10 Things Nobody Prepared Me For Upon Losing My Dad At 20

Everybody loses their parents, it is a very real fact of life. We come to earth, we live, we die — the legacy we leave behind lies in our children’s memories and their own futures. It seems that this reality, the one in which your parent dies, should not be a difficult one to understand, for it is natural. However, no one could have prepared me for this. The ten things nobody prepared me for in losing my dad at the age of 20:
Shutterstock
Shutterstock

1. No one told me that I would feel so empty.

Days go by where I can feel a physical emptiness inside myself. This sadness is so much more than sadness, it is a physical manifestation of the pain and loneliness I feel.  It is almost impossible to describe the void that appears almost instantaneously after a parent passes, but it is real…too real. You can be feeling totally normal one day (whatever normal is I guess) and then a memory comes to you and your stomach sinks creating a pit that cannot be filled.

2. No one told me that I would cry so much.

I am not a crier. I am the kind of person who pretends I am fine one hundred percent of the time and never lets anybody see me at a weak moment. If I cry, it is when I am alone in the shower with music turned up so nobody could possibly know how distraught I am. But not now. I cry all the freaking time and it is so overwhelming. Especially for somebody who does not respond well when I see other people cry, I am almost disgusted with my sensitivity. And once it starts, I blow up and have a meltdown until my body physically cannot produce anymore tears. I have become used to wearing sunglasses in public so nobody can see my puffy eyes, and the most difficult part of it is that you DO NOT WANT TO BE THAT PERSON!!! If it was in my power I would suck it up, but I simply cannot.

3. No one told me how hurtful other people’s words can be.

I have truly learned the value of being kind to others in this experience. I have heard my whole life that you should treat other people with care because you never know the battle they are facing privately. I now understand the weight of this lesson. I have had moments at the grocery store, or meeting new people, or even catching up with old friends when something will be said that rips me apart. Of course these instances are accidental, but it still hurts. I have also had things said to me with malicious intent and have learned the cruelty that can be the human race. I have had numerous people tell me I should “really get over it and stop being depressed” and I have even had people accuse me of faking my father’s death for attention. Seriously, it is hard enough dealing with the loss and even harder dealing with scrutiny in it.

4. No one told me how alone I would feel.

It is very hard to be around other people when you feel that nobody understands what you are feeling. Your best friends care so much and want to help, but you have a hard time explaining to them the feelings that you are experiencing. Even in an environment where you are surrounded by people, you still feel entirely alone. Sometimes, you become a recluse because it is almost easier than faking a smile around others.

5. No one told me how hard Christmas would be.

I have never had a more tear-filled Christmas for me and my whole family.  It was so strange not seeing my dad’s giddy expressions as he opened the traditional hot wheels, shot glasses, and nascar stuff from each of us kids. He was always so excited, even if it was just a picture or painting. He always expelled so much love towards us kids, and the absence of that this Christmas was almost unbearable.

6. No one told me that people would avoid me.

I have lost contact with many friends simply because they do not know how to handle an Amber that is struggling with severe depression. I have truly learned who will stand by my side through anything and which friends are only along for the surface level relationship. I have lost a large portion of my friends due to a lack of understanding in where I am and what I am feeling. I understand though, I would not want to be tasked with the responsibility of holding up someone who is inevitably falling closer and closer to the ground daily.

7. No one told me I would become needy.

I have spent my whole life proudly being Miss Independent, I have never once needed anyone else to make me happy or even motivate me to get out of bed. But lately, I find myself requiring so much reassurance in who I am. It’s like I have become unsure of my worth due to sadness. I have become so full of uncertainty in how others feel about me and it has made me almost needy. If I could change one thing on this list, this would be it. I am not used to being dependent on others for my happiness, but I promise in time I will be back to normal, stubborn, independent Amber. Until then, please just bare with me and reassure me that this isn’t permanent and you love me despite my neediness.

8. No one told me I would forget.

The scariest part of losing a parent is in forgetting parts of them. I have had numerous full fledged anxiety attacks over simply being unable to recall what my dad looks like, or smells like, or worst of all sounds like. You go your whole life seeing somebody, and hearing their voice in your nightly phone calls and then they are gone. They vanish. And no matter how much you wish you could change it, no matter how hard you cry on the floor of your bedroom, you are unable to bring them back. They are gone. Obviously, I can just look at a picture and see him and remember, but nothing hurts more than not being able to hear in my mind’s voice exactly how he said I love you. I will never hear those words again from him so all I have are those memories, and when they fade, even if just for a few moments, it is searing, unendurable pain.

9. No one told me that I would cry anytime someone mentioned weddings.

Every little girl imagines and creates their perfect wedding as they grow up, complete with a beautiful dress, a handsome groom, flowers, and Daddy walking you down the aisle. My heart collapses at the thought of this never becoming a reality for me. When my dad first got sick years ago, he promised me to fight as hard as he could so he could be there on my wedding day and now I am left to one day experience that day in his absence. When I lived with my dad in middle school we decided that we would dance to “You’ll be in my Heart” from Tarzan at my wedding, and now I can’t even listen to that song without tearing up. It is so devastating to me that something as joyous as a wedding can be tainted by the loss of my best friend. Don’t even get me started on the idea of having children…

10. No one ever told me how confusing it would be.

Confusing. That is the best word I can use to describe it. No matter how prepared you are, you will never be ready and you are left confused in their absence. You almost feel stupid, because everyone’s parents die at some point, but that doesn’t change how devastated you are. In your 20’s you are officially growing up, there are so many questions left unanswered — indefinitely. No one told me about the internal battle I would face about how I feel. I want to be okay, but I simply cannot and that is confusing. No one told me that my sadness would come and go. That I would have days where I am completely okay and almost forget that he is gone, and then the next day remember and almost feel guilty for functioning normally the day before. No one told me how much I would be in battle with my own emotions. No one told me how much I would miss him. Although, I don’t think you can ever adequately capture in words just how deep and intense the longing for their presence can be and how completely numbing missing them is.

But now, I am telling you that you will be okay!

I promise you, if I can do it you can too. Chin up. I have learned one thing in this trial:

You can love somebody so much in this life, but you will never love somebody as much as you will miss them. The important thing is to keep going and give them a legacy they would be proud of. TC mark

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