6 Important Reminders For Anyone Who’s Lost A Parent In Their Early 20s

6 Important Reminders For Anyone Who's Lost A Parent In Their Early 20s
Patryk Sobczak

I wanted to open up to you all about something that is very personal. I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I wanted to share this with you all, but I feel like it really has defined who I am and shaped the way I live and view my life.

I lost both my parents in the span of 10 months of each other. I was 20-years-old with two months left of finishing up college when my mother passed in the March of 2015. Then fast forward to January 2016, when my father passed; 21-years-old figuring out who I was and this whole adulting thing.

For those of you curious as to how? My mother had a stroke the summer after my freshman year of college. She was in a vegetative state for about two and a half years and eventually her body was pretty weak. Ultimately, it was a cold that got her in the end. For my father, he found out three months prior to his passing that he had stage 4 esophagus cancer, extremely out of the blue and rare. Who the fuck actually gets esophagus cancer?! I didn’t even know it was a thing!

Anyways, I’m not going to devolve into the drama that came after my father’s passing, because that is some shit (definitely ready for my own reality TV show, any takers?). For any of you who’ve lost a parent, you know the feeling of having your whole world turned upside down.

I’ve had to take some time to try to ground myself again while going through the normal stages of adulthood; which is another discussion for a different time. What I really wanted to share with you guys are the things I’ve learned living my life without them.

1. You are so much stronger than you realize.

Even though my upbringing wasn’t the most traditional (basically raised by a single mother but still having a father who was very much so in my life), funnily enough they both taught me to be strong despite. To always keep fighting and pushing forward. “Stay strong and don’t be weak,” my father would always say.

Granted, yes, there are days, especially in the beginning, where I felt so crippled by grief, but I let myself have those days because I’m human and it’s important to take time. Eventually, you heal and know it’s going to be okay. It’s kinda like a bad break up; your whole world feels like it’s falling apart, but then you do things that make you feel like you again and keep living that killer life you’ve been living. Honestly, when you go through a life event like this, everything else is kinda easier to deal with in a weird way.

2. Surround yourself around real hoes.

LOL, but seriously, my friends have been my saving grace since day one. Very quickly, you realize who your true friends are because they are the ones there holding you when you drunk sob or will be your ride or die in whatever adventure you wanna take. They have supported me, lifted me, and loved me. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through without them.

For me personally, I don’t have a large family so I don’t really turn to my family for most things, but my friends have become my family. It’s a family I wouldn’t trade for anything else in this world. It is so important to have people in your life that you trust (whether you go through something like this or not). They constantly inspire me to do better and make me realize that there is so much to live for even when I do lose sight of that.

3. It’s okay to be lost.

This is the hardest one for me and I still work through it. Every time I start
to gain some momentum and think I finally have some direction in my life, some shit happens and it’s like, “REALLY, SATAN? WHY?!”

It’s especially hard when you don’t have your parents to turn to. I don’t know about you, but naturally when growing up whenever you had an issue or needed
advice, you turned to mom and dad, and they miraculously knew the answer to everything. When you don’t have them anymore, you rely on yourself. That shit is pretty scary because you actually have to listen to yourself and what your soul actually wants and wants to do…which is hard when you have no idea.

But hey, that’s life, just embrace it. These moments of being completely
lost are actually beautiful (obviously not while it’s actually happening), but eventually there’s a point of clarity and things fall into place even if it’s just for a little while, ride that wave. You come out the other side so much stronger, and that’s a real fucking feeling.

4. Take your time.

Everyone deals with grief differently and in their own time. If you feel like
you’re not moving at the same pace as your friends or not being somewhere you thought you’d be at some age, IT’S OKAY. You lost a fucking parent, or both. That really effects you even when you don’t realize it or want to admit it.

Sometimes I look at my resume and I’m like, I haven’t really done much in my life, at least on paper, but that’s because I decided to live my life and find happiness again. The life I’ve lived since losing my parents have been so rich in experiences and solid friendships.

To be quite honest, I’m absolutely fucking okay if that doesn’t reflect on paper.

Things do fall into place if you stay positive and keep moving forward. Sometimes, I put too much pressure on myself and when things don’t work out, I feel like a horrible disappointment. And that’s when my friends step in to remind me of how far I’ve had to overcome and how far I’ve come as well. Where I am in life is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

5. Don’t take life too seriously.

Life is too short. When you’ve gone through such loss when you’re not ready for it, it feels like you’ve lost everything. So really, up is the only direction you can go up or forward. However, you view the direction of life. Everything suddenly seems less important or rather more trivial. For me, I oddly appreciated life more. I realized how much I had taken for granted and now as I face life on my own I chose to take the positive route. I know this sounds cheesy and not everyone may agree when I say this, but it’s a choice to be happy, to let go, and move forward. While you’re working through it, try to smile, laugh a little, and let the positive in!

At first, you may feel weird about enjoying life or having a good time, but mom or dad would have wanted you to live! If you think about it, all they want is for their kids to live a happy and healthy life at the end of the day. Everything else is bullshit. So take it easy and just live.

6. You’ve got this.

Sometimes, I wake up and I wonder What the fuck am I doing?! Like, why did I
decide to go and have six tequila shots without having dinner; is this a job I really want? Is this fuckboy really worth it? Am I really ready to be an adult?

Adulthood is scary, especially being in your early 20’s is terrifying. For me, without my parents, I feel like I’m free falling with no safety net and that’s some shit. But at the end of the day, I know it’s going to be okay.

Take everything your parents have taught you. Learn from their mistakes and their success. Trust that there’s a reason why that all this happened to you now, for a reason. I cannot imagine being the person I am today without these events that have shaped my life. I’ve had to grow up so much quicker and take on responsibilities that I wasn’t ready for, but I tried my best. Sitting here writing this post, reflecting on my life, and I realized that there haven’t been any major fuck ups so far, so I guess I’m doing pretty alright here.

I suppose at the end of the day, I hope I’m just making them proud. Living life with a smile on my face, and trying to enjoy this crazy journey called life. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Gia is a self-proclaimed free spirit, living and wandering aimlessly in her home of New York City.

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