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The Lifelong Effects for a Child After the Death of a Parent

 

When a child experiences the death of a parent, the emotional trauma can be devastating. But until recently, few studies have examined the impact of this type of loss relative to the age of the child and the quality of parenting that the child received after the loss. In her study, Angela Nickerson, of the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, sought to determine how this dynamic affected these children across their life span. “As the life span progresses and the individual reaches adulthood, the psychological and interpersonal consequences of this disturbance may manifest in long-term mental health problems,” said Nickerson. “There is strong evidence that aspects of the family environment, such as quality of parental care and relationship with the surviving parent, are important in affecting long-term psychological reactions following parental loss.”

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For her study, Nickerson and her colleagues analyzed data from 2,823 adults who had all experienced the death of a parent during childhood. They used the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview to assess psychological impairment, parental care, and other factors that could contribute to difficulties later in life. They found that the younger a child was at the time of the loss, the more likely they were to develop mental health problems, including anxiety, mood, or substance abuse issues. The study also revealed that family conditions after the death played a significant role. “While the current study focused on the impact of adverse parenting practices on psychological distress, it is possible that positive family relationships and good parenting practices may act as a protective factor against psychopathology following the loss of a parent,” said Nickerson. She added, “These findings have important implications for theoretical conceptualizations of psychological reactions following the loss of a parent across the life span.”

Reference:
Nickerson, A., Bryant, R. A., Aderka, I. M., Hinton, D. E., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011, October 17). The Impacts of Parental Loss and Adverse Parenting on Mental Health: Findings From the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025695

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Comments
  • joey October 24th, 2011 at 11:49 AM #1

    losing a parent at a young age would make the child feel helpless and even ‘different’ from the others…there is a lot going on in the minds of kids and not many of us know that they are capable of complex thinking and that these things can have a major effect on them.

  • Rosie October 24th, 2011 at 1:51 PM #2

    I am finding out that this is the same for an adult who was adopted at birth. Being raised by a wonderful family still doesn’t erase the pain that the infant felt when abandoned at birth.

  • Jean Vaughn October 24th, 2011 at 4:32 PM #3

    I lost my mother at a very young age and it has always impacted me negatively. I am always thinking about the things that I am doing now and that she was never able to experience. I have already lived longer than she did and it was hard for me to reach that age that she was when she died and have no problems whatsoever. I am afraid that I will not be able to be a good mom because I never really had her around a whole lot to model that behavior for me. That is something that I still struggle with.

  • E.M.K October 25th, 2011 at 5:49 AM #4

    While death of a parent would affect a child beyond doubt,the changing family structure in these times are not a good thing either.It is very similar to death of a parent because in so many families the parent have separated and the children no longer have contact with one of the parents.Death is not always preventable but the breaking marriages are!

  • Sarai October 25th, 2011 at 1:28 PM #5

    I was a young adult when I lost my dad- while I was in college. And even though I have so many wonderful memories of him it still is difficult to process sometimes that he is gone and that I will not be able to see him again. But I try to remember the happy times and not dwell on the fact that I miss him. I try to remember all of the good things and to still make him a part of my life with my own children now. That still makes him very real to me, and I love that I can share that specialness with my kids now too.

  • Kendrick October 26th, 2011 at 12:00 AM #6

    If something material is missing it can be got later on and you will not miss it forever. But it a parent is missing in a child’s life then that is a completely different story. It’s next to impossible to replace because no matter how good the other parent is the void will always be felt.

  • Mary Andrews October 26th, 2011 at 2:35 PM #7

    No matter how young or old you are when this happens nothing can prepare you for the loss of a parent and there is nothing that can help you get over the pain of that loss of the first people who ever loved you unconditionally.

  • Isiah Bryant October 30th, 2011 at 8:13 PM #8

    My dad died when I was eleven. My mother was always the homemaker and didn’t work much. Suddenly us kids were thrust into a world without Dad where she wasn’t there when we got in from school. The daily routine was all different now because she now had to work. We had strangers coming in to babysit us because my parents kept themselves to themselves and never had friends that we knew of.

    We hated that intrusion. I think that’s why I make sure my family is surrounded by close friends and acquaintances the children know well, so that if anything happened to me that support would be there.

  • themuse October 30th, 2011 at 9:21 PM #9

    I am so glad mine are up into their twenties now and self-reliant, or at least as self-reliant as any average twenty-something can be. I cannot imagine how I would have managed to raise them all by myself when they were small and count my blessings that my husband and I got through those years without incident. It hurts my heart to think about families that have to.

  • Lara Phelps October 31st, 2011 at 12:10 AM #10

    My best friend’s father was killed in a car wreck when she was only months old. Although she never knew him, she’s always felt that sense of loss and bereavement. When her wedding came around it was very hard emotionally on her. In the end she decided upon a favorite uncle to give her away, her father’s brother.

  • Darla H. November 2nd, 2011 at 3:14 PM #11

    I lost my dad when I was seven. I don’t recall much about it. He had a stroke one day at his work. When you see photographs of my dad it’s clear the resemblance between him and I is uncanny. Everyone that knew him comments on it to this day. I went through a phase in my teens of thinking mom must hate me because of that, and how difficult it must be for her to look at me every day and see this face that’s the spitting image of dad looking back at her.

    I talked about that once to her. She told me it was painful at first when he died, but over time the pain subsides to be replaced with a sense of comfort that he’s never far away. She need only look at her daughter to remember that, she said with a smile. That made me feel much better. :)

  • Clint Dunlap November 2nd, 2011 at 5:57 PM #12

    I get angry when I hear teens complain about their parents and how they won’t buy them this or let them do that. They don’t know how lucky they are to have them!

    Try growing up in foster homes and see if you are still so quick to badmouth them, boys and girls. You have no idea what it’s like to be on the flip-side of that nasty coin.

  • Rosie August 19th, 2012 at 4:55 PM #13

    I was 3 when my ‘dad’ left and 7 when my dear mum died of cancer. I’m 17 now and have been raised by my aunt and uncle who have been like a second mum and dad to me. However despite how lucky I am, I felt as soon as my mum died that id grown up and that my childhood had ended. Now I suffer from seperation anxiety disorder where I’m scared my aunt and uncle will die if I’m not at home and therefore am terrified about sleeping away from home, panic attacks and I’ve always been the weird kid at school as I’m always thinking and worrying.
    I think the death of my mum is something ill never get over and will always affect me but its also something that I feel has made me stronger and more level headed than most teenagers my age. I appreciate what ive got and what I had and hope one day that the empty feeling inside me will be filled one day when I have my own children.
    I don’t know what other affects the death had on me but I try to look at the positives. I mean I’m lucky, Ive experienced 2 sets of parents, I’m close to my auntie and my uncle is more of a dad to me than my real one ever was! :)

  • lindsay pitt September 6th, 2012 at 2:05 PM #14

    my son is 5 and just lost his father in january of 2012 suddenly of a heart attack. ever since then he has turned into this child i dont know, misbehaving and such. i know hes 5 and doesnt always listen but before his father died he was a very well behaved child, iv sent him to counseling but i dont think its working….he still continues to be disruptive in class and lies to me alot…what should i do??

  • Glenn stoker September 26th, 2012 at 10:08 AM #15

    Dear lindsay, I ran across your post while i was researching all the different psychological effects loosing my father at 10 yo via drunk driver may be having on me now 14 years later(24 y.o now). First let me say i am no psycologist but i feel i might offer some some helpfull advice. Apparently when a kid looses a parent at that age it can cause them to backslide into former habbits that they were originally broken from. Also, and also my best guess is that the little guy felt as though the majority of his disipline was being inforced by his dad, thus now that his dad is no longer around he dosent have the “disiplinary coach” that he is used to a recognizes. I think you need to eventually let him know that his behavior is not acceptable and that you are a force to be reckoned with; but dont let your temper blur the fact that his actions are more than likely a form of grief or mourning. Oh yeah, As far as counselling goes. . . I DEFINATELY advise you to KEEP HIM IN counselling. If you feel its not doing anything then try another. I know i was 5 years older when i lost my father and that may make a signifigant difference as far as what effect it had; But no one ever forced me into counselling. . . They just asked me if i wanted it and being the lost, confused, hurting, and ignorant kid that i was i denied and mom was to busy worki g to raise my brother and I to make me go. . . That is one thing i wish i could change. Dealing with that hurt, the loss. . . On my own. . . I am mentally/emotionally broken in so many ways. Not only will something like that cause depression long after, i also have ptsd. It caused me to go down hill in school and i quit some of my favorite activitys because all of my emotions aside from mad and sad seemed to be numb. I began disrespecting my mother and getting into trouble. . Its amazing the profound effects an event like that will have for years to come wotb out proper care. Im not sure any of this will help you but i felt like i needed to atleast try. I wouldnt wish the hell i went through on any kid or anyone for that matter. I know its probably hard on you aswell, but no matter what; in the end, no matter how hard this is on your son, i promise you that aslong as he has a loving and careing mother to wipe his tears away and eembrace him during his roughest moments he’ll be okay. And one more thing. Fill his ears with as many happy memories, thoughts and stories about his dad as you can after hes gotten thru the initial grieving. The more he learns about dad from your stories, the closer he will feel to him and the less he will have to always wonder about. . . . Good luck and ill pray for yall.

  • Ruben V September 29th, 2012 at 1:28 PM #16

    I just stumbled uponthis and felt I should comment…I lost my father when I was seven years old, suddenly from a massive heart attack. I still remember to this day, my mom coming in and telling us to pray for my dad because something happened although she didnt specify. I prayed my heart out that day, to no avail of course as when we arrived at the hospital we were informed he did not make it. That event changed my life then and continues to affect me everyday of my life since. I went through hell, but it was somehwat delayed as I did not begin to havemajor issues until iwas a teen. I was into drinking, drugging, crime, and sex. I was a terrible teenager and was placed on all types of antideppressants and was even arrested three times. However, thanks to an unrelenting mother who refused to see me end up in prison or the dirt, I am now a pharmacist in my first year of residency…dont get it twisted, I still struggle everyday with his loss….

  • Kurt October 7th, 2012 at 11:48 PM #17

    My mother died when i was 11 years old. She tried to kill herself by Oding on sleeping pills less than a month after we moved from New Jersey to Memphis. We celebrated my 11th birthday on October 15th in Lakeside Hospital Mental Ward. She came home at the end of October because she showed that she was getting better by caring for herself again. {putting on makeup; showering; etc}. She cut her left wrist and throat on November 10, 1982. She left a note saying that she was a bad mother and thought my sister and I would be better off without her. She was so wrong. My 15 yo sister found her and ran out of the house to the neighbor across the street and was so hysterical, we couldn’t understand what she was saying: Only that it was about mom. I went back across the street with the neighbor’s 13 yo son.

    The next thing I remember, I was in the neighbor’s recreation room in the middle of the floor playing Asteroids on their Atari 2600. Apparently I was unresponsive. After that, I remember I was asking if mom had made it like last time. She hadn’t. We buried her according to her wishes in her home town of Baltimore, MD at a Jewish Cemetery. My father took my sister and me to psychologists and counselors, but he made a very big mistake that I hope others can avoid. With each counselor and psychologist over the next six years, I went in to see the counselor first and then dad went in.

    I never told them anything except talked about baseball because I soon found out that the things I said were repeated to my father. I then got yelled at about what I had said to the shrink for the rest of the evening. There was no confidentiality because the counselors all worked for my father, not me. Counselors beware, it is not your job to tell someone that they are at fault for the problems in their lives, especially when your patient has ADHD, and has been asked all his life: What did you do to make the bully come after you. I called him a jerk and that was all the bully needed as an excuse. Do you ask every victim these questions? Do we ask rape victims what they did that got them raped? No. So why is it acceptable to ask anyone else these kinds of questions? These are the kinds of things you might tell an addict, but I never drank, nor do I do drugs. I never have and never will. If you are a counselor and you ask your patient what they did to provoke a bully or anyone else who assaults them, you should lose your license, and I hope you do. I was hit over the head by a guy who lived in my building a few years ago. I was questioned by police and at the hospital, but it wasn’t until my family called that anyone even remotely suggested that I had provoked this man who hit me over the head with a metal fence spike. Some things never change.

  • Gina October 8th, 2012 at 5:01 AM #18

    I lost my mom when I was 8 but I always knew she was going to die because she told me. Subsequently I was raises by my paternal grandmother who hated me I know because she told me. If your childhood ends with the recollection of death does that mean I never had one because I’ve always understood?
    Throughout my life I’ve been wildly successful graduating early, awards,
    even accomplished a masters degree at 22 years old. As I’ve gotten older however (35) im really starting to see how the loss is affecting me.

    Im angry at my partner for having the love and support I never did, I’m depressed and jealous, and untrusting.

    I am positive these actions will eventually sever my relationship and bring about the very thing that I fear.

  • Elizabeth Farrell October 22nd, 2012 at 9:44 PM #19

    I lost my mom at the age of 6 and have no memory of her.
    I remember things that happened when she was alive, but do not have any recall of her presence, though I’m told she was definatly there. I’t had a big impact on my life and how I was as a mother, but I would most like to know what you would classify this type of what I presume would be amnesia? I would highly appreciate it if I could have an answer to this question sent to my email.

  • Chris October 25th, 2012 at 3:17 PM #20

    I was 13 when my dad was murdered. About 8 months later, after my dad’s ‘friend’ swore an oath to look after us whilst holding my dad’s hand in the mourge (an oath he broke straight away by pointing the finger at me and saying,”he will turn against me”, my mum, little brother, me and ‘friend’ moved away from family and friends, leaving older brother behind. I felt desperately alone and felt we weren’t able to grieve properly with ‘friend’ there. I bottled everything inside and only now, 25 years later, after a trail of destruction that is my life behind me, am i able to talk about my feelings. With proffesional help i may be able to live some sort of normal life on the path i might have chose if i had received proper help after my dad’s death. My journey began about 6 weeks ago and have a long way to go, but i’ll get there, somewhere, i hope.

  • Chris October 26th, 2012 at 10:22 AM #21

    To Lindsay. Sometimes children will go back to a time when they were a bit naughty after suffering the loss of a parent. It could be something miniscule that has amplified through grief. Maybe think of something naughty that he did before his dad died and forgive him for it until it sinks in that ‘it’s not his fault’. If you’ve formed a relationship then you need to get to know your child’s feelings about it. i hope this helps x

  • Worried November 3rd, 2012 at 3:24 AM #22

    I can’t help but wonder, and search for help, and understanding. My neice just turned 14. She lost her mother due to cancer, at 3, and her father from drugs at the age of 13. She moved in with me and her uncle, bc we were not going to let her go to foster care. I can not even begin go understand her pain. She has given some trouble, which is understandable. She is getting counseling, but is telling us she wants to do drugs to take away the pain … Like she did before she came with us. We love her with all our hearts. I don’t know how to get her help, b/c I don’t think couceling is enough, and I can’t find many teens that have lost both parent, been exsposed to drugs, and a drug life.

  • Gabriela November 4th, 2012 at 8:59 PM #23

    I lost my father @ 9 to cancer and my mother @ 15 to heart problems. I moved in with an aunt I hardly knew immediately after my mothers death. I was a mess. I had lost everything I was accustomed to and thrown into a family structure with rules and ideas so foreign to me. I was lonely and moaned not only my parents but also the life I was used to. I was miserable and could only think about leaving my aunts house. I didn’t. I had no where else to go, so I dug deep into my own life. I shut out my extended family because I didn’t feel they understood what I was experiencing and began behavior that went against everything my parents instilled in me. Why? It was an escape… Eventually, I learned the hard way that I wasn’t much happier either. By this time, I was 18 and I started to really reflect on my life and my goals. I eventually got a job, got married, had kids, and had a normal life, but I was still plagued by my childhood. I went to counseling and got help for my anxiety, depression, and ptsd. All that resulted from my parents death… I now see my past as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit… I should be a statistic, yet I have a normal family filled with love and my life is only getting better.

    Your nice will have a hard time dealing with the death of her parents… But its all about the support after that will make her or break her… I received almost none and relied only on myself and had a hard transition into adulthood… Thankfully, as an adult I have more support systems then I can count and it has allowed me to really focus on healing the scars left so long ago. I am now a better mother, wife, person than ever before.

  • AC November 9th, 2012 at 9:15 AM #24

    How about when the teen is not emotionally moved by the death of the main parent providing care. Or hAs a reaction that would be opposite of what would be appropriate for the given situTION (feeling happy not sadness) It’s hard to find research like this or information about this sort of response to an emotional trauma . a year after the passing, there were physical manifestations in the form of intestinal inflammation. There needs to be grief that must be dealt with, but how? Those emotions are hidden away somewhere. locked with a key and surrounded by a few steel walls.

  • NW November 27th, 2012 at 9:07 AM #25

    My best friend lost his dad when he was 3. He was the youngest of his siblings. Now 32, he has always seemed to have trouble being in relationships. He also had a few issues with substance abuse. He and I dated for a while (as teens), and have been talking more recently, and he still, seems to have this “mental block” whenever we seem to be getting “too close.” Is this a potential manifestation of fear from the loss of his father at such a young age? Incidentally, he just turned the same age as his dad was when he died, and seems to be having a hard time with that. IDK..I just want to be able to be there for him in any way I can, but would like a bit more information to try to understand him and his mental state better. Thanks

  • Leonard December 5th, 2012 at 11:02 PM #26

    @Rosie Well how about being an adult who was adopted (shortly after birth) and then experiencing the loss of a parent. Sounds like I got dealt a great hand.

  • Paula January 9th, 2013 at 7:11 PM #27

    Get your niece involved in a church youth group, surrender the whole situation to god. Find a good therapist fo her, that is important, hang in there that is a heart breaking situation.

  • Mark January 13th, 2013 at 9:23 AM #28

    Its not a competition

  • Katie February 3rd, 2013 at 4:34 AM #29

    My mother died when I was nine and as an adult of 34 I am still dealing with the consequences. Not just of the loss of my mother, but also of the subsequent neglect and verbal abuse I experienced at the hands of my narcissistic, emotionally immature father. He never re-married and intimate relationships were not normalised in my household. I found it very difficult to form relationships as an adult because of an acute fear of rejection (related to the death) and because of extreme feelings of low worth (related to my father’s lack of empathy and verbal abuse. I agree with Joey’s comment that children who lose a parent would feel ‘different.’ I did, and also subconsciously interpreted the loss as something I somehow deserved, which must have meant that I was a bad person.
    On another note, this forum is about the death of a parent, not divorce. When I was a kid some people even hypothesized to me that going through parents’ divorce would be worse for kids than bereavement. Well, please don’t trivialize the pain of the bereaved in this way. It is greatly insensitive.

  • Fran February 16th, 2013 at 1:35 PM #30

    I am now 75 years of age and lost my father to a heart attack when I was 14. I realize I am still looking in many ways for the comfort and support that was not forthcoming or available at the time. Until he died our family had lived a very stable life. My dad owned a small business in a midwestern town and my mother was a homemaker to him, my two older sisters and me. After his sudden and unexpected death, my mother took over his business and I was left to keep house, make meals etc. after my sisters returned to college. I felt abandoned and neglected and was told by mother’s friends that I was now to “take care of her”. In my heart I wanted someone to take care of me and in thinking that, I felt selfish. I was the first of my friends to lose a parent and they had no idea what to say to me. No one else did either. Fortunately, I have lived a very productive life: college, graduate school, a career with hospitalized children and many friends and have lived happily for many years on the East Coast. I have had one long term relationship of over twenty years that recently ended with his increasing dementia and a return to his children. I have no children. I have solid and loving relationships with several nieces and nephews. All my life, with my fear of abandonment and responsibility, I have placed importance on learning how to survive on my own and have been successful at that. It has been what has gotten me through. But I do wonder if my life could have been even richer if I had received some counseling and comfort and support at the time. I just felt so alone and taking care of myself seemed the solution. One of my sisters was killed in an automobile accident some years later, leaving behind a husband and four children, continuing the family experience with sudden death. I have been in much successful therapy for many things over the years but feel I’ve never gotten to the bottom of this early loss and wonder if it is too late to explore it more fully. At my age now, I experience the regular loss of friends and family and each one takes me back to that early devastating loss.
    Yes, Katie, I agree, do not compare death to divorce–each leaves its’ very different tangled mess to deal with.

  • Christopher February 17th, 2013 at 9:02 PM #31

    I was 11 when my father committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. I was the one who found his body. I had to keep the true cause of his death a secret from everyone except immediate family members. My mother then started abusing drugs again heavily and died from an overdose when I was 15. My younger brother and I then went into foster care. As much as I tried to tell myself that I was alright I realized years later that I was never alright. The losses I experienced left me deeply scarred in ways I never even realized. It made me feel not only different, but completely alienated. I never talked to anyone about what I experienced (aside from the therapists I was forced to see while in foster care).

    As an adult now, many years after all of this, I am still haunted by my losses. There’s still a part of me that is a child crying for those who will never come back. Deep inside there is still that child who screamed for his daddy to come back to him as he watched his mother give him mouth to mouth. The blood was everywhere. Those images can never be erased.

    I needed someone to hug me and tell me everything would be alright. I needed someone to hold me and tell me there was nothing I could have done to stop it. I needed someone to comfort me. No one ever did. No one who knows me now knows any of the things that I went through. No one knows the pain and lonliness I felt. I learned to take care of myself as best I could. I didn’t really do a good job. There is an emptiness inside of me that can never truly be filled. I needed someone to talk to. I still do. But even if I could I know I wouldn’t.

  • Lucinda Hamilton February 19th, 2013 at 10:58 AM #32

    My father died in front of me from a heart attack when I was almost 7. I was an only child, and have no memory of him before that day. I do have some memories of that day but not a lot. I am now 65 years old and think I want the memories but still don’t remember. Was hypnotized once by a doctor but remember he said I would remember what I wanted to remember and forget what I didn’t. Anyone else have a memory block.

  • KIMBERLY BLACK February 19th, 2013 at 8:57 PM #33

    I lost my mother at age 11, i helped my Dad raise my lil bro. and lil sister, I had three older siblings, of which I have only an older sister , both my brother and one other sister were killed in auto accidents, I was only three when my then 11 yr old sister died, and my bro died when i was in my late thirties, i am 48, none the less…time tells all….grief never leaves…and reminders are part of a life time. My thing is how I can see all the personality problems I have had since the death of my mom…..I have always tried to “take” care of everyone and nurture their feelings, I have always wanted to be taken care of loved, hugged and nurtured….becoming almost disabled by these feelings, I had four children , they all have problems, three oldest are women with children, one son youngest, no children, he’s 27…..anyway I have 10 grands. But my feelings of guilt for their problems, and my own need for nurturing are crippling my life.

  • KIMBERLY BLACK February 19th, 2013 at 8:59 PM #34

    my dad died in 2003, it’s 2013, we were very close

  • James February 22nd, 2013 at 3:12 AM #35

    My mother committed suicide when I was 4, and there are still a lot of loose ends surrounding it. I spent my entire life thinking that she killed herself and building a better relationship with my father. Through my high school years I was extremely rebellious to my dad because of the awful relationship between me and my step mother. I feel because of my behavior, ruined this marriage. Afterwards, we slowly rebuilt our relationship to where now it’s better but kind of shaky. Once I turned eighteen on a visit to my distant maternal grandparents, they told me there was a lot I didn’t know. My mother showing them people were following her, stress from my fathers addictions, and I gambling problem that I was unaware of. When the FBI did their investigation, they said that the whole situation was bizarre. There is even accounts on record of me at four years old saying there was a strange man lurking around the outside of the house. This is still an outgoing investigation, but it has gone cold. I have no idea what really happened, but it seems like my father had some hand in this. Now as a college student, I have a much better relationship with my dad. We have never gone into detail about the situation, and every time I ask he doesn’t tell me anything relevant. This has put me in an awful position. I don’t know where to confront him about it and risk destroying the one solid family relationship I have left, or just let it go and go on living with the person who could have caused all of this pain for me. I’ve gone on just ignoring it, trying to better myself and get through school. It is still a large burden on me emotionally and I am completely torn. Every time I’ve gone to a counselor I complete the course and they say I’m alright, but I really don’t think so. I feel like I’m going to go through life without being able to trust anyone, and will die lonely like I’ve always been…

  • Scott Homer February 22nd, 2013 at 3:33 PM #36

    Hello Lucinda,
    I lost my dad to a sudden and unexpected heart attack when I was 8 years old. I can remember everything about that day as if it was yesterday. But like you I cannot remember anything about my dad before that day. I was kept away from the funeral to protect me but I have always felt angry about this although I know my mom was doing what she thought was best at the time.
    I’m 42 now and still have problems as I don’t think I ever truly grieved.
    I’ve managed to track down some of my dads old friends via email and have obtained some good info, simple things like what his favorite drink, food, TV program was etc.
    can’t explain why I can’t remember anything myself unless your memory shuts everything out to cope.

  • Lady Harp March 5th, 2013 at 8:34 AM #37

    There is so much pain on this website, it is devestating. I am 53 years old, female, and lost my father at age 7. He was sick as long as I can remember, and did not have the time of day for me. His death resulted in terrible nightmares and a fear of heights for some odd reason. I kept dreaming that I climbed the stairs in our home. At the top I was standing in front of closed elevator doors. When they opened, my partially decomposed father came after me. The nightmares subsided, but I am left with a fear of heights and now that I play a musical instrument, this fear has translated into performance anxiety. As I realized the origin of my fears, I have begun to research the effect of a parent’s death. I was surprised how much material I found on the web. This subject is finally being explored and studied in great detail. Apparently boys and girls are affected differently. Girls tend to be successful and fiercely self reliant. Boys tend to manifest their grief in more disruptive behaviours, especially if they are young(around 5 years old). It also depends wether it is a mother or father you lose, and the manner in which you lose them. No doubt it is a journey and my heart goes out to all of you who travelled it with me. Blessings!

  • sarah March 9th, 2013 at 11:16 PM #38

    thanks chris for sharing your story helped me alot.. my dad committed suisude when i was 13 and i too bottled everything inside untill it came out itself. again in destructive ways. i an 24 now and started recovery about a year ago it is hard but freeing at the same time. its just nice to know that i am not alone.. i fell that way alot in relation to this topic.

  • M.McG March 15th, 2013 at 4:47 PM #39

    A lot of these sharings come from a very deep place, and I feel that it is good sometimes for us to share the feelings caused by our losses. And these losses can have untoward effects on our lives.

    I’m currently doing some personal research into gender constructs in society, and looking into androgyny, as I have always found myself with quite masculine traits, as well as feminine (I am female).

    I lost my dad at the age of 13 to heart failure, and my mother, who already had issues with alcohol abuse, became more dependant on alcohol, which resulted in my siblings both leaving home (one through choice at 16, one by social services at 10) when I was 14. I am wondering if the fact that I was left to pick up the pieces of my mother’s shattered life, left me becoming the husband, the brother, the son, the father, that she no longer had (deceased, lost contact, taken away, deceased). I’m unsure if there has been any research conducted into this area. I am trying to search for it (hence how I came across this page), but id anyone could inform me of anything, I’d really appreciate it.

  • Heather March 26th, 2013 at 2:44 PM #40

    I’m not really looking for advice about my own life, as much as advice for my boyfriend. His dad died of cancer when he was 16 so it was just him and his mom from ages 16-21 (and we’re both almost 22). Without warning (and they think it was a stroke), his mom died and my boyfriend found her dead the next morning. He was a wreck the first few months because he was suddenly an orphan but at an older age rather than as a child, and I tried to be there as best as I could but I feel like he needs more.
    It’s been about 8 months since her death and he finally acknowledges that he should talk to a therapist but is there anything else I can do or suggest for him? I don’t want him having a breakdown in the future that could have been prevented or at least subdued. Sorry it’s so long, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Sarah March 28th, 2013 at 7:54 PM #41

    I had a question for the people that commented on this site. I see that some of you loss your parents at an early age and I would like to know your perspective on how you turned out in the sense of feeling lost or incomplete or having resentment. I lost my mom at the age of twenty and it has been very tough for me. But I am very worried about my brother that was only 6 when it happened. I need to know that in one way or another he will be ok. He is struggling with school, doesn’t want to do homework, it may be because mom used to help him with that. And our father loves him, but he doesn’t have much patience and can be authoritative at times. I am away at college most of the time and I am afraid he will not be ok when he grows up because he doesn’t have that warm comfort that comes from a mother’s love. If anyone has some helpful input on the our situation I would really appreciate your perspective.

  • Christopher April 3rd, 2013 at 4:15 PM #42

    @ Sarah I was 11 when I lost my dad and 15 when I lost my mom. I do have strong feelings of being lost and incomplete. My feelings of resentment stem from the fact that they were responbile for thier own deaths. If I had someone to help me encourage me and just be there through the years I probably would have had a better time dealing with it. But that is my case. Everyone is different. Your brother has you even if you’re not always physically there for him. I recommend that you encourage him as much as possible to talk about your the loss and his feelings. Let him know he’s not alone. There are support groups for young people who lost a parent. I attened one once and it was very helpful. I’m sure your brother will be ok because he has you and your father. It’s not going to be easy but even if you’re there for him he will be ok.

  • Tattoo jimmy April 4th, 2013 at 6:24 PM #43

    I grew up in a home with lots of domestic abuse. i have 4 sisters and I was the only one never physically harmed. My dad was in the navy and my mother was a severe alcoholic. While she loved me very much my father was cold and unsympathetic. To this day he has never complimented me or told me he loves me. They got divorced when I was 10 and that was basically when the trouble began. my first crime was that summer when I stole $1200 from my moms boyfriend and used it to buy rare comics. She died when I was 12 from acute ethanol toxicity “alcohol poisoning”. Shortly there after I was kicked out of 2 private schools within a month, failed the 6th grade , (straight a’s prior, spelling bees, chess club, you name it) started fighting all the time, became increasingly violent and destructive, etc.. My first time arrested was age 14 and have been arrested dozens of times since. I started doing drugs around then and dropped out of school at 15. I was very sexually active, with little regard for personal safety. I’ve done a total of about 6 years behind bars and I’m 27 now. I did 5 years from age 17 to 22 for malicious wounding ( Virginia). I got out, did good for a while, then started with drugs again and eventually started shooting heroin. I’m practically clean now ((except for pot and alcohol)trust me, it’s an improvement). Doctors try to label me as, sociopathic, bi-polar, narcissistic, anti-social, attention deficit.. Maybe I’m all of those, I don’t know. I do know that I was a good kid with a family at one point, and I was okay until my family disintegrated. I acted out a little when they divorced, but when she died I went bonkers. I think it’s because I went from being loved, with positive and negative reinforcement from my mother, to an absent, purely negative father. To this day I have had no lasting relationship, although its very easy for me to meet girls and make friends. My advice to you is to fully support your brother and don’t abandon him. He needs you to help him in this crucial stage of his development.

  • Deb April 7th, 2013 at 11:27 PM #44

    Does anyone know how we, the public, can get hold of this article? I would really be interested to read it.

    My dad died when I had just turned 3, and coupled with the fact that I have “Insecure Attachment” issues with mum, I’d like to know what their studies unearthed.

    I empathise with those still struggling with issues… you’re not alone. That’s so cliche, but it’s either that or a long-winded monologue that will end up confusing rather than helping.

    Regards

  • Deb April 11th, 2013 at 2:05 AM #45

    I spent some time reading through the posts and wanted to comment on the memory issue for those who were aged 5 or 6.

    I was speaking to my brother, who had just turned 6 two months before my dad’s death, and was surprised to hear him say he has no memories of dad or anything else before the day dad died. His first memory was of one of our mum’s friends taking him shopping to buy a toy car, whilst dad’s funeral was in progress.

    There’s definitely a theme here. I was too young, so I have no memory at all of him. To be honest, I don’t know WHAT my first memory is – I have a very “chaotic” mind…. Dr. Gabor Mate calls it “scattered mind” which is also the name of his book. It’s referring to ADHD, amongst other “disorders”.

    I’d recommend you researching the author on YouTube if interested in how attachment (incl. loss) to parents can have lasting effects on children. Very informative.

    Blessings.

  • Deb April 11th, 2013 at 6:23 PM #46

    Apologies, I wanted to add.

    My brother didn’t realise his memory fell on the day of dad’s funeral, mum recalled the event when I was telling her about my bro’s lack of any memory of our father.

    Sad.

    Or perhaps it’s normal for children not to have memories of anything before a cerain age? Maybe the capacity for laying down (long term, conscious) memories can only occur at a certain stage of brain development?

    I’m sure this will become more apparent as others comment on their memories/ages.

  • Deb April 11th, 2013 at 7:51 PM #47

    Jimmy

    I just read your post (apologies – that’s my ADHD :)) I don’t have a long attention span so have read more than half the posts, and just read yours.

    I just wanted to tell you – ADHD, and a few of the other disorders you mentioned above (if not all of them) occur due to your environment and sensitivity (which is passed on by your genes).

    You can research this – try looking under neuro (i.e. neuropsychology, neuropsychiatrist, neuroscience, etc.). Start with Dr. Gabor Mate on YouTube and if you’re interested enough your research will branch out from there.

    I’m currently seeing a neuropsychologist who is the ONLY therapist who has been able to target what’s wrong, why, and how to right it. EMDR is good, as is bio/neurofeedback. She doesn’t like to assign labels, believing that everything is a result of the brains development (which is based on our environment (experiences, attachment, etc.), and to our genes (again.. the sensitivity gene).

    Regards and good luck – you’ve done really well from some really challenging times… don’t give up.. and there’s nothing wrong with you (also research addiction, and anti-social behaviour/violence, acting out, etc., from the same author for further understanding).

    Peace

  • miriam2013 May 7th, 2013 at 2:42 PM #48

    My partner’s 14 year old lost her mother to cancer when she was 8 and she resents the presence of me and my 9 year old daughter in their lives to the point where she gets her way and he visits us but we no longer spend time all together. He gives in to her but it won’t help either of them in the ling run. She is attention-seeking and very materialistic. She reported him go the authorities almost to show him the power she has. She seems lost but I need to think of my own little girl. We tried to be there for them but I feel out my depth in such a complex situation. He isn’t a very open-minded father and at 14 she has come out as gay to her peers. They cope by ignoring the important issues. After 3 years, I don’t hold out much hope other than keeping my relationship casual with him. He won’t leave the house he shared with his late wife 6.5 years on and his daughter told me to my face that she is getting the house. His mother is very dominant in their lives, also widowed. My instincts tell me to keep them all at arms length now. I love him so much but wish I had not gotten involved.

  • Todd W May 9th, 2013 at 8:14 PM #49

    I lost my mother when I was 7 years old. I’m 25 now. She committed suicide right in front of me. I never knew who my father was. I also found my sixth month old brother when dead in his crib when I was 4 years old. I was raised in foster care until I was 18. I have no family at all. I’ve just survived since I was 18. I joined the military and was discharge with borderline personality disorder. I’ve been homeless a lot. I’ve never had a home. Even now I’am facing homelessness again. I have thought about killing myself lately. Something I have no thought of for quite some time. I have never had friends or anything. I have never realized how much of a big deal this is until recently. I won’t go too much into detail. I was sexually molested shortly after my mother died and I never told anyone about it until I was 21. I’m a good person and get told this a lot. I just wish I could be happy and not feel alone all the time. I miss my mother all the time. Not as much as I use to. I wish I could have had a normal life. I never know what to do with my life because I feel like I have nothing to offer. It’s just me and that’s all I’ve ever had. I turned 25 a few weeks ago and that in itself is saddening. My mother was 25 years old when she killed herself. I was in the second grade when it happened. I just want to go back to college and do something with my life but I don’t know how to. I really don’t. There has to be a scholarship or a way for me to go to college. I have never owned a car or had my own place because I’ am too unstable to acquire any of these things. The things I want to do in my life, I cannot because of my circumstances. I’ve always wanted to be a hollywood actor or learn to play the piano, Alas, I cannot because my mind is always focused on surviving. You may be wondering how I’ am writing on the internet right now, I’ m at a friends house, but cannot stay here for much longer. I was always good at video games growing up and when I was in the military. Sometimes I still play when I get the chance, but my life revolves around surviving. I have a very high I.Q. as well. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in the foster home growing up also along with Major Depression Disorder. I’ m suppose to be on medicine, however, I refuse to take medicine because I can make myself better if I want. It’s very hard because I cannot hold a job or anything. I want to love the world and show everyone my love even through all of my hardships and strife. =/ I want to live. I’ m tired of just surviving. I’ve never written anything like this before on the internet but I’ m reaching out to anyone that is willing to help me in any way because I want to make a difference in this world. I pretty much keep to myself but lately I just want to let the world know who I am and help change the world and my life if I had some help. Im tired of running from everything. I have gotten through a lot but things just keep getting thrown my way and I’ m ready for support. =/ P.S. It’s not as easy as you may think. Everyone is different.

  • aimee-sue May 10th, 2013 at 12:24 PM #50

    I was 4 when I lost my dad. I didn’t understand it at the time but I remember vividly the last time I saw him, I have frequent dreams about it. Ten years on, im 14 now, and its only gotten worse for me, while everyone else has gotten over it. I self harm a lot because I can’t handle the stress of everyday life. I am severely depressed and suffering panic attacks three to four times a week. I also suffer with anxiety issues and trichotillomania. All because my dad died ten years ago.

  • Dorrie May 11th, 2013 at 1:02 AM #51

    I may be young but I’m willing to help you :) if you get the chance email me. My names Dorrie. Stay strong until then :) and usually the people who are the most hurt tend to be the brightest as in smarts and in heart.

  • emma May 17th, 2013 at 3:12 PM #52

    about a year ago i lost my grandad he was the main father figure in my life.It was due to a heart attack and i was the one who found him.i was 11 years old the time and i was devistated and lost , i thought if i wished hard enough he would come back he never did!
    people tell me to “get over it” but its very hard to even accept they are never coming back.it is still painful now just thinking about it.

  • Lama1111 May 24th, 2013 at 5:50 PM #53

    I am currently a 43 year old female. My father died of cancer when I was almost 5 years old. After he died, my family was very dysfunctional. I am the youngest of 5, the oldest being 13 years older than I. My Mother worked from 5 pm until 3 am or longer; and my once safe home became the ‘Party drug house’ for my older siblings who had not an ounce of concern for my young mind. My Mother was not their except as a provider as my Parents did not have any money prior to my Father’s death. My childhood was filled with fear, anxiety, and I never felt loved. My Mother tried to make it up to me later in life, but the damage is done and I cannot seem to overcome and rise above all the bad things that I had happen to me. I was molested as a child (after Father was gone) and I was teased in school. I have tried EVERYTHING to better my psyche….but I always come back to the old scripts. I think I give up…it is just a part of my DNA now and there is no healing. My Mother past away 9 years ago; before she died I could not bring myself to feel, about 5 years later the anger has been very hard to deal with. It is like I don’t feel guilty now for being pissed at the lack of concern for me as a child. My Mother and I were close in my 20′s up until she died when I was 34, but it doesn’t do anything about the past. I am at a loss…I guess the feelings of being doomed will never go away and I am tired of dealing with the repetitive circle of failure that is my life…who would I be if my Father didn’t die??? I often wonder :(

  • Elizabeth June 4th, 2013 at 7:30 PM #54

    I lost my dad when i was 12 years old. he died while being restrained in the psychiatric wing of the V.A. hospital they caused him to have a massive heart attack. i was so numb from that age till almost 17 years old when it finally hit me that he was dead and not coming back. my mom got sick 7 months after his death but she told us she was fun then my cousin died of a drug overdose that same year my mom was sent to the hospital for complete renal failure. she never told me and my sister how bad it was until she told us she was too sick to get a new kidney. she stayed alive for mine and my younger sister’s sake and died 9 months ago. i do have to say losing a parent as a child was much harder on me then when my mom past and i was 24 about to turn 25. i was ready for her to go and i was prepared for it, but my dad’s death was a shock and i am still grieving over his death more then i am my mother’s which makes me feel like a terrible daughter.

  • KATHRYN OGLE June 6th, 2013 at 11:11 AM #55

    When I was 6 years old my father had a fatal heart attack in front of me. I am 62 and I can still clearly see him dying – falling down on his bed with his eyes wide open staring at nothing. My mother then was unavailable mostly to me and my 2 sisters because of religion. She got very fanatical. I started having sex at a young age – doing whatever I could to find a guy who would love me. I made horrible decisions with choosing men in my adult life. I put up with so much emotional and verbal abuse. I was a very intelligent and beautiful woman (still have some traces :) )… but didn’t realize my worth – no self esteem and horrible abandonment issues.. My husband of 32 yrs (very troublesome marriage) who I had 2 sons with committed suicide 6 yrs ago.. and all of that horrible loss, abandonment and feeling of rejection came back. I know my dad did not mean to die, but I felt his absence all of my life and always will it seems.. It seems like some people just get so so much emotional pain in life, but the lucky ones had someone that helped them at a young age deal with it in a positive way and so had a much more satisfying and meaningful life. So sad and sorry for all of your pain… I can relate to much of it…

  • Bridget C. June 15th, 2013 at 11:27 PM #56

    My dad passed away in the cardiac center of Good Sam. Hospital when I was 9. A few years before that he had a massive stroke that left him In a wheelchair, unable to walk because he couldn’t move his right arm or leg. When he passed, I was okay with it. Almost emotionless at the viewing and funeral. Every year since then has went down hill. Me and my mom always had a distance relationship, even when I was a young kid, her abusive relationships were always more important. I being stuck in a few of them. My grades dropped, I got lost in self- harm, suicidal attempts, depression and social anxiety.
    Me and my moms relationship crumbled when I was 14 and I moved in with my older half- brother, whom I’d seen once since my dad passed, on my 15th birthday. I’m 17 now, I brought my grades up and even started attempting to plan a future and college. No self-harm anymore but the depression, the suicidal thoughts, anxiety, there still here. By law I’m basically an orphan. No contact with my moms side of the family, barely any of my dads. occansionally ever 4-5 months i get a hi text from my mom. my family fell apart. And honestly if my dad would have still been around, I’d be a COMPLETLY different person.

  • Trista July 9th, 2013 at 1:48 PM #57

    My daughter was 2 when her dad died so she knew of him but she didnt really know him like my son did. It hurts me so much that her dad isnt here to see her grow up and I am really concerned about that. I have been in a couple relationships so that she can have a positive male influence in her life but I dont know if Im doing far more harm than good. I love my daughter with all my heart and I want her to have a happy life I dont know what to expect please help thank you

  • admin2 July 9th, 2013 at 4:33 PM #58

    Hi Trista, thank you for commenting! You can look for a therapist who may be able to help you in your situation here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html

    Best wishes and warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Ana July 13th, 2013 at 12:47 AM #59

    My dad died from cancer when i was 8. I remember the regular stays with family members which looking back i know were due to the chemo cycles. This went on for about six months with an attempt at surgery. The last memories i have of my dad was his birthday and then the last time he left for treatment the next week.

    Through all of this, there was no talk of his illness or that he could/would die-pancreatic cancer has a very low survival rate. I think this has impacted me all my life and i have a hard time trusting people and my mother in particular due to this and her behavior following his death when her main enjoyment came from drinking, partying-starting at his wake-and sneaking around with some of best his friends.

    Emotions were not something that have ever been expressed in my family, there were no attempts at therapy either. The day my mom told up he died she took us to the park and asked if we wanted to talk about it but that was the extent of it. As a result we are all really distant from each other. My brothers were 3 and 5 so hopefully they were too young to remember some of this but i also think that they have their own emotional and substance abuse issues today that came out of it. I generally avoid mentioning my dad all together because of the unresolved feelings i still have.

    Now, as a 27 year old graduate student, I’m successful but I’ve never been really happy or had many friends since childhood and often wonder if this and some of my depression and social isolation is tied to my dad’s death.

    Luckily, one of the men my mom took up with turned out to be nice and has stayed in contact after she got bored with him so i do have a father figure. My adult perspective has cast an even more negative light on the events though.

    Maybe as one post mentioned, it is time to talk to someone. I just don’t know if I’d know where to start. I can hardly remember my dad before he was sick.

  • Denise September 3rd, 2013 at 6:30 AM #60

    I was five years old when I lost my father to a very aggressive form of cancer. I am forty one now. It wasn’t until the past decade or so that I truly started to understand the full impact that his death has had on my life and on me as a person. First of all I have huge abandonment and trust issues. You see, when my father died I not only lost him, but my family basically fell apart after that. I lost my dad, my siblings, and in some ways my mother too. We went from being a large blended family of two second marriages to just me and mom seemingly overnight. ( though it was really over a couple of years) My dad was the glue that held both sides of our family together and once he died, it quickly fell to pieces. To make matters worse my mother simply wasn’t there for me emotionally. Her behavior after his death was caustic, plain and simple. I was an accidental child in their marriage… The product of a botched vasectomy. So when he died those overwhelming feelings of resentment towards me were loud and clear. She was angry. She was mad at God for taking him , mad at my dad for dying, and mad at me for being being alive. I was just another responsibility that she didn’t want or ask for. I was so little when this happened :( i grew up with such an overwhelming feeling of guilt. Of course, I didnt understand why at the time. I tried to make up for being such a burden to my mother by being the perfect child. I never got in trouble, always got good grades, did whatever I was told. Most importantly I learned at a very early age to never ask mother for anything. But maybe that’s because if she was standing in the kitchen and I asked her for a glass of water she practically threw it at me. No sir, you didnt ask mom for anything. So to say that I have self esteem and self worth issues is an understatement. I feel that no one will every really love me. But I guess that’s to be expected when your entire family leaves you and hell, even your own mother didn’t want you.

  • krista September 8th, 2013 at 6:47 PM #61

    I was 6 years old when my mommy died, it was a car accident I was sitting in the front seat, I heard screaming…but that’s it, after she died I was molested and lived with relatives for a very short time, when I was 12 my daddy got married, life became better…and I deal with abandonment issues as well as bipolar, but i’m a strong cookie and can deal with anything…peace out!

  • Reese September 16th, 2013 at 6:54 PM #62

    My mom died when I was 10 from heart a heart attack that happened overnight. She died the following morning. I feel like a handled it better then some kids would have. I’m 17 now, a guy in high school whose a junior. It was still VERY hard for me but I feel like I handled it to the best of my ability. I didn’t turn in to a drug addict or delinquent or anything. But we were so close, closer then I was and am with my dad. I loved her so much. In my bedroom on my nightstand there’s a picture of her and I and on the frame it says “No Ordinary Mom”. I look at that picture every day. I’m not sure if it desensitizes me or if it helps me remember the good times we had. And just a little side note, since then, I’ve moved away from where I used to live and live an hour west, and I left behind all my friends pretty much and started out on a clean slate as a freshman in high school, as a new student. But now, 7 years later, I’m starting to wonder a bit. How has all this affected me socially? I wonder, how would I have been different? I would call myself a definite extrovert, but I’m also shy sometimes and sometimes awkward, usually not, but still. I’m pretty self-conscious and that makes me have social anxiety sometimes…..like I wonder if I’m this way because of what happened in my childhood, on top of moving away. I sometimes have a fear of rejection. Sometimes I don’t take jokes very well when people are messing with me, although it’s much much better than what I used to be when I first moved in. I can be pretty sensitive sometimes. I have a sensitive approach to a lot of things. I’m wondering if all of this is because of what I went through as a younger child with her suddenly passing away.

    Any thoughts? Thanks

  • Julianna September 16th, 2013 at 8:02 PM #63

    My dad died when I was 9 from cancer and 2 years later my 21 year old brother committed suicide. I can recall very little from that period of my life but I can recall how ashamed and embarrassed I felt. I don’t recall grieving properly. My mother hid her grief, never encouraged open expression of feelings or the like. She was physically absent because of her work committments and emotionally absent because she didn’t want to confront the reality of the situation and was happy to just sweep it all under the carpet. She was riddled with shame. I began abusing myself by drinking at 12 and by 13 I started using drugs. This continued until I was 18 when I voluntarily admitted myself into a rehab unit for help. I was a very troubled young girl and yet no-one really cared and I was never offered any counseling or therapy to help me overcome my problems. I felt so alone, abandoned and isolated. I then married a man with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (didn’t know it them of course) and allowed myself to be subjected to verbal and psychological abuse for years. I am now 50 and struggling immensely to find my true self. I have been on this healing journey for just on 12 months now and can still cry rivers of gut wrenching tears as if my father had just died yesterday. The pain is still so raw and hurtful. I know I have to push through this to emerge out the other side healed but there are times that I just feel like pushing the painful feelings back into the deepest crevices of my mind so that I don’t have to deal with them. Who would ever think that the death of a parent and sibling would have such a long lasting detrimental effect and influence life choices and behavior. Back in the day when it happened to me there were very few support services and things like this were generally overlooked. Irregardless of the support, it is a life changing event which no one else can understand.

  • jacq October 20th, 2013 at 7:21 PM #64

    My 4yr olds barely there father died of an overdose last month. My child almost never asks about him. What and when or not do i tell him. Or do i just try and find a good man now.

  • Pal October 22nd, 2013 at 5:05 PM #65

    My father dies when I was 5 and I recall a genuine sense of loss, confusion, mourning. At seven, I awoke one morning and, as if the moment of clarity had come to me in my sleep, I realized that I was the only master of my life and that no one would pay all that much attention to the early loss of my father. Essentially, I had faced the worst childhood fear that a child can face and somehow, two years later, life marched on. That early insight sustained me over a lifetime and led on to a highly successful career, no depression or other signs of mental disturbance and a long and sustaining marriage and family life. In Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent book David and Goliath, he notes that a surprising number of successful people (English Prime Ministers struck me) have successful lives since at an early age they are forced to deal with adversity — it either overpowers them, or it forces them to compensate.

  • Lorraine R November 9th, 2013 at 5:17 AM #66

    Two of our students recently lost their mother in a tragic accident. The two students are very special to me. I would like to give them a gift that would be special to them in remembrance of their mom.
    Does anyone have suggestions?
    They are a boy (8) and a girl (10)

  • Sally November 12th, 2013 at 2:29 PM #67

    Lorraine, did you know the mother? Is there something you remember about her yourself that would link to the children? A colour she liked or a hobby, something that might hold a memory for them – or maybe a special shell or symbolic item that they can hold a memory of?

    ————————–

    I am 43 years old and the death of my father when I was 12 has shaped who I am and changed my life forever. Sometimes the resulting behaviours were positives in my life, sometimes they have resulted in deep fears and insecurities. A mixed bag of experiences that have not lead to a linear life with the usual markers of success and stability, but one that is rich with the experiences of being human.

    Loss is something we inherently fear, I believe this to be true, losing someone at a young age takes away the sense of innocence as well as security and for me it was in an instant – a sudden death, an open verdict on whether it was suicide and to this day I have no clear idea of whether it was or it wasn’t.

    He was a successfull man, full of life, creativity and generosity, he and my mother worked together, were the hub of the extended family and after he died my mother was incredible – I now believe her stoicism was hiding a broken heart which couldn’t even bare to open and talk about him with me or my sister who was 2 years older. So we continued, I shed no tears until I was 24, as hard as I tried to contact the feelings I new I had, the event become more and more surreal, separate from ‘real life’ although of course it was the most profound reality of all.

    Underneath my incredible work ethic at school and beyond and the determination to bring all outsiders into communal events, my ongoing desire to accept the unacceptables in life, to strive to provide for my family, to prevent any and all instability – yes I think I decided I had super powers! In the split moment I took on a role and the role was to ‘be in control’ and protect.

    The undercurrants of emotion ran deep and became visible through anxiety attacks, usually during ‘normal’ stressfull times, where anxiety or nerves would be expected or sadness, but for me these emotions took on huge proportions and I believe I began to expect too much from myself and lose a sense of what normal expression was and processing of emotions. I still to this day, process my emotions mainly in private, alone, where I can feel and think whatever I like, with no concern for rejection, shocking people or somehow being overwhelmed at ‘revealing’ my vulnerability.

    I realised I had not grieved properly around the age of 24 and went someway to doing this, by now the loss of my father was having an effect on my identity as I grew up and changed. You still seek that relationship, its natural to seek a role model or elder, I never learnt to fully replace this need with other ways or people.

    I lost my mother when I was 37, it was again a sudden death, a brain hemorraghe and this time I felt I grieved, it felt manageable, it was a chance to experience the loss as real, in real time, not displaced or hidden, I felt my emotions and worked through my feelings.

    Still, I recognise that at each transition in my life, at times of challenge or even success the emotions of loss, displacement, not belonging, fear and childlike lostness is always present and it takes a great deal of energy to find the courage to step forward whilst I am (at times) still needing an ‘adult’ who is strong and reliable to comfort me as well as encourage me to continue. The emotional development and behaviour patterns I have are of course partly personality and partly born of experience – I was always going to be sensitive and emotional, yet I pretended not to be.

    I encourage more research into the effects of childhood bereavement for children but have no doubt that emotional support is far better these days than it was in the 1970′s.

  • David November 21st, 2013 at 7:50 AM #68

    I lost my father at the age of 11 suddenly to a stroke- alive one Saturday, within 5 days dead!!

    I know people will not believe when I tell them this

    Yes I wish this never happened to no one at this age. It was one of the toughest things I have ever had to face so far in my short life

    But it has made me appreciative life so much more and given me a perspective which none of my friends have – those who have both there parents alive and are living a normal life.

    I appreciative the small things in life way more than they do. Taking time to read a good book, sunsets and never going to bed without telling your loved ones that you love them!!

    All your stories on here have moved me to tears:( :(. You are not alone at all

  • Sarah November 24th, 2013 at 2:20 PM #69

    I lost my mother when I was 4 as well, in a fire. The worst thing is that everyone is healing but I am only truly recalling the pain and acknowledging the loss 15 years later. I can’t talk to anyone in my family because it would be opening up fresh wounds and just because I was only 4 when I lost her everyone just assumes I am not hurt which is wrong, how can I get over the loss of my own mother? regardless of whether I knew her or not. I cry at night every other day, but some days aren’t so bad. You get by, learn to deal with the pain, it never really goes away..

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  • Trina December 3rd, 2013 at 9:33 PM #71

     I witness my mom’s accidental death at the age 8 years old due to a gunshot wound to the forehead on new years eve! I remember seeing her laying on the porch with her body fluids rushing out of her mouth! I am 34 now and because I did not properly grieve or get counseling it affects me deeply. I have pride myself to not be a static but get an education and be a great mother to my kids and wife to my husband. I have associate degree in allied health, wonderful husband of 13 years and 3 beautiful kids but the loss of my mother has me on a rolla-coaster ride. I feel broken and fragmented. I feel no one understand and can identify. I don’t play victim. I have accepted her death but the damage is my hindrance. I know and feel greatness in me and know God has better for me but lost as to how to receive it! I decided to seek counseling and hopefully can start to heal emotionally! Anybody help!!

  • Terry December 10th, 2013 at 1:32 PM #72

    Dear Miriam,

    This sounds like a very complex situation, but very similar to the story in Jan Oka’s “Love Comes Softly,” made into movie starring Katherine Heigl.

    Perhaps while viewing this movie, you may find the similar seemingly impossible hardships that Katherine Heigl faced with the “partner’s” daughter. Maybe you can glean some ideas on coping, enduring, understanding and eventually overcoming the entangled emotions.

  • Tom December 25th, 2013 at 7:44 PM #73

    I lost my father when I was three in a motorbike accident. I still remember the police coming to the door and fragments of the funeral. I’m now 20 and still unable to speak openly about it. My mother was the best mother anyone could ask for, however I had a slightly troubled childhood. Looking back now I believe a large amount of these problems are routed from the trauma and absence. frustrated at the unfairness of it and undisciplined I took out a lot of it on my mother, something I regret bitterly now. I have a tendency to idolise older males, possibly due to the lack of a father figure. I’m not very close to understanding myself.

  • Dan December 28th, 2013 at 11:28 AM #74

    Lots of good sharing here, I feel sorry for those that have not been able to move on. I lost my dad when I was 4, my oldest brother when I was 12, and my mother at 13. It is a real struggle to get through but if you make it you will be tough as nails. You understand that you are not like other children and find different creative ways to deal with society. I am 48 and more successful than anyone else I grew up with. You are not alone hang in there

  • Beverly Mason, LPC, PC December 28th, 2013 at 8:50 PM #75

    We go through things in life that seem totally unnecessary and painful. However, it has been my experience that the “dark night of the soul” will always teach us some valuable lesson. it might take years to see it, but my childhood abuse made me determined and empathic for others. That’s why I am a therapist now.

  • Beverly Mason, LPC, PC December 28th, 2013 at 9:03 PM #76

    When I was 29 yrs old, with 2 little boys, I married a wonderful man. My children loved him very much. I was 5 mos pregnant with his only child when he was severely hurt from a 50 ft fall on a construction site. Four days after my 30th birthday, he died. We had been married 8 mos. His son is now 31 yrs old. All through his life he has said he would like to talk to his father – just once: to see his face- just once. Even though my current husband adopted him when he was 6, he still has a blank spot on his soul from not having known his biological father. His dad now is the only dad he has ever known and they dearly love each other. Somehow, that never fixes that hole.

  • Emmanuel December 29th, 2013 at 2:33 PM #77

    Hi

    I lost my dad when i was 11 years old. He was my world and any 11yr old’s father, a hero to my eyes. We did not have much time together because he worked alot but when we did, he always did something to make me happy, like play catch, or have a race from point A to point B, he knew i liked to run. Even though he was overweight, he still did everything to make me happy.
    He was shot 5 times in an armed robbery, my brother was shot the same night at the store, once in the head and the leg, my brother survived but spent the next 6 months of his life in hospital. The doctors said he would never be able to walk or talk again, my strong brother proved them wrong.
    My father was a big businessman that only worked the correct way, a loyal and good businessman. It was not actually a armed robbery, it was a contract killing because of jealousy from other business men in the area.
    From having everything in the world, the best cars, a nice big house, clothes and all the materialistic items money can buy, we lost everything. My mother was scared to have me in the country alone and sent me back to live with my then 18yr old sister back home overseas. The language was different, everything was different, i hated the bumpy runway i landed on to the new bed i had to sleep on at night. We did not have cars anymore, i learnt what a bus pass was and at the age of 11, i was in a new country in a new house at a new school with new people i have never seen before. I was taught that when a teacher walked in to the classroom, you would stand in your chair and greet them and had to wait until they told you to be seated, not this school…. they laughed when i did that. I missed home, i missed playing catch, i missed my old house and my old school grass hockey fields, my dad promised to come watch me one day but he was late from work and missed the game. I kept on looking at the sideline but he was not there, the only sound i could hear was the wind blowing in the pine tree’s and the parents shouting for there children, my team mates. I scored 3 goals that day and while walking home, there he was on his way to come watch my game, he was late but i was still happy he made the effort, i knew how busy he was.
    i VOWED to myself i will have to go back home to make things right 1 day, to become the big business man my dad was, to have a house again. Well guys, at the age of 22, i moved back home, took over a business and worked very hard, i am now 28 and i am a millionaire. I have everything i have ever wanted but no matter how much money you have, you can never bring a loved one back. It makes me sick and i cry every night just to see my dad 1 more time. I sometimes drive back home to my hometown which is 200km away, i sit in the hockey fields where i used to play just to listen to those pine tree’s, i lay on the field, look at the sky and listen to the wind go through those tree’s.
    I have realised that no matter how much i try to bring back the past, it will never come back, my dad is gone and i am not 11 anymore, the world has moved on and i can not seem to move on. I am trying to re live those old days when everything was simple. I miss my dad everyday, i have everything i have ever wanted and i still feel empty inside.
    I have a problem where nothing amazes or excites me anymore, fireworks, presents, christmas, birthdays or anything i did as a child does not fascinate me anymore, it is not the same as it was when i was younger. On special days like my birthday, i refuse to have a birthday or celebrate because it makes me feel wrong, i wish my dad was there. I feel like i cant sing and celebrate, i feel guilty. I have never had a birthday party after my father died. Sometimes i wish God could take me so i can be with my father in heaven, i will give all this up, the money, cars and everything just to be with my father. I only do not want to hurt my mom. It is sad but my wish is that i wish i could pass away the day after my mother passes away, i will not be able to handle the day my mom passes on.
    I believe i would make a good father because i know what it is like to live without a father and what is needed for a young boy to grow up with a father. The only fear i have is sometimes i need my alone time, i need the time to reflect on when i was young and i do not know if a wife would be able to understand that if she has never been in that siutation.
    I have realised that chasing the past does not fix things but i can not get over it.
    My 2 brothers and sister where much older then my when my dad passed away and it does not look like they are effected as much as i was and still am effected.
    i do not know what to do or where to go, who to turn to and that is why i wish god can take my soul. This pain is to much every day and the crying every night.

    Thank you for reading. This was the first time in 17years i have actually expressed myself.
    Thank you

  • Ross January 2nd, 2014 at 1:59 PM #78

    My dad died when I was 2 years old. He passed away on his 31st birthday due to a heroin overdose. After he passed away I went to live with my grandmother (his mother) and my mother was in and out of my life for the next 6 years, she went in and out of rehab and eventually moved to a different state with a new boyfriend. When I was 8 years old she passed away from being thrown down stairs and most likely beaten by him. Throughout my life I lived with my grandmother who became very bitter, controlling, angry and resentful. She rarely showed any care and often abused me mentally. I was never given any real care or outlet for grief or any therapy and lied to me about their deaths for a long long time. I am 26 years old now and have long since moved out and moved on. Because of everything I am an angry person with attachment disorder, mistrust, detached, jaded, and pessimistic. I feel alone, isolated, like no one can understand or truly care. Such a deep void filled only with an immeasurable sadness that eats away at me from inside. I hide it as best I can, fake smiles, attempts at being cheerful and social, but it isn’t real. I wonder what I would be like without these events…I wonder if I will ever get better.

  • Marcus January 14th, 2014 at 2:30 AM #79

    Hey, what do u mean by causing intestinal inflammation and what would the symptoms of this be?
    When I was 11 I watched my mum die at the wheel of a stopped car down a dark farm road in the middle of the night, she died suddenly of a brain hemorage after complaining of a head ache but I didn’t cry, I’m not sure what I was feeling at the time I assumed it was fear mixed with sorrow and helplessness while waiting in hospital for the bad news. Everyone said I should have gone and tsaid goodbye but when i reached her lying on the hospital bed with no signs of life except for pervasive tubes and wires pumping her lungs I couldn’t bring myself to speak for 2 reasons, I believe in science not the afterlife and spirits, and secondly I didn’t want to say goodbye.
    I’m now 20 and since then I have been suffering from pretty bad insomnia and some undiagnosed digestive issues, in high school I was in and out of hospital a lot and missing a fair chunk of school for the doctors to turn around and tell me there’s nothing wrong other than bad diet and not enough exercised, I have changed my diet countless times and exercised varying amounts in different ways and nothing has worked except a really strong almost laxitive kind of coffee, more recently I’ve also been losing a lot of weight unexpectidly (I thought I should gain weight with excersise as I’m quite slim and need to build some muscle) and more recently feeling like I’m regressing back to the insanity that filled my mind shortly after her death, there is no one for me to talk to short of finding a gf again but I really struggle to not depress other people living around me, the fake smile and laugh doesn’t work forever people always see through it in the end but I feel I can’t explain why it still affects me so strongly today.

    Sorry for the bad sentences I’ve gone 2 or 3 days atm without sleep and started rambling, but does this sound anything like what ur looking for?

  • admin2 January 16th, 2014 at 1:30 PM #80

    Hi Marcus,
    Thank you for your comment. Speaking to a therapist may help alleviate even the physical health issues you’ve described. You can look for a therapist on GoodTherapy.org who specializes in health issues or sleep disorders by going to http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html and clicking one of those options in the drop-down menu that says “Concerns.” You may also call us during our business hours at 888-563-2112, etx. 1 for assistance in finding a therapist.
    We hope this helps, and we wish you the best!
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Darms January 26th, 2014 at 11:48 PM #81

    I was 16 when my mom died due to lung cancer (she never smoked). She was sick for almost five months. I was just a freshman college student at that time and I heavily relied on her about my adjustment issues at school. Losing her was the most painful thing (and will always be) I’ve been through. I am the only daughter with four brothers. It was really hard to be in a household feeling all alone and with no one to talk to. I cried myself to sleep for months. I felt that I lost not just my mom but my whole family. My siblings and I fought a lot. Whats worse was that I found out from my dad’s coworker that he was cheating on my mom when she was sick (the reason he was rarely home). I hate him and there were times that I wished he got sick and died instead of my mom. A year after my moms death, my grandpa died (my mom’s dad) who was the only reason I went home and spend some time at home (I witnessed him fought for his last breath). He had a heart attack. Suicide came across my mind many times and the closet I got in doing it was holding a knife to my wrist. The only thing that stopped was the thought that my mom would be disappointed in me for doing it(suicide) and for leaving my younger brothers with no one to look after them. My dad is really not a picture of a good parent. For him, giving us money for our needs (and sometimes wants) is enough. We never received any emotional support after my mom’s death. I can still remember the first Christmas following my mom’s death. He left during Christmas day and celebrated his Christmas god knows where.
    Until today, three years after, I still shed tears remembering her death and recalling next to nothing about her before her illness.

  • shawn January 31st, 2014 at 4:08 AM #82

    when i was at a very young age, my dad was controlling my mother a lot, she disliked it a lot but we still could handle ourselves. when i was around 11 years old,my mother’s belly button had a minor issue and she decided to go for a operation to get it fixed. after the operation, we went for a trip to taiwan and she looked alright. after the trip, we came back about 2 weeks, she went to consult a doctor and the doctor told her that she had depression, so she was pretty stunned for awhile. about a week or 2 after she found out that she had depression, she took her own live by comitting suicide, jumping from the 13th floor. it was an extremely traumatic day of my life yet and it caused me to have nightmares(violent ones), stress, anxiety, and i have slight mood swings. whenever i cry and i cry so hard that my whole body numbs up and i feel so tense up that i could not move. im afraid this might cuase certain problems and im trying to seek help from other people who are suffering the same issue as me. im currently 16, im a male,student, and i think that i am suffering from anxiety disorder and other symtoms. pls HELP me…

  • admin2 January 31st, 2014 at 11:58 AM #83

    Hi Shawn,
    Thank you for commenting. If this is a crisis situation or you are feeling suicidal, it is very important that you seek professional help. You can do one of the following immediately:

      Call your local law enforcement agency (911);
      Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;
      Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    Further resources are available here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    You can also look for therapists in your area on GoodTherapy.org who specialize helping with anxiety and depression by going to the following link: http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html. On that page, be sure to click Anxiety or Depression in the drop-down list of concerns to narrow down your search.

    We hope those resources help, and we wish you the best!
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Carri February 6th, 2014 at 10:39 PM #84

    I lost my Dad at 9 in a bad car crash. My sister who was 12 at the time was injured but survived. We were raised by a mentally and physically abusive Mother along with our baby brother that was 2 at the time. It was the seventies so we also had the added stigma of being different from other kids as most people at the time still had a father and a mother. I have tried very hard to move past the loss and abuse, but I still feel like I am different and unacceptable or not good enough in society. We are not close and each has his or her issues, but the biggest thing I have noticed in an on going belief that I am dieing. Since the age of 9, ever cough, cold, bruise, lump or bump, I assume it is death come for me. Even when good things happen I expect death is next.

  • Dennis February 9th, 2014 at 5:52 PM #85

    My father went to work one day when I was 12, had a massive heart attack and died right away. My brother was 4 years older and went into a tailspin of mental illness he never recovered from. My sister who was my best friend was due to marry 16 days’ later and was devastated. Writing this at 57, I face depression and anxiety that won’t go away. I’ve under-achieved in all aspects of my life.

  • Rodger February 25th, 2014 at 7:50 PM #86

    Lorraine

    I am sorry if this is late. I just started researching for a book and came across this.

    My mother died when I was eight. I have always wished someone had done a remembrance book about her. Her personality, traits, stories, likes, dislikes. These kids won’t remember much about their mothers so thus would be cool

  • Bogdan Kotarlic March 3rd, 2014 at 4:08 AM #87

    I lost my father at the age of seven. My mother told that I didn`t say a word when father died. Since then I have never been a full person, I have always been vulnerable and sensitive. I spent my 20s and 30s trying to find a girlfriend or a friend but I have always remained alone. I am 41 now and I don`t think that life has sense anymore. I could say that my father`s death has ruined my life.

  • Jessica March 3rd, 2014 at 8:43 AM #88

    when I was seven my dad committed suicide, still til this day 18yrs later it affects me like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been thru the crying,anger,guilt,confusion. The whole nine yards. I can’t get past that he should be here, to walk with me on my wedding day, be there when I have my kids, so many things he missed of me growing up and even after all this time. It’s kind of unreal that nothing I can do will make him be here for all the things I wanted to share with him. I feel like I was dealt a shitty hand in life and no matter how hard I try to move on and grow and be the best person I can be,there’s always something missing that will never be replaced.

  • GL March 8th, 2014 at 5:40 AM #89

    Hi,

    My parents divorced when I was three months old, my stepfather died when I was three months old. My mother got into a depression and I remember she threathened to kill herself when I was four. She never remarried.

    I’m forty now. The effects of the events during my early years have been devastating. It’s hard to explain to others because they think you should ‘grow out of it’. I wish I could.

    Take care.

  • GL March 8th, 2014 at 7:46 AM #90

    Correction: my stepfather died when I was three years old.

  • Beth March 21st, 2014 at 1:21 AM #91

    I’m 17 and my sister is 18, almost 19. We lost our father at the ages of 1 and 3 due being struck by lightning. My sister has minimal memories of him and I have none whatsoever. I still find myself thinking about him everyday and occasionally crying. My sister tends to hold all the emotions back and suffers from serious mental issues. Though I have been to the hospital a few times myself and was told I have abandonment and daddy issues. There’s only one good picture of me and my daddy that anyone can find and it’s been in multiple picture frames on my beside table for as long as I can remember. With our family, my sister and I visit his grave every year. And every year I start balling my eyes once I see my grandparents start crying. So yeah. Even though I don’t even remember him, it affects me deeply to not have him. My mom remarried once but it only lasted a few years. Otherwise I’ve lived on fatherless. It actually sucks really bad. I miss him so much

  • Beth March 21st, 2014 at 1:26 AM #92

    I’m not sure if it’ll ever get better, but I just wanted to let you know that I’d give you a hug if I could. It won’t make things better, but I know it feels good to have someone care.

  • Beth March 21st, 2014 at 1:29 AM #93

    I understand. I lost my father at the age of 1. I have no memories of him. Apparently he was an amazing man. But I’d give anything to at least feel his hug and a kiss on the forehead. My mom remarried once, but they devorced a few years later and ever since, she hasn’t remarried and my sister and I have lived about our whole lives fatherless.

  • Hope March 21st, 2014 at 11:35 AM #94

    I have not lost a parent, but I can testify to how the loss of a parent at a young age effects someone long term.
    My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 2 years now. He lost his mother to cancer when he was 13. His parents were divorced and both remarried. At the time, he was living with his step-father, whom his mother married after divorcing his father. When his mother became sick, her mother (my boyfriends grandmother) moved her to Arkansas so she could take care of her and give her live-in hospice care during her final days. Several weeks after she (his mother) was settled in, in Arkansas, his mother extended an invitation for he and his younger brother to come stay with her in Arkansas. The grandmother sent his step-father a check for $10,000 to cover the expenses of bringing the kids to Arkansas, so they did not have to worry about finances for a while.
    Well, turns out, his step-father spent all that money on a new boat and told my boyfriend’s dying mother that they did not want to come to Arkansas as they were “too young to understand what was going on” and they thought she would be fine.
    As a mother, I cannot imagine what it would feel like to hear that your kids did not want to come visit you while you were dying.
    She died shortly after.
    My boyfriend was never given a fair opportunity to grieve his mother, or to be with her when she died. I cannot imagine harboring this kind of pain and guilt.
    This has had a major effect on his decision making and personality traits, although, he has never admitted this to me.
    He is 28 years old now and it is so obvious that these events have shaped his idea of what love and relationships are “supposed” to be.
    Our relationship has been suffering recently because of the many misconceptions he has been taught over the years from death, abuse, deceit, verbal abuse, substance abuse, and the lack of a loving motherly figure. His biological father, whom he still has a “good” relationship with, was abusive to his mother and is still to this day, a clinically depressed alcoholic.
    Now, after 2 years of dating, he has communicated to me that he is incapable of feeling love and is not sure he should be in a relationship at all.
    I believe with all my heart that if he could somehow come to terms with all the pain he harboring, he would realize that I am the best thing for him right now, as I have unconditional love for him. When I think about what he’s been through, I cry uncontrollably. And, now that his lack of emotional stability is effecting our relationship negatively, it makes things incredibly painful for me as well.
    I really wish he would get help, or talk to a therapist to help release all this built-up pain and guilt inside of him. But it seems as if his pride will not let him.

  • Judith March 25th, 2014 at 8:12 AM #95

    I am so sad at reading these heartbreaking stories and I wish everyone who is in pain strength and perseverance. I sympathise with so many of you who are hurting. Please be assured, you are not alone.

    I am 60 years old and still feel the consequences of my early experiences. I lost my beloved father when I was 15. He had a terrible brain tumour which destroyed him completely and he died a horrible death. My mother was in deep grief and she remarried too soon, to a man who had lots of mental health issues. It was a disastrous marriage and they divorced. I married the first man who came along, I was very young at the time, and I thought it would give me the sense of security I needed. Unfortunately my husband was not the right man for me at all, he did not support me in the way I needed. He was not a brute, just emotionally distant and selfish. I felt so let down because, of all things, he is a mental health officer! We divorced when I was in my mid-30s and I have never been able to form another relationship. I brought up 3 children alone, not wanting them to impose on them the experience of a step father as I had had. Now the children have grown up and I live alone and it’s very hard, but I would rather be by myself than in a difficult relationship. I am very close to my children and have two gorgeous grandchildren so life has its compensations. It’s interesting to read comments above about the different reactions of men and women – it’s true in my case I am fiercely independent and will probably be alone for the rest of my life. I often think that if it hadn’t been for that cluster of deviant cells in my father’s head, my whole life would have turned out differently!

  • Anon March 27th, 2014 at 1:59 PM #96

    I lost my mother shortly before my 1st birthday when she was just 24, so I don’t have any memory’s of her, just a handful of photos. It was too much I think for my Dad – I had to live with a foster family until I was 4 or 5 when my Dad felt he could take me back. I resented him a bit for that in my teen years but I’ve grown up since with kids of my own and actually, I get it. I think the hardest thing to explain is how deeply I miss my mum even now in my early thirties – which I’m sure must be weird because it’s basically as though she is a stranger to me that I’ve never met. I don’t really know how to deal with it, my Dad has never talked about it or her – I know it must have been tough for him and I think now too much time has passed and I can’t bring myself to ever ask or talk about it myself – it’s the elephant in the room though right there between us. I know she died of a brain haemorrhage, but I don’t know any of the circumstances around that. I’m no psychotherapist but I’m self-aware enough to attribute a few things to it all. I’d say I’m unusually unemotional – I recently lost a close a family member and in truth I feel nothing. I’ve always tried desperately to impress the female authority figures in my life… Teachers, lecturers and managers; I guess looking for maternal figures? I like to think I’d one day be able to bring myself to say all this out loud … But typing it was helpful for now!

  • Paige Tangney March 27th, 2014 at 6:12 PM #97

    Hi Anon. Have you ever connected with other Motherless Daughters? I don’t know where you live, but if you go to Hope Edelman’s website, you might find a group near you. (Hope Edelman is the author of Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers.)

  • kathleen March 29th, 2014 at 4:31 PM #98

    I myself lost my mother when i was only 18 month and i too have no memory jus photos and videos she was 29 and died of a brain haemorrhage i am now turning 21 and didn’t really think much about it in my childhood i had curiosity but never really asked my father about her because he would have always got upset if we did, now im older i feel like there’s a piece of me missing and have a need to know her and who she was what was she like, i think about her everyday and would some times burst into tears i think its because of the frustration of not knowing her but having a strong need to have her in my life i feel like im grieving for her now at the age of 21 when should i not have been able to come to terms with it by now family used to tell me it was easier for me because i didn’t remember her, i have grown up my whole life a very nervous and anxious person and suffer from anxiety now your story has jus made me realize im not alone i have 3 other siblings but i am the youngest the other say they have at least one memory of her its like and ache in my heart that will never go away

  • Anon April 3rd, 2014 at 2:59 PM #99

    The similarities in our experiences are so striking. I didn’t really identify with this article so much, I think maybe losing our Mums so early in life – well before we were equipped to process the event at all, makes it a different impact altogether. The underlying tragedy aside, it was a real comfort to read your reply, knowing there might just be someone out there that can actually understand (and I hope you found the same!).

    I wish you all the best.

  • Anon April 3rd, 2014 at 3:04 PM #100

    Thank you Paige I will check that out, although you weren’t to know I’m actually a Motherless Son.

  • GL April 4th, 2014 at 3:53 AM #101

    I’d like to describe my perfect day. It’s no surprise that ‘father hunger’ still plays in my mind.

    I’d drive to my uncle’s house early in the morning. We’d work on the house or in the garden, I don’t care that much. Afterwards, I’d visit my old boss who I respect a lot. We would talk about databases and the tour of France, argue about tv-series, play a game of tennis and drink a few beers. Then I’d drive to visit my father and we’d go and watch a football (soccer) game and enjoy a fatty burger during half time.

    Unfortunately, my father is dead (according to his family since I’ve never met him – long story by the way) and I guess the two other men don’t care about a 40-yr old man longing for their company.

    Although I’m straight… if I had to choose between an entire day having passionate sex with two horny supermodels or have a day like a described above, I’d go with my all male rolemodels day without hesitation. I wonder whether anyone else has similar desires, for mother or father figures.

  • Anna April 5th, 2014 at 3:09 AM #102

    If you could allow yourself to express how you feel again and again and again you will find that you can still look back, miss your dad and embrace and enjoy the present and look forward to the future. You’ve had a terrible experience and still need to grieve. The world is a beautiful place with so many wonderful experiences ahead of you to enjoy. Losing your dad has made you the person that you are, and wonderfully placed for your future as only you can experience it.

    I can relate to everything you’ve said. My mum died when I was 11. I have felt similarly numb as an adult. If you can let out how you feel, things can shift and you’ll begin to see your life a little differently….how you feel now can change. Keep the faith in your ability to transform your feelings…… You’ve done this with material things you can do it with your emotions too.

  • Joan April 9th, 2014 at 4:07 PM #103

    MY father died of war related injuries when I was 2 1/2 years old. I have 9 older siblings. My mom was sick from grief after this and was quite ill for a full year after his death. My mom & older siblings never talked about him much. I only have one fuzzy memory of him. He had part of his stomach removed so he had to sit straight up in bed.The device propping him up looked sorta like the top half of a lawn chair. I pressed a button on the side
    & the chair collapsed and everyone
    gasped.i wish I had a better memory as I have no photos of us together.I was told that we
    stopped going to his grave because I would try to dig him up. Ihave struggled with anxiety my whole lif &. As early as i can remember I suffered with stomach aches. Ive been in psychotherspy twice a week for the last 2 years & starting to make progress. The goal of psychotherapy is for the adult part of the person to FINALLY listen to the child part inside tell its story, and for the adult part to take responsibility for the healing process. It is hard work but I wish I had done it sooner. I would have avoided the heartache of trying to fill that daddy void in inappropriate ways. Our little child inside has a voice that needs to be heard, soothed and comforted.

  • Jeff April 15th, 2014 at 9:39 AM #104

    My mother died when I was 8, the night before I started third grade. She had a brain tumor. I have been looking for others like myself for a long time. Glad to find y’all! As I continue to process her death in therapy, it strikes me that her absence is worse than her death. Also, I wonder when I gave up hope as a child, hope that she would come back. It must have been very painful. I just want to find some people who understand these feelings. That fact that, as an 8 year old, I didn’t even know people died–period. It’s very incomprehensible. I was stunned. Parts of me still can’t believe it. It was comforting to know I’d see her again, but I didn’t, as an 8 year old, understand how long it would be until I would see her again. Sixty, 70, 80 years is a long time for an eight year old.

    Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 77. Instead, she was 34.

    I hope some of you can relate. Have a great day!

  • Jeff April 15th, 2014 at 9:43 AM #105

    Joan, my sister threw up every night for 6 months after our mom died. She has had stomach problems all of her life.

  • Catherine April 16th, 2014 at 12:26 PM #106

    My mother died of cancer 3 days before my 5th birthday. My younger sisters (twins) and I went to live with my grandparents. Sadly, I have no memory of her and since this was before the days of video and digital photos, I have no video of her and very few photos to remember her. We did however have one very large photo of her that hung prominently over our bed. Her eyes would follow us as we moved from place to place in the room. I thought that was a miracle and truly believed that she was watching over us. I now know that it’s simply a photography trick, when you look into the camera that will give that effect. Still I was just a young child, and for me, she was there watching over us.

    I remember being very melancholy as a child. I missed my mother very much. I wanted so much to be like all of my other friends who had their moms. She died in the 1950s, so I never received any kind of therapy or help to deal with all of this. We were Catholics, and aside from attending mass and visiting moms grave every Sunday, that was pretty much all of the emotional support we received.

    Our grandparents were good to us, but dad was almost never around. Still I think of those years are some of the happiest for me. Then when I was 12, my grandmother died suddenly. She died in the summer, and we moved from the only home we ever really knew, to another house across town. It all happened very quickly to coincide with the start of the new school year. It was so hard to leave my grandfather there all alone. I can still see him crying like a baby on the back step as we drove away. We lost grandma, grandpa and all our friends that summer, it was brutal.

    We moved into a house my father had purchased and renovated for us. His mother, who’s business went bankrupt had moved in some years before we arrived. So we were now living with Dad and a Grandmother we hardly knew. It was not a happy home and we did not adjust well. Then within 4 months of moving in, in December of that same year, Dad died in his bed, in that house, of a massive heart attack. I was 12, my sisters were 10.

    We were now living alone with a Grandmother who didn’t want us, didn’t like us much, and blamed us for our fathered death. It was brutal. My life was never the same. I was never the same. I pretty much completely withdrew from the world. I would spend, days, weeks, months, locked up in Dads room, which was now my room. Yes, I moved into the bedroom where my father died. Where I found him dead on his bed. The only thing I changed in that room was the bed and I moved my clothing in. For a long time I never moved his clothing out. I couldn’t…. I remember sitting on the floor in his closet, just touching and smelling all of his clothing. It seemed like did this for hours. That year was so devastating, I know that it changed who I was meant to be.

    Still, with that loss, and even though I was clearly suffering an emotional breakdown, I never received help. Short of committing you to a mental institute, It just wasn’t available back then. This set me up for a lifetime of depression. I am hopeful that our medical professionals are now serious about mental health issues. I think if I had received proper care when I was young my life would have been much easier.

  • Laurin April 16th, 2014 at 12:44 PM #107

    When I was 6. I lost both my paternal grandparents in a car wreck. They lived next door to us, and was more like my parents than grand parents. I am now 26 and still have problems mentioning this or dealing with this. I am doing a research paper for a counseling class (college) and was looking for information regarding attachment issues in young children that lost loved ones, particularly how it affected them once they got older. Please let me know if you find anything. Thanks.

  • Mandy April 18th, 2014 at 9:49 AM #108

    My mom died 2days before my tenth birthday. Which is in July. So, my dad sent me to my maternal grandmother and I started a new school for fifth grade. I was heartbroken. My dad came to get me every weekend. He would drive home, and we’d hang! He worked hard and at nights, I was accustomed to his naps. We got McDonald’s, and he would take me to my favourite place; the library. I knew we didn’t have much, so I never asked for much.

    My siblings are 20-12.5 years older than me. My father lives at 77, me 32, siblings 45+. I’ve always done my best, but it has been so difficult. There came a time of sexual abuse by a family member. I went to my blood family and told what was happening, they didn’t do enough. It took 2.5 years and a 17 year old neighbor to save me.

    I was then mandated to therapy. I’d repressed the memory of telling my family 2.5 years before my neighbor, so none of my therapists knew that. Recap: mom dead, funeral on 10th birthday, moved to different home and school within two months of death. 11.5sexual abuse begins, prison and therapists the summer I was turning 14.

    Then everyone disappeared, and I was glad. Dad kept working nights, I got a job at 15, stayed in school and boys. I worked really hard, and very much realized that I didn’t have it to risk, if I got in trouble there wasn’t anyone on my team.

    I continue therapy, been voluntarily institutionalized twice. And have found the .therapy/medicine combination that works for me. I’ve had great love and lost it due to poor decisions or addiction issues on their part sadly

    I’ve lives, lost, loved. I am beautiful, smart, and strong. I deserve love, respect, and compassion. I’m aware to get those things I have to give them. I’m happy, I’m almost 33, this summer! And I’m happy! I work! And I’ve forgiven, I don’t have them in my life much. But, I love them.

  • Neilsonk April 20th, 2014 at 7:40 PM #109

    A dear friend of mine and his 6 year old son have lost a wife, a mother 7 mo ago. Both are functioning at best and working through this tragic loss. I’m reaching out for possible ideas of how we can as family and friends be of support for our little boy as he gets older and deals with the loss of a truly wonderful mother. I noticed many unanswered questions come about regarding their mothers personality traits, special moments and memories created with others.

    Soon, family and friends will be coming together to celebrate her bday and appreciate the love she had for all of us and we are interested in creating a video (in a private comfortable setting) that would allow each person to express moments of laughter they once shared, how she impacted our life and others around her and maybe have a list of many avail thoughts of questions on paper each person could answer or select only a few they recall. Our goal is to allow her son to see this video at a later date and allow him to have many missing questions answered or to allow him to understand how beautiful his mother is, the funny ideas she had, express her creativity or even state her seriousness on particular issues. Our goal is to allow him to understand more about who is mother is as a person.

    If you could assist us with this project we would be greatful. Are there questions you often wonder or wish you knew about your mother?

    Thank you

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