In the time my dad was in the hospital and in the first few weeks after he died, I had several friends in my age group who also lost a parent. Each time I would hear about their loss, it hit me in a way that it never did before when I would hear about someone losing a love one. I consider those who lost a parent around the same time I lost my dad to be in an unspoken club with me. I see their posts on Facebook about the parent that they miss so much and I search for words to say to them and I have none. Often times, more than one of them seem to post on the same day, which strikes me so odd because they don't know each other, so they have no idea the other is posting, of course. But it serves as a reminder to me that we're all in this together. We're battling with a new kind of grief that most of us haven't felt before. We're dealing with a grief that can be hard to talk about, especially to our friends and family who haven't experienced it.
Losing a parent when you're in your 30's really, really sucks. Of course it sucks at any age, and I am not even saying this is the worst age group to be in when you lose one of them. Losing a parent at this age feels so tragic on one hand - our parents are relatively young - in their 50's to 60's. We aren't prepared for them to die. We feel like they had so much still to experience. My kids are at the age that I know my dad would have just loved. Old enough to play board games and sports with him. Young enough that they don't have too much attitude yet :-) Oh, the joy he would be getting from this phase. He loved his grandkids as babies, but there was still so much of them he was supposed to experience. The best of times with them feels like it still laid ahead of him. It feels unfair and tragic that his life was cut short when it was.
On another hand, you sometimes feel guilty that you think the death of your parent is so tragic when you got so much more time with them than some of your friends. I have friends who lost a parent much younger than me. Friends who didn't have one or both of their parents at their graduation, their wedding, or to see them become parents. Grandbabies who never met a grandparent. Isn't that way more tragic? I was finding myself feeling very guilty about this, and trying to convince myself that I was experiencing too much grief, until a close friend told me something that she heard somewhere. It was about how when we're sad about something, people often say "oh someone has it worse, don't be so down"... but when we're happy, no one says "oh someone has it better, don't be happy". Don't let someone else's situation shadow your feelings about your own situation, whether its a good situation or a bad one. We each have our own story.
So, to my friends going through this grief at the same time as me, I see you. I see your posts. I feel your feelings in ways I can't explain. And yet I know I don't feel some of your feelings. We've each lost something similar and yet so unique that none of us knows how the other feels. And that is why sometimes I just can't comment. Because I can't find the words to express what I want to say to you. I want to lift you up, but I also want to sit and hug you and cry with you. Nothing feels like the right thing to say and yet saying nothing feels wrong, too. You are all loved by many and should you ever need anything, I am here.
To my friends who suffered this loss previously.... I love you and I appreciate all your support as I have gone through this. I think you are all amazing and I hope that as time passes, I can be a better sounding board and support system for others that go through this in the future, as you have been for me. I wish I would have been there for some of you more than I was when you lost your parents. You just don't know what it's like until you live it.
To my friends who haven't lost a parent... there is no way to prepare for it. If you want to support a loved one who is going through a loss of a parent, just be there to listen. Try to understand that their grief doesn't go away after a few months. Ask them how they're doing. Don't assume that because they don't bring it up that they're OK now. They might not find joy in some of the things they used to for a while. Give them time. Offer to listen anytime and really mean it. They're hurting so, so much in ways they may not be able to even explain to you.
I miss you, Dad. I know if you were here you would be the first person to comment on my post to tell me something that would make me feel better. <3