An Open Letter to Every Kid Who Has Lost a Parent

Featured

Originally posted by The Odyssey Online. Written by Lauren Seago

Written by Lauren Seago, reposted with her kind permission. Originally appeared on The Odyssey

A letter to tackle different aspects of losing a parent.

Dear Sweet Child,

First off, I just wanted to start by saying you are strong, even when it feels like the world is crumbling beneath your feet.

Secondly, I wanted to say how sorry I am for the loss of your parent in your most crucial years of needing love and words of encouragement. A piece of your world was stripped away from you, and that will never be replaced. Which I know personally, stings so deep.

As you continue to grow throughout your life, I wanted to address some aspects that I have learned on my own are not the easiest to conquer; that in most cases people do not understand.

1. It’s okay to cry, on the real: Forget those people who tell you crying is for the weak. You go ahead and cry; you probably need it.

2.Every holiday is like ripping a Band-Aid off over and over: Your family will laugh about memories from the past when everyone was all together. Reminiscing what your parent was like, their favorite desserts, or how they would laugh a certain way. With a smile plastered across your face, you’ll nod as family members tell you stories and you’ll think about what you would give to have them there with you.

3. Graduating, moving away to college, first date, first real job, any big event will cause a sting of pain: In the moment, you are so happy and excited as these new chapters open up. But later on, once alone, you think about how awesome it would be to have them carrying boxes into your dorm room, questioning your first date, looking out into the crowd at graduation, and seeing them with a camera recording you with a thumbs up. You’ll get chills as you think about how different life would be with them around.

4. You question everything and ask over and over why?: Whether it was a natural cause of death or some accident, you question everything you know and what you believe in (if you believe in anything). You will replay moments in your head questioning your actions asking what if? But if anything, the re-occuring question is why? An answer that is one to be continued.

5. You will be jealous of kids who have both their parents: You will see kids who have both parents and something inside you will stir; a sense of resentment. Because at one time; that was you and the world wasn’t perfect but it was lovely and everything you knew was great.

6. Watching your other parent heal is one of the hardest things you will ever watch: Though extremely challenging and frustrating at times, watching your parent cry to the point of exhaustion will be really hard, but the grieving process does get easier. So hang onto that small nugget of gold.

7. Family traditions will never be the same: Summers of camping and spending endless days on the water, baking rum cakes together, Saturday mornings spent watching cartoons just become a memory that you hold so close to your heart.

8. You become extremely protective of your siblings and whoever makes fun of them for losing a parent: No one messes with your squad but especially when someone brings up how you lost your parent; you go into protective mode. Just remember to breathe and walk in love. Kill ’em with kindness.

9. Heartbreaks hurt just as much, if not more: You will want that one parent to embrace you in their arms with snot running down your nose and tears streaming. You will just want to hear them say, You’ll be all right, kid. I love you and that’s all you need.”

10. The word “sorry” becomes numb to you: People don’t know your story and openly they don’t know what to do besides say sorry. After awhile, you smirk and softly whisper, “Thanks.” The word sorry no longer has meaning after you have heard it over a million times.

11. Pictures and old family videos are possibly one of God’s greatest gift to you: One day you will come across a tub filled with pictures, and as you sit on the basement floor looking through them, you’ll start to cry. Your mind will take you back to that exact moment and right there alone on the cold floor, you encounter a special moment of what life was like then.

12. Death will change you and your outlook on life: Seemingly the small stuff isn’t so bad anymore. You stop complaining and you really take a check of what is important in your life.

13. You wonder if they’re proud of you: When no one was looking and you did the right thing, or when you ace that test you studied so hard for. You stop to think I wonder

14. Hearing old stories from relatives and friends is a great thing: Shocked and trying not to laugh, you can’t believe what your uncle just told you about the one night they all snuck out and crashed a car. These stories will warm your heart, take the time to listen to them.

15. Lastly, you grow in ways you never thought possible: There will be moments where your whole family will be together and you’ll think to yourself how in a weird way everyone has a quirk of that parent. Then looking at your own heart, you realize how much you’ve grown.

As you continue to grow, just remember wherever you are in life, that parent is right there with you, cheering you on and flashing you thumbs up as you graduate throughout the stages of life.

All my love and tears,

A girl who lost her dad

Lauren E. Seago in 500 Words On on Aug 19, 2015

Authored by Lauren Seago

Author’s photo (Lauren Seago)


Be a pioneer in the fight against the debilitating trauma of childhood grief, DONATE to support children and teens whose mother or father has died.

Family Lives On is tremendously grateful to Lauren Seago for her kind permission to repost this blog in it’s entirety. Follow Lauren on Twitter at @llaureneunice

Family Lives On Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Tradition Program is entirely funded through charitable donations.  If you would like to help support the grieving children and families we serve, please donate here. To learn more about the Tradition Program, please use this link.

 

Permission to Grieve When Your Children Go Away to College

college
By Lisa Athan (Open Post)
This is a reader contribution to Patch.

__

I remember four years ago August very clearly. The focus was on my oldest daughter Carly going off to college. She was only going an hour away to Monmouth University, but I still felt sad that she wouldn’t be living at home anymore. Don’t get me wrong; I also felt happy, proud and excited as well, but the grief was the emotion that I was feeling the strongest. I realized during that summer and fall the importance of listening to others when they share their sadness over changes in their lives.

I truly needed someone to listen to me but had trouble finding people who would truly just listen. Instead, when I did share about my feelings of grief, most people were not at all supportive and even looked at me strangely and said with a judgmental tone, “Aren’t you happy for her?”, “Isn’t her going to college a good thing?”, “I couldn’t wait til mine left.” I walked away from most of these interactions feeling unheard, frustrated, and feeling that that there was something wrong with me. After all there are commercials on TV showing parents pretending to be sad when the kids leave home and then jumping for joy and throwing parties. So what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I only feel happy and thrilled at this wonderful opportunity for Carly? I guess I wasn’t supposed to be sad or at the very least I wasn’t supposed to talk about it.

So I stopped telling others how I felt. I also vowed to become a better comforter of others when they shared with me any sadness or pain in their lives. I also wanted to teach others how to really listen to their friends, loved ones and co-workers when they shared anything emotional. I would remind them not to try to fix it or to be so quick to offer advice. Just listen and try to understand. It isn’t hard to really listen, but it is a skill that we would all benefit from practicing. I wish that listening was taught in school. Our relationships would improve immensely.

Grief is not only due to a death or divorce, but grief can come from any type of separation, ending or change in our lives. I found myself comparing my loss to other’s losses. As a grief counselor, I warn folks not to do this. I shamed myself when I thought of all of those I know who have lost a child through death and knew that this loss could not even come close. Minimizing my loss though didn’t help. My grief felt like an ending. It was the beginning of the end of my experience of being the kind of mom as I had been for the past 17 years. It was the beginning of my children becoming independent and not needing me in the same way as they had before. I know that is what is supposed to happen and all about giving our children roots and wings, but knowing that didn’t make if feel any better.

I loved having all of my kids home and around. I don’t think that will ever change. I am one who wishes there could be a law that if family gets along then our siblings have to return to live in the same town so that cousins can live near each other. I know quite a few families in Springfield whose children are all in this town and the cousins even go to school together and grandparents are able to be very involved in thier day to day lives. It is wonderful to see. I can appreciate that as my younger brother lives in Illinois and we only see his family once a year. I wish that young adult children could get jobs that were close by their family and at the very least live in the same state. However I know that with today’s economy that doesn’t always happen. One woman told me “Today you are lucky if your kids live in the same country as you since quite a few of them get jobs in far away places.” Her son works in China. I immediately thought of my first cousin who lives in Amsterdam with his family. We miss him so much.

Then I started to wonder about other parents. Weren’t they sad as well? How can we live with our children for 17, 18 or 19 years and then drop them off at college without us experiencing any feelings of grief? I came up with many ideas: Maybe some didn’t really like being with their kids. Maybe some were denying their true feelings of sadness or just pretended they were “fine”. Maybe some were truly anxious to get back to their own lives that didn’t involve their children as much. Whatever it was, I wanted to find the other parents who felt like me. I was on a mission. I even ran a workshop in town four years ago called: They’re Excited About Going Away to College, But What About Us? About ten moms attended the workshop and it was great to share with each other.

Over the past four years I have spoken with many moms and dads who have shared their own grief with me about their children leaving home. Often with couples, it is one parent who expresses sadness more than the other. Some confide to me that it is their own spouse who “shamed them” about their feelings of grief, especially if the dad was grieving.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a Navy Seal dad at a Long Island AAU basketball tournament, who shared with me that of all the experiences he has had in his life, including that of a Seal, nothing was as hard as dropping his oldest daughter off to college last year and saying goodbye. He told me how he cried the whole drive back. He has five children and is already grieving about his second child who is a high school senior who will be going away next year. I felt such a sense of validation from this kind father’s honest sharing. It helped me to feel better about my own feelings. Sometimes just talking to others who feel similarly to the way we feel can help enormously. We don’t feel so alone and we feel a bit more “normal”.

Anyway, if you are a parent who has a child going away to college and you feel sad, find people who will listen to you and show comfort. Allow yourself to feel the grief. Don’t talk yourself out of how you feel. Find support on Facebook as many parents I see lately doing. “Pack lots of tissues” one mom said in a post to another who shared that they were on their way to college.

It really does get easier, although I will confess that each year she packed up and left I cried. One time Carly said, “Mom, I am a senior at college. We have been through this many times. Why do you still cry when I leave?” “I don’t know”, I sniffled, “I just miss you.” I guess it’s love or neurosis, but that is who I am. I know I will cry when my younger ones leave the nest as well, but at least they all know how I get, so it won’t be a surprise to them. Who knows maybe it makes them realize just how much they are loved. I hope so.

“Listening is a high art of loving. Ask yourself,” When is the last time I really listened to my child? My parent? My brother or sister? When someone is ready to share, three magic words amplify your connection, and they are, “Tell me more.” ~ Rev. Mary Manin Morrissey

Take care of yourself,

Lisa