m not particularly close with my folks, I know it would still mean heartache. I’m reminded of the wise Stephen Jenkinson who writes this about grief, “it’s how you love all those things in life that end.” Thank you so much for sharing your story and letting us see your beautiful heart.
    Hugs,
    Noah

  • Kateyanne March 6th, 2013 at 7:28 AM #6

    Lisa – many gratitudes for your open, loving words. I have had the same kinds of ‘strange happenings’ when my husband died (lights blinking, etc.) I remember yelling, ‘Leave me alone! You don’t have to convince me!’ lol Well, now you are flying on your own, and showing others the way. Well done.

  • Lisa March 6th, 2013 at 9:43 AM #7

    Katy, thank you for reading and for your support! You gotta feel to heal… :)

    Maria, thank you, too for reading and for all your support over the years. Thank you for sharing the blog with your clients, I hope that it encourages them to work through their healing! There is a light at the end of the tunnel, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

    Noah, thanks for reading… I really appreciate your comments and thoughts… It’s not easy to put it out there but it’s the truth and it’s what happened. I don’t think I’d be able to write about it if I didn’t have tools for healing, like art and writing… Sending love to you and thanks…!

  • Ella K March 6th, 2013 at 9:44 AM #8

    What a great piece! I love your writing style and really enjoyed your article. Keep up the good work!

  • Dorta March 6th, 2013 at 9:51 AM #9

    I am right there with you on believing in “people” communicating with us from the afterlife. My husband and I bought the house his grandfather built on a lake along with his sons for the extended family to use. It was our permanent residence so we were there all the time. And, so many things happened! In the end, looking back on it all, everything that happened was just like him-it was all very protective in nature with a good dose of practical joking going on. We’ve since sold the house and moved on and I sure do miss him being there. It was kind of fun!

  • james March 6th, 2013 at 9:54 AM #10

    parents are a treasure for sure and it is so hard to lose them i know. my mom and dad died in a car wreck. when i was only 13. kids that age always complained about their parents and i’d just keep quite. but it was so hard. i’d have given anything. to be able to fight with them about that stupid teenager stuff. i miss them both every day.

  • Ginger March 6th, 2013 at 9:57 AM #11

    What a gift your dad gave you on his death bed! To encourage your mom to accept you as you are is priceless indeed! And, good for you for being who you are even though it must have been tough.

  • Heather Green March 6th, 2013 at 10:00 AM #12

    LOL Kateyanne! that cracked me up on a bad day when I was really missing my sister. she hadn’t never tryed to contact me but if she did i do believe that is exactly what i’d have to tell her. i don’t want no ghosts in my house!!!!!!!!

  • Lisa March 6th, 2013 at 12:12 PM #13

    Jared – That’s incredible that you had unexplained things happen when your brother died. Would you like to share any of them? I’m always curious what other people’s experiences are like.

    It sounds like your brother was absolutely looking after you and protecting you from depression. You were open enough to receive those messages – it’s amazing!

    Jason – Thank you so much for reading and for your support… I have made a lot of progress in the last several years and I have come to a peaceful place for the most part — and when it’s not peaceful, I write or create art… find some way to express it. Let it flow through and OUT!

    Death can feel very permanent and it is on a lot of levels. If we’re open, which can be hard to do sometimes, we can shift the idea of permanently “dead” to permanently alive, if we can open our minds to what alive means. They are not here physically, but I do believe they are having another life beyond this one and one day, we’ll understand how that works.

    Kateyanne- Thank you so much – not easy to be so open sometimes, but I feel like it’s my duty to share my story so we can all heal. What a cool way for your husband to say hello! Any other stories you might like to share about those experiences? Like I said to Jared (above) – I’m so curious to what other people experience. Thanks so much for your support.

    Ella – thank you for reading and for your kind words!! It’s been a journey to find “my voice”.

    Dorta – WOW – how cool to have those communications! What kind of things happend? Did it ever scare you or were just always like – ha, that’s fun…?

    James, I’m so sorry to hear about your parents – you were so young and lost them both at the same time. I’m sorry to hear that. Sometimes I hear people complaining about their parents and I usually think to myself… I wish my mom or dad here so we could even just eat a meal together again. I’m sending you lots of love… How have you gotten through those dark times?

  • shane March 6th, 2013 at 11:53 PM #14

    to all those who miss a loved one who has passed-revel in the memories. and take heart in the fact that you got to share some special moments you shared with the loved one. for some of us, they are snatched away without a warning and before any meaningful talk could ever be had.that is extremely painful :|

  • Lisa March 8th, 2013 at 7:55 AM #15

    Hi Shane – I know there are several kinds of death, the ones that are long and painful and the ones that are short and painful. I’m sorry to hear of the loss in your life. I knew every minute my parents were dying that this could be the last time I ever exchange eye contact, share a moment… it was very special and I hope that it makes all of us really take in our own lives and own special moments. I’m sending you love.

  • BJWilliams March 18th, 2013 at 3:24 PM #16

    I rushed home from the best bakery in town with a birthday cake for my brother’s child whose birthday we were celebrating. My brother had just been released from the VA Psych unit after over-dosing on tons of pills and surviving: In the unit for a week. We had the little party for his daughter. The next day was Mother’s day. That was the day my brother shot himself through his temple and didn’t die. I was on the phone with our mother, wishing her Happy Mother’s Day, when the call came through from my brother’s hysterical girlfriend to tell me she couldn’t find my brother in her house, but she could hear him. I hung up with my now hysterical mother and raced to the scene; a few neighborhoods away from mine. The EMTs were carrying my brother out on a gurney, upright and mumbling and conscious.
    In the ICU my brother lay plugged in to tons of tubes. His daughter was brought in by her mother (divorced from my brother) in order to become guardian of her father; in the state of Ohio, if you’re divorced and have a child over 18, that child becomes your guardian…not a brother or sister of the patient…the child over 18. It was my brother’s only child’s 18th birthday..that very day and she was consumed with trauma from this.

    Nine months later my mother lay in ICU with congestive heart failure. I was called to her bedside by her doctor. I arrived in Florida the day after my birthday, from Ohio. My mother refused further treatment and was put in hospice. She asked me to sing “Darktown Strutters Ball” and I did. The priest was called.
    On Valentine’s Day my mother died. Even the hospital staff was visibly upset. I had no shoulder or arms holding me the entire time and twelve years later still wait for that….even when I’ve asked. No family came to help me make plans (and my mom had no will or plans, or husband). I just had some people at the hospital in Florida.

    12 days later, after I figured out how to cremate my mother in Florida, I rented a car to drive to a small town on the Gulf Coast I remembered as a child. I needed to be off the planet, or where no one would guess what I had been through. My brother lying in a hospital….no short term memory and little did Iknow he would last 5 years that way before dying.
    When I arrived in the little Gulf Coast town, I was in a motel room about 11pm that night.
    I got a phone call from a brother in Oklahoma. He told me “Dad didn’t make it”.
    Didn’t make what? I didn’t even know he was sick, or in the hospital. (this is how fragmented families operate: take heed folks).
    Dad died today.
    Dad died? I’m in a motel. With no one. Not even the clerk was really friendly. Our mom just died…I’m trying to make some little something or other with the chaplain at the strange unknown hospital she died in when I get back…
    Now Dad died. Dad died? That’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m in Florida.
    With no one but myself; I get back in the rental car and have no idea how I got back to Daytona Beach to turn it in. Then I got in my own car and went to a WalMart (24 hour) to buy little brown craft boxes put mother’s ashes in. I used a little sugar spoon to sift through and put them in 5 equal amounts, at night, alone, in Florida…and I didn’t know anyone. I carried them on to the plane to go to Tulsa for a funeral for my father. I gave them to each of the five of us children. I don’t remember talking. I don’t remember seeing my father lying anywhere. I don’t remember the airplane trip back to Florida alone. I don’t remember ONE phone call from anyone back in Ohio where I lived.

    My parents died 12 days apart. They had been divorced for a long time. Having no one to hold me for even five minutes to grief has taken its toll on me now. I have been to therapists (they usually say “oh, it’s all too much for you to think about, we’ll pick this up next week. Would you like an appointment next week?” I went to a grief support group and the leader said I had complicated grief because it’s more than one person and I should seek a specialist. A specialist? Have you looked up counselling on the internet in your area? Do you see titles that counselors address called “Complicated Grief Issues”? No you do not.

    I drove back and forth to Florida and Ohio, saving my mother’s belongings; nice art, furnishings and little things. I don’t remember much of it.

    Neither of my parents knew the other was sick or died. My mother died thinking my dad would be around for me. My brother shot himself thinking the rest of the family could make up for the hole he made in my heart. My father died thinking my mother was still alive ( I had not even had time to call and tell him she died).

    Most days I just want to move to Paris, France and make a whole new life out of nothing. I hate therapists now. They DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT DEATH. Who the hell will talk about it?

  • Lisa March 19th, 2013 at 10:28 PM #17

    BJ, I just read everything you said, and I want to talk about it. I would give you a giant hug if I could. I’m visualizing my arms around you, sending love your way. I can’t believe that happened to you. So much intensity. So much distance between your family. So little communication and so much death around the same time. I can’t imagine the pain you have been through. I totally understand wanting and needing and hoping for family and friends to kick in to gear and just help people like us through difficult times. I found that these difficult life situations really part the seas of who’s in and who’s out in your life. The fork in the road is there and many people take the easy way out which is totally not dealing at all which means walking away from you which also means deserting you and leaving you feeling probably more alone than you ever have been, ever. Am I getting any of this right?

    You were meant to be here and you were meant to be alive and live and live and keep living. You are deserving of a beautiful life, despite the circumstances of your family. The difference is between us and the people who desert us is that we are warriors. For whatever reason, and we often don’t know why until later, this happened and this happened to US… And we have a choice how to look at the world and what we fight for… So I ask you, BJ, who are you now, who do you want to be and what are you fighting for?

  • Sarah Clark May 22nd, 2013 at 8:19 PM #18

    My mom died on a brain aneurysm at 45, 7 years ago.
    My dad died 2 months ago of complications after surgery to remove cancer. I’m 26. I look forward to reading your blog and am hoping it will help my healing.

  • Eileen May 27th, 2013 at 4:39 AM #19

    I am sorry for your loss at such a young age. You never stop missing your parents, and I find that holidays and certain days I miss them more. I hope you can find comfort in friends and knowing that they have moved on, but are not “gone.”

    My father lost his parents, tragically, at age six. He never knew them, or had much memory of them, yet, I am quite sure that he grieved their loss his whole life.

  • Corey June 28th, 2013 at 4:04 AM #20

    18 years old. I found this website somewhat searching for answers. By the time I was 16 I lost both of my parents. You know Lisa reading your story I thought what are the odds? My mom was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in February 2008, I was in 8th grade. She made it past the summer getting treatments after treatments and it destroyed me watching it happen.

    I feel the really twisted thing is that she was cleared clinically in remission of her cancer. She made it 74 days into the 100 day remission period. She had went into her weekly checkup and the doctors said the Leukemia was back and stronger than ever. I remember a phone call on Saturday I got from my mom and we just talked like nothing was wrong. I told her I loved her and that was the last time I got to talk to her. She passed on September 15, 2008.

    After that sure it was messed up but ive always been the guy to go on with a smile on my face and never had anything effect me because that is just who I am. My dad was always the dad with the corporate job in a suit providing for my family and before my mom got sick, life was good atleast what I can remember. But after she passed, he was never the same. It seemed he felt like he should do what he loves, spend time with his children. I feel he just wanted to be happy and enjoy life with a new perspective due to my mom passing.

    So not even 3 years later, at the end of the summer of 2011. We got invited to go on a vacation with another family from I believe August 1st to August 7th. This was a true surprise because we have never had money. We barely made it by. There was a week I can remember that our water got turned off for a week just as an example. But for my dad to say we are going on a vacation was crazy. We were going to the OuterBanks, I cant remember the name of the island off of North or South Carolina, so the basically it was an unreal opportunity.

    I probably spent the most amazing days with my dad and my little brothers over a 6 day period in my life. Me and him drank beers on the roof of the beach house just laughing, smoking cigarettes, literally having the time of our lives. Its surreal I can visualize each day so vividly.

    It was August 7th and we were leaving. It was a 12-14 hour drive back home in a small town around Knoxville, Tennessee. So me and my little brothers were in for a long ride. We stopped at a gas station just a mere hour and a half away from home and I was sitting there and looking up at the road as we(in my mind it seemed) drifted slowly off the interstate. Before I knew it we hit trees and next thing I knew I was laying on the ground 20-30 feet from our van in pain Ive never felt before. It turns out we hit the trees going 80mph and I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt sitting in the passenger side. When we hit the trees it spun the van 180 degrees and the force threw me, my head busted the window and I was thrown from the vehicle 20-30 feet and hit the ground. When I can conscious on the ground I somehow someway got up because in my mind I felt I had to move to keep my heart beating so I wouldn’t die. Next thing I hear is my little brothers screaming for help. I sprang into adrenaline, I somehow ran to the car and grabbed my youngest brother and pulled him out of the van. I hear my other brother and he was trapped in the floor between the seats. So me gushing blood from my head busting the window out, I remember this moment so vividly.. I leaned inside the back window(which was broken) and saw him. He was in shock because he was so calm. I remember the moment, he was just reaching out to me saying “Help me Corey, help me”. I grabbed his hand and pulled with all the strength that I had, pulled so hard I yelled to the skies just hoping I can get him out. Then he got unstuck suddenly and flew into my arms and I carried him to safety. Keep in mind that at the time my brothers were 9 and 11 years old.

    I got them to safety. All the while, all of this happened before anyone had stopped because we wrecked(so fairly quickly). Then I ran back to the car and saw my dad, laying across the driver and passenger seats. I pulled and pulled and yelling trying to pull him out but I just couldnt do it. I tried so hard. So I just yelled and screamed for help. Eventually the ambulance came I knew that he didn’t make it. I had his blood all over me from a gash on his head. They told me that he never made it to the hospital. So he passed on August 7th, 2011.

    Crazy its been coming up on 2 years this august. I guess I just wanted to share my story and look for advice. Look for answers. Still to this day I’m a very happy person, just some days are harder than others. You guys just remember, I know that these days are going to be hard if you’ve ever lost anyone, but dont let the past or tragedies hold you back. Cherish the memories, and move forward with your life as your parent or parents would want you to.

  • Trisha-Ann September 5th, 2013 at 3:52 AM #21

    Hi, I just want to thank you all so much for taking the time to write about your very difficult experiences, I too have been through a huge trauma and have been struggling big time with suicidal thoughts, last night I was extremely close to taking a huge pile of pills again, when I found your website, it helped me get through the night, thank you all, you just may have helped save a life xxxx

  • Annie September 23rd, 2013 at 9:54 AM #22

    Just wanting to extend love to everyone who posted and especially Corey who doesn’t seem to have had an answer. I lost my father when I was 7 and my mom when I was 23. It sure is hard keeping going and it does affect the whole of the rest of your life. I hope everyone here gets enough love in the rest of their lives to make up in some way for such hardship. Xxx

  • Alicia October 13th, 2013 at 3:58 PM #23

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m 34, lost my dad when I was 31 and my mom 2 years later, a little over a year ago. I keep thinking lately about how “weird” it feels to be that person without parents. I’ve met these people in the past, some younger than I was and I remember thinking how strange it was for someone young to not have parents. And then suddenly, I joined that weirdness. This weekend I was thinking about how when I get old my parents will be a distant memory. Will I even remember their voices? The only thing that makes me feel like they’re still with me sometimes is occasionally the cuckoo clock in my dining room that was theirs will start on it’s own. Well and the dreams too, but those are often still too painful. I feel like an alien often, it’s good to see people blogging about things that make us all feel more connected. Oddly, this blog was published on my birthday.

  • Natasha January 4th, 2014 at 5:11 AM #24

    My mother passed over 20 years and right now my dad is on a ventialor

  • Cathy A Kurtz February 4th, 2014 at 3:25 PM #25

    I so understand and felt myslef drawn into the article as I lost my whole family at 16 in a private plane crash. There are no words to descibe the loneliness you feel. It has taken me almost 40 years to have the courage to write my story, Living Through The Pain – The Lonely Me which is will be available March 2014.

  • Bria R April 28th, 2014 at 5:07 AM #26

    Thankyou for sharing this. It is nice to know I am not alone. I lost my mom 14 years ago and just lost my dad a few days ago. I am scared and lost and confused but know I will get through this just seems so crazy to lose not one but both parents before I am even 30 years old !

  • Bria r April 28th, 2014 at 5:11 AM #27

    My mom passed away also from a brain anyrusm and my dad passed away a few days ago from sepsis after chemo. Hope your hanging in there xoxo

  • Sarah May 15th, 2014 at 5:46 AM #28

    How is your dad doing now?

  • Meghan May 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 PM #29

    Hi Lisa (and all others who have left comments),

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. As I am typing this, my only family member in the world – my best friend and mom – is trying to transition into the next life. I just turned 30. I moved back to my home town in January after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her onc was so positive that I started focusing on building my life – finding a job etc. A month ago, after my mom complained for two months that her tumors felt like they were growing, the onc finally ordered a PET scan that showed things had spread. There was nothing left for them to do but palliative radiation. Right after we finished the radiation (about 10 days ago) she started declining rapidly. People kept saying it’s the radiation and she’ll bounce back at least for a while. She has not bounced back. We are on hospice and currently in crisis care because she seems so uncomfortable. We have spent non stop time together this last 4 weeks for which I am eternally grateful. We shared stories, secrets, laughed and cried. I know not everyone gets to do that so I feel lucky. I am beyond heartbroken that this is happening and don’t know that I”ll ever know how to be in the world without her. She is my best friend and the only person who has known me since I was a kid. I believe in an afterlife and have asked my mom to visit me as often as she can. My dear friends are all reaching out but I can’t help but feel some resentment that they all have healthy moms – and probably will for 10, 20, 30 more years. All I have ever wanted was to buy some land that me and my mom could live on and have a garden on. I don’t know how to go through this. She is in the other room restless and moaning with the nurse. Any advice on how to cope? Blessings and peace to all of you out there who have lost your parents.

  • Meagan August 4th, 2014 at 12:25 PM #30

    Wow it is so nice and comforting to find that I am not alone. I lost my dad to ocular melanoma when I was 19, and when I was 24 my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. After my dad passed we thought we were immune to anything bad happening to is because we had lost our dad so young. My mom became our rock and pulled my sister and I together to keep from falling apart. Recently she started getting very I’ll and spent her last 2 months in the hospital. I quit my job and spent every second I could with her and am so thankful I did. 3 days ago my mom lost her life due to compilations from the trauma of the cancer, chemo and radiation ( perforated colon that the wound was unable to heal due to high steroid dosage) I am now 26 years old and although it’s only been 3 days I miss her so much and cannot imagine the rest of my life without her. I am struggling with awful anxiety and fear and trying my best to find peace with both my parents being gone.

  • Zack W. August 28th, 2014 at 10:27 PM #31

    Really lost right now. I found my mother dead un expected when i was 15 that was august 14 of 2004 and we buried her on the 18th…..10 years to the day that i buried her i found my dad dead on the floor in front of his bedroom door…the autopsy found he had a brain tumor….i am so lost right now..i cant eat sleep..i have no peace

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team August 29th, 2014 at 9:07 AM #32

    Thank you for your comment, Zack W. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Julie September 12th, 2014 at 9:24 AM #33

    Megan,

    I am so sorry for your loss and I hope God gives you strength and courage to move on. Myself I am 35 and I have a brother who is 25. We both lost 4 family members o. June 22nd 2014 in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver. Out of 4 family members 2 were my parents. My brother and I are going through a lot at the moment and it seems our lives had stopped since June 22nd. . We have a hole in our hearts that only my dad & mom can fill. My parents were/are/ and will be our rocks and always will be as we listen to our inner voice recalling their strong assurances that Ravi (my brother) and I could do anything we put our minds to. My dad taught both of us what unconditional love is. He was the one to come right out and say “I Love You and he was the lovey dovey huggy kind of Soul AND he was the one to always be there to bail us out of whatever situation we managed to get ourselves into and he NEVER gave up on us.The hole in our hearts remains and we try to keep it plugged with memories of our parents, walking on the path both showed us, and taking care of their precious grandkids. We hold on to the memories, and look at pictures of our parents. We get to be proud when people still talk about what a fantastic human beings you and mom were. They were always there for people when they needed help and they never expected or wanted anything in return for helping people. Their generosity and selflessness is inspiring and unmatched. Both of my parents have left people with a lot of good memories of you both. They always mention how you made them laugh, always listened, how they both always helped whoever they could with whatever you could. It gives us a feeling of warmth inside to hear these things about both of our parents and inspires us to be the kind of daughter/son you’d be proud of. I like to believe you’re watching over Ravi (my brother) Aru (my son 9 yrs), Ruchi ( my daughter 6 yrs), Ajay ( my husband) and me.

  • Michelle September 13th, 2014 at 10:48 AM #34

    I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine your pain. My brother in law lost both of his parents on the same day 10 years apart, and wrote/recorded a tribute song in their memory. It is so emotional, and so moving. Brings tears to my eyes every time… You can feel the loss and learning to heal and it is both very sad and beautiful at the same time.

    m.youtube.com/watch?v=d-6GLuTQg0I

  • Tonya September 23rd, 2014 at 6:28 PM #35

    I lost my mom five years ago and just lost my dad yesterday trying to cope but I’m just so lost my appetite is gone and I can’t sleep and I can’t focus I hope reading some of these stories will help me with this process of griefing

  • Aparna October 3rd, 2014 at 10:58 PM #36

    Julie, I just lost my mother two weeks ago to cancer (she was only diagnosed in May so I did not get a chance to really deal with the diagnosis before she passed away). My dad had passed away when I was 9. I am 37 now. I feel so lost right now without my mom who was also my best friend. I am looking for people to talk to (people who are going through a similar situation). Please let me know if you would like to stay in touch.

    Take care and Regards,
    Aparna

  • Nadine Dambra October 12th, 2014 at 12:45 PM #37

    My mom died too of a brainn anerysm in 1993 at age 49 Feb 6 1993 it took a toll on my brother sister neices nephews and me then just now Sept 4 2014 my dad died at age 75 both of their deaths changed my life forever I am mentally challenged dealing with both of my parents death like my loving sister brother neices nephew and great neices nephews

  • Vicki T October 12th, 2014 at 11:54 PM #38

    I lost my dad 3.5 years ago, he had an aneurism so died suddenly! I’m now 33 and my mum died 2 months ago of secondary breast cancer! I have no siblings! Luckily I have a wonderful husband who is so supportive! But when I start thinking too much I realise that I’ve lost the only people who loved me unconditionally! :( my fears of ill health and my husband leaving me are escalating! To be honest I can’t see myself ever feeling better and secure again!

  • Stephanie October 20th, 2014 at 8:09 PM #39

    My mom was killed by a family friend in 2003, I was 15 years old. I became the “mother” of the house, helping my dad with house work, cooking, cleaning, taking care of my brother etc all while in high school. I graduated, moved out, went to college.

    My dad and I always had a great relationship. He supported me through so many ups and downs during college. He, at the age of 49 went back to college. Got 2 degrees. Got a job promotion. 5 years ago, he was told he had a rare type of sarcoma. He had multiple surgeries, radiation. We thought it was gone. This last november, I got married. We moved to Houston in February for my husbands job. In March, my dads cancer returned. More surgery. Second opinion from MD Anderson which brought him to Houston. He got to stay at our house, I got to cook for him, take him places etc. I loved this time. Little did I know this would be the last time I would see him in person.

    I turned 27 in September, He began radiation and chemo in September, right before my birthday. He was 1 week away from completing his treatment and he died October 2, they think an embolism. Since he had cancer, no autopsy was done.

    Life is still surreal and I am so happy I found this blog post.

  • Tina November 5th, 2014 at 12:19 PM #40

    I lost both my parents . I’m single and 34. I kniw the feeling of anxiety disconnectedness. So hard to just go through the motions

  • Jen November 5th, 2014 at 7:57 PM #41

    You guys have some heart breaking things going on in your lives. Im so sorry for all of your hardships. I can say… when I was at my worst, I lost communication with the large majority of my friends and I was too depressed to do much of anything more than I had to. I just didnt know where to turn. I went out on a limb and went to a church. I continued to go and that weekly inspiration carried me through every week until I got stronger. I remember a point where I felt so helpless, I just laid in my bed, crying in depression and sadness. I reached for my bible and hugged it because I just had nothing else. It was my savior. Not trying to necessarily “preach” but just wanted to share my own experience. My heart hurts for you and im sure your family would be sad to know of your sadness. Every day is a gift. The best we can do is honor our loved ones by living this and each day to the fullest. <3

  • Sammie November 6th, 2014 at 12:55 PM #42

    Enjoyed reading your story, you are very good at writing & expressing yourself. I’m sorry for your loss’s & your pain, but both is so inspiring! God bless

  • Sammy November 7th, 2014 at 7:40 AM #43

    “Feel to heal!” Like that. Having lost both my dad suddenly after he went for a run when I was 22, my mom when I was 25 and brother when I was 28 I could never describe how I felt. I only knew survival mode. But my body paid a price; chronic migraines, fibromyalgia and TMJ. Faith and hope got me to the point of reflecting on art and scriptures to finally feel again. Pastoral counseling led me to therapy where a mix of talk, pet, equine and biofeedback has enhanced coping skills when feeling overwhelmed or disconnected. A trip to France reconnected me to the generation of roots I never knew but always “felt”. A dream realized from my childhood, my parents would be thrilled for me! I rejoice in that, and will continue to live for more dreams realized that make me truly, deeply happy all these years later; as this is what my parents would want – a happy, healthy, mentally, physically, spiritually, best I can be me.

  • sonia November 9th, 2014 at 11:34 PM #44

    I am 23 going on 24in November it was the morning of August 19,2010 I recieve a call from my sister saying moms gone I asked what do u mean she’s gone she’s in the hospital? My mom had suffered from diabetes since the day I was born my mother has 5kids making me the youngest it wasn’t until I was born that she got diabetes from then it has been a daily struggle in 2010 mom moved to florida with my oldest sister she didn’t want to leave but my sister was the only one who could care for her, leaving the other 4 of her kids in Massachusetts mom went to florida just to help her settle in I went with them for a month we had fun but she was sick in and out the hospital but soon I knew my time to go back home was near I had a boyfriend of almost 3years back home waiting for me (things were rocky and we weren’t at our best but we tryed to make it work) when I got back to mass mom was getting more sick than usual and was put into an induced coma because she was just out of it trying to yank out her breathing tubes I had to take another trip back to florida this time I went with my second oldest brother and two cousin and there we would meet up with out other 3siblings getting to the room was impossible just to see her laying there so out of it at one point she would react to our voices squeezing our hand and moving her toes a bit but she didn’t open her eyes at one point she coughed and started choking on the tube I couldn’t bare to see her in that state we stood there for 3days maybe 4 but had to return back home. My sister kept me updated on her condition the doctors finally took her out of the induced coma she she started to wake up her throat sore from the tubes but she managed to call us all who knew that would be the last time id speak to my mom :'( although she woke up her diabetes wasn’t any better her kidneys were failing she started to retain water and well she was just loosing it. The doctor let her go on hospice finally the call she had passed I was only 20 when she died. Remembering it was my sisters birthday I called her back to wish her a happy birthday telling her I know it probably wasn’t so happy her response shocked me saying “it is happy because I know she isnt in any more pain” I dont know how she remained so positive and on her birthday of all days but I admire her for that, but in that following week maybe days me and my now ex boyfriend had broken up (he cheated on me) leaving me with noone to help me thru this

    So now 3years later February 14,2013 (Valentine’s day) my father passed my dad had been struggling with drugs for as long as I could remember it was hard to get in touch with him, him being in and out of jail him trying to get better in and out of methadone facilities him and mom have been off and on thru the years together then breaking up when he started using again, But in march of 2013 me and my brother (were the only 2who share the same mother and father) receive a phone call apparently they been trying to reach us for a month noone could get ahold of my dads family until they found my uncles (his brothers) number with his belongings they needed his kids to identify his body because it had been there for a month and didn’t know what to do with the body my uncle had suggested giving it to science I wasnt going to let that happen just my luck yet again I was having a bad relationship this time with a woman for 2 years we had just broken up so again I was left to cry/mourn alone (me and my brother never got along) so hand in hand with my brother and his girlfriend we went to identify his body as my brother looked to his girlfriend for support I had noone but as for the life style my father chose noone could help with his funeral and my father’s oldest son (which we never met) was in jail me and my brother found just enough money to at lease have him cremated

    I guess sharing my story I just needed to talk to people who know what it feels like I cry at night and I dont feel like I can talk to my girl (same one as above we fixed things) because she still has her parents and hearing my fathers past she doesn’t always have anything positive or comforting to say or help me feel better but I cant blame her she goes off what she knows. Anyways for me it just doesn’t get any easier I still haven’t learned how to live with the fact that there gone I was mommy’s baby girl & daddy’s only daughter I feel like I won’t ever get over it I find myself often blaming myself although my dad chose drugs over family I feel like if it wasn’t beacuse of my birth mom wouldn’t have diabetes and would of never been sick

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team The GoodTherapy.org Team November 10th, 2014 at 9:37 AM #45

    Thanks to each of you for sharing your experiences here. This ongoing dialogue is heartwarming, and we encourage you to continue talking about your experiences with mental health issues and therapy with a wider audience via the Share Your Story feature on our blog. Writing your story may be healing for you and encouraging to others. Learn more and submit a piece for review here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/submit-your-story.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Dee November 16th, 2014 at 12:02 AM #46

    I lost my mother when i was 5yr, father at age of 8.. Bought up by legal gurdians, its childhood grief i have not came out of it till date, i find myself so lonely, i dont socialise because that creates attachment, afeection, care and love i hate all these words, i be with people but only if i feel like, i dont know how to cope up with all this, i run away from people who try to read me or care for me, i have becume so practical in life that at times i dont even care for other people emotions, and equally if will fully i get attached to any then i become there headache.. This is

  • Rachel November 24th, 2014 at 8:38 AM #47

    I’m now 34 and lost both parents by 23 ,father had rare form of leukemia and mother had a brain tumour,I now have a child with sn I am from the uk and interested in talking with like mind people x

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