What I Wish I Knew: Losing a Parent

One of the most difficult experiences that anyone can go through, in my opinion, is losing a parent. You’re not just losing a person–you’re losing someone who you could rely on, someone who loved you unconditionally, someone who was your supporter and champion. When I lost my mom after a thirty-year battle with multiple sclerosis, it was a shock. She had been doing very well for the first time in years and was looking forward to her life in DC after moving from Newport. Although she had almost succumbed several times in the previous two years, she managed to fight infections and attacks and come back stronger each time. Here’s what I learned from losing my mom.

  • Sometimes it doesn’t hit you right away.
    • I was in the other room when my mom died, and had been there for the three days before her passing. While I watched her decline, and could, thankfully, say goodbye, it didn’t hit me until much later–after we returned home and I picked up the phone to call her and talk to her about something.
  • Telling people is almost harder than finding out yourself.
    • I cried for the first time when I had to call my mom’s best friend from childhood and tell her that my mom had died. Telling people, to me, felt like reliving my mom’s death all over again. After making that phone call, I emailed or texted people to tell them. It’s difficult to handle someone else’s grief when yours is still so fresh, so although writing the news may seem cold, it was the only way that I could stay together in the first days after my mom’s passing.
  • It’s important to talk to your parents about what they want after they pass.
    • My mom was adamant about donating her body to science. We had also gone over her wishes for a memorial service. I was glad to know exactly what she wanted, as I felt that we could honor her properly.
  • Everyone grieves differently.
    • I have two younger siblings, a sister and a brother. The three of us all handled our mourning differently, as did my dad and my mom’s best friend. Even if it may seem as though someone isn’t grieving, they are–it’s just different.
  • Always say “I love you.”
    • I’m so grateful that the last words my mom and I said to each other were “I love you.” I’m glad she knew I loved her; I’m glad that she loved me, and I’ll always remember that.

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