Gone Too Soon: The Loss of a Parent


Tonight I sit with a heavy heart anticipating the end of life of a friend. Another life ravaged by a cancer diagnosis. A mom, but not yet a grandma. A sister, a daughter, a friend. Gone too soon. The inequity of it all. My heart aches for many who sit in the room, both begging for her to stay with them yet anxious and hopeful for the pain to be over. My heart mostly aches for her kids in the room on the brink of joining the club no one asks to join or wants to be a part of— the club of those who deal with the loss of a parent. 

With this membership often comes pity and compassion, but there are basically zero perks. Those who are also in the club can commiserate and bring forth a genuine level of understanding stemming from a collective pain. An experience most will have eventually, but nobody wants too early. 
It has now been nine years since I lost my dad and six years since I lost my mom. While the pain is no longer penetrating every aspect of my daily life, it is subtly affecting my life daily. Now that I have been a member of this club for a while, I am deeply affected when I see others have to join this club because while it brings all my feelings to the surface, I also ache, as I know for them, life will never look quite the same. 
As I sit with my overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness for my friend, I am reminded of a few things I have learned along the way. 
While few totally understand, most try to understand. I have friends who meet me in all the ways they know possible, and for each of those ways, I am grateful. 
Every single one of us does grief differently. While some want to be left alone, others would love to be surrounded by their tribe. While some need movement and activity, others want to simply be still. No matter how you slice it, grief is overwhelming and there is absolutely no right way to walk that road. 
Grief is not linear. One day may feel easier, and the next, the heaviness may set in again. 
Most days, it is hard to explain the hard. The emptiness of not having that parent physically is difficult to feel and even harder to explain to others. 
Envy, jealousy whatever you may call it is very real. It is hard to look at a others with their parents and see grandparents sharing time with their grandchild without feeling robbed of that same joy. 
I have walked this road for a while now and witnessed others have to walk this road, too. While the experience of how we grieve is not universal the experience of having to walk this road is shared among many.
I don’t have the words for my friend who is now part of this unfortunate club, but I do have the shared experience and understanding. For my friends and her friends who are lucky to be an outsider to this club, perhaps some of these truths can help to simply be a friend who walks compassionately alongside during this grief journey. 
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Katie is a Des Peres mom of two young boys, Trace (2014) and Henry (2016). Katie stays home with her boys most of the time but also spends a bit of time away as a high school lacrosse coach. Katie enjoys connecting with other moms to run, meet at parks, explore new restaurants, listen to live music and discuss books. Katie and her boys can be found enjoying many activities around St. Louis including the Science Center, Zoo, Magic House, Museum of Transportation, Urban Fort and Frisco Train Store, but what they enjoy most is just being outdoors. They have tried many of the parks around St. Louis City and county and also love hiking trails at Laumeier Sculpture Park, Powder Valley and Shaw Nature Reserve. Katie and her family love all that St. Louis has to offer for families of young children and can most often be found taking advantage of all of the many opportunities.


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