6 Things I Learned After Losing My Parent

Everyone knows about denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, but there are smaller things like delayed reactions and using laughter that help us to cope with death.

When dealing with the death of a loved one, everyone knows about DABDA: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. What few talk about are the emotions in between.

You always hear that time heals all wounds, but, from experience and talking to others who have lost a parent, it hurts more before you start healing.

This article is an honest approach to what people rarely say, but probably know in their heart of hearts.

1. It’s OK to have regrets—just don’t dwell on themSad woman portrait in grief

When my mother’s mother died, she fell into a bottle and never found her way back out. Many people dwell on death, and the regrets of what if and should have been.

I am not saying to not thing about them—you will—but if you keep dwelling on what you should have done, you miss out on your life.

My own mother passed away, and yes, I regret not spending more time with her, but I made a promise. She would want me to live with the memories of happy times, not in the shadow of regret.

2. People will try to understand your anger, but they can’t

Sometimes, when I see someone talking angrily to their mothers or ignoring them, I just want to grab and shake them. Sometimes I’ll verbalize this, and they look at me, confused.

People do not understand how precious their time is with their parents—holidays are especially bittersweet, and Mother’s Day usually leaves me in tears.

However, I lean on others in my time of need because even if they don’t truly understand where my anger comes from, they are still there for me.

3. Talk: you never know who can relate to your experience

Two young adults in a cafe making some decisions

Since my mother’s passing, I thought talking about it would make me seem weird. Then, the first Mother’s Day arrived, and I had to go to the back of the restaurant I was working in to cry.

I met a great friend that day, a guy named Brent, who told me about his father’s passing. I leaned on him that day, and on Father’s Day, I let him lean on me.

Since her passing two years ago, I have made seven friends whose parents have passed away: three fathers and four mothers.

With Mother’s Day approaching, I am happy to know I will be working alongside two others whose mothers have passed away; however, if I had not talked about it, I would never have known.

I would have felt isolated this year. So, know that it’s OK to talk about it with people.

4. Dead parents jokes can relieve some tension

This is a very sensitive topic, and I often laugh about it, which made me feel bad, but also good. As always, “Your Mom” jokes are commonplace, and I remember the look on one of my friend’s face after she let one slip after my mom’s passing.

It was hilarious, and she hid from me for a week. But, it was comforting knowing that even though her passing away was a big part of my world, it didn’t leak out, and others treated me normally.

It’s also how I met one of my new friends after he said “86 moms” while walking by. It’s how I found out my new job had people with similar losses.

So, if someone makes a mom joke and you laugh, or return one about going to get a shovel, it doesn’t make you a bad person. I think that laughter helped me to recover from her passing more quickly.

Your parent would not want you to be unhappy, so find happiness in the little things—even mom Jokes.

5. Tears will strike when you least expect it

Woman crying near man in winter and wiping tear off her face

When my mother passed away, I went straight to my boyfriend, who was at work. I waited for him to get off, then he drove me to a lake and walked with me for two hours in silence.

I did not shed a tear that day. I had accepted her death because of her lifestyle choices a long time ago, so finding out that she had passed away was not too shocking. I was over it before it happened…or so I thought.

Then, a year later, we were at a bar, and a girl tried to fight me. Dan, the boyfriend-turned-fiancé, took me outside, and suddenly, I looked him in the eye and said, “My mom is dead, isn’t she?” And I cried.

He went back in, paid the tab and drove me home. I cried the whole way. The next day, I was fine.

It’s the little things you do not expect to trigger you that do. Just roll with it. I thought I would not cry, but I did—and you probably will too, even if it hasn’t happened yet.

Just, know that it is OK to cry. No one will think less of you. I wish someone had told me sooner.

6. Hold your head up—you are not alone

If you take only one thing from this article, I hope it is that you are not alone! For almost a year, I felt alienated from my friends because they just didn’t understand.

If I had decided to hide at home on Mother’s Day, I would not have found out about my friend’s own parent passing away. It sucks, and some years, it is worse than others, but do not feel like you have to face this on your own.

Even if you need to message me to rant, know that someone out there cares. I do not know where I would be if I had stayed it in—probably in a worse spot than now.

It’s been three years since my mother passed away. She missed the marriage of my older brother, my own wedding and the birth of my brother’s son, the first grandchild.

Does it hurt? Yes, but it gets better. If you made it this far, maybe you will go further; share your experience. This is the internet—maybe you will make a new friend because you can relate to their experience.

About the author

Audrey Padgitt

Audrey want to be a writer someday. She decided to toss her hat into the ring and polish her skills a bit. She is an anomaly, being a left handed, green eyed creature with flaming red hair. Because of this, the world noticed her, even when she didn’t want to be noticed. This taught her a lot, and hopes some of her lessons can help others.

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