With Father's Day approaching, I decided I would write about something that I have not posted much about on here: the death of my father. My dad had a jovial demeanor, was an avid reader and writer, and loved to bowl. He was only 68 when he passed away, this past July on a lazy summer afternoon. He had been battling esophageal cancer for over ten months, and was more than ready to go after fighting a hard fight that just could not be won. It was obviously a very difficult thing for my mom and I to go through. Throughout the whole experience, we had friends who became family, and family who became mere acquaintances. It is hard to lose a parent at any age, but I lost my dad literally just a few days after turning 22. I think this is an especially hard age to lose a parent. People expect you to be an adult (because you are), but then treat you with kid gloves at other times (because you are still so young). It is a very peculiar thing. With that said, I would like to gently point out some things you should do/not do, and say/not say to a young adult who has lost a parent, in my humble opinion for what it's worth:
- Often people try to compare the death of your parent to the death of their grandpa/grandma, aunt/uncle etc. This is usually meant to be a genuinely kind-hearted gesture...a way for them to relate to the pain you are experiencing. PLEASE never do this unless said grandpa/grandma or aunt/uncle has raised you and has lived in the same home as you for an extended period of time. I would not have understood that at all before my dad died, but losing someone - even someone you see daily - who hasn't raised you is just is not the same.
- Do not avoid a person like the plague who has just experienced a loss.
- If you do not know what to say to a person who is experiencing a loss, be honest. Tell them you don't know what to say. It is more comforting to hear that than to hear nothing at all.
- If you find out one of your family members or friends have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, don't ask if there is anything you can do. Of course there are millions of things you can do, so just do. I know before I experienced the loss of my dad, I asked the same question to other people, but it is really hard for people to ask for help when they really need it. It's human nature to want to be independent and to not want to ask people for help. Don't put somebody already going through a hard time on the spot. Do not be over-bearing, but offer to drive places if needed, grab extra groceries, or just take a small part of your day to make a phone call or send a text. It truly makes a world of difference just knowing someone cares.