Losing a parent as a child

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The loss of a mother or a father...

...as a child can be a trauma very hard to overcome, especially at a very young age. It has consequences that go beyond the death of the loved one. It changes the child, it changes its future, its personality, its beliefs, its fears, its cravings, the way the child perceives the world.

It is hard for others, who have not had a similar experience, to understand what this means. It is hard for the adults around the child to comprehend how it scars the child. This scar will last forever. It will be with the child as she grows, year after year, until adulthood and beyond into the old age and it will never disappear.

It is of the utmost importance that the adults around the child understand what this means, as they often don’t and often perceive the child’s pain as their own, when it’s nothing like it.

Age range

When I talk about a child I mean especially the ages from 4 to 10 or 12 years old. This range of age represents a time when the child does not understand at all the concept of death and no amount of explanations will help.

I don’t mean that losing a parent at any other age is easier, but when it comes to affect personal development and also when it comes to being able to intervene, in order to help this personal development to be smoother and more natural, I believe this an extremely important range of ages.

Until 4 years old everything is a bit of a blur, although losing a parent will then take a toll later on. And from 12 years old on the child has a different understanding, that allows the child to deal with death in a very different and more rational way.

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MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I find this subject is very important, because I lost my father when I was six years old. It was a sudden death that nobody saw coming and it changed me in ways that I didn't know were possible.

Because of this, because losing my father changed me and continues to change my life, because I feel it everyday as I make my choices and in the way I perceive the world and other people and because I think it didn’t have to be like this and that other children can have a smoother ride through life, I thought it important to write this article.

Everything is a bit of a haze. I remember my father was very happy that day. It was a Sunday. He got up in the morning, had his breakfast ( I suppose) and headed down to the backyard to plant daisies. I have no idea what got over him that day, I never saw him as someone who planted flowers, but then again maybe I was too busy with my kid’s stuff to have noticed or maybe I just don’t remember who he was.

Nonetheless it was a happy day, until little after lunch when he started having the heart attack. I remember when he grabbed his chest, his face the image of his pain, his mouth twisted in silence. I remember how I told him he couldn’t be like that, because the next day it was work day (little private joke between us) and my mother telling me to shush. I remember how he fell to the ground and just lay there never to get up again. I remember many other details, small silly details of a little child wandering around in the middle of all the confusion, without anybody noticing her, having no idea what was going on, but being absolutely certain that by the morning everything would be alright. When the morning came it wasn’t and I really couldn’t understand why.

I think a lot of people tried to make me understand that my father had died and that he had gone to heaven and that he wouldn’t come back. I remember that in those days everybody cried, my mother mostly and then grabbed me and held me close and kissed me and cried. And I didn’t understand any of that.

My mother cried for a very long time, she was struck with grief and it is not that she didn’t see me or noticed me, but she saw me as an equal in pain, that saw what she saw, that understood what she understood. My father had died. What in the Lord’s name could I possibly not get? I was expected to cry and suffer and move on, probably. Well, you can’t ask a child that. A child’s mind is not an adult’s mind. A child does not understand the same things, the same way, it cannot, its development does not allow it and one shouldn’t expect it.

CONSEQUENCES

So, what came out of this?

First the obvious and basic: losing some material comfort.

Then, losing a bit of my mother. She became a different woman, harsher. She had to. She was alone raising two kids, she had to work harder, she was alone with us, teaching us alone, double the responsibility, the fear that she might do something wrong, the fear that we would turn out bad and it was all on her.

Finally, losing what I could have been if I had him.

You see, from all that, the worse is how it changed me inside, how it conditioned my life and how I have to fight it off every day.

At first I wasn’t sure of what had changed, but I knew something had. I didn’t understand for a very long time why my father wouldn’t come home. I remember at the age of 8 or 9 years old dreaming my dad was coming home and every time I would miss his arrival and that really made me mad. On a stranger note I also remember thinking that perhaps we could go up to the cemetery (where I was told he also was – there and heaven?) and open the grave, because for sure he was alright and we could bring him home and why didn’t anybody think of that. It made no sense.

Then (kids are cruel), I remember at school others kids saying I had no father and so I used to come home and cry and cry for hours, asking my mom, why I didn’t have my father, when all the other children had a father and that I wanted him next to me so.

At the same time the balance a father gives was missing. You see, I believe moms and dads have different things to give to their children as persons, because their nature is different. So, if you only have input from one of them (mother or father, but just one, doesn’t matter which) you will miss certain things and teachings that only that one person may give you because it is his place and nature to give.

I also tried very hard to capture him, to capture his essence, which was all I could hope for, so perhaps that changed me also. I tried to find out who he was, not through what other people told me about him, but through what he left behind. I treasured his books, his writing, his photographs. I tried to reach him in the sentences he read in his books, what he had thought about them, what he felt. I tried so very hard, that I think now I became closer to him, than if he had lived and so he is, now and forever, my immortal.

In the long run I started picking it up as I grew, but the inexplicable feeling that I was abandoned, that my father had left me just because (although today I understand perfectly what happened) never went away. It’s not something rational, it is but a feeling. And then came the feeling that it could happen to anybody around me at any time, that nobody was for granted in my life and that what was true today, could very much not be so, tomorrow. It’s not that I cry, it’s not that I don’t live my life, it’s just that I live my life in spite of it, trying very hard its day to throw it to the back of my mind, so that I don’t allow it to run me over. I believe in the end it made me stronger, but why did it have to be so difficult? Why does it have to be so difficult?

Now, could it have been different? I think so. And that is why this article can make a difference.

My immortal

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Although I'm a strong believer in overcoming difficulties ourselves, I think a situation like losing a parent as a child is the exception.

I think that outside help is something the other parent must provide for the child. Probably the other parent is in no shape to help the child properly.

Even though, he or she, must try to the best of the abilities to reassure the child, tell the child how much she is loved, that the death of the parent is in no way reflex of the child's behaviour and that that parent is no longer with her, but that it wasn't his choice. This must seem basic, but it is not. These statements should be repeated to exhaustion, if necessary. So, the remaining parent must realise that the thoughts and the stream of thinking of the child is very different from adults.

Then, if possible, professional help should be sought. It is very important that the child is followed by a psychologist that understands what she is lacking and what she will be lacking in the future and what can be done to help her get through this in the best way possible.

A member of the family or a close friend should take it as his/her job to help the child get through this. As the other parent is probably (and will be for a long time) too grief struck to properly attend to the child's needs at this stage, another close person should do it. This means to talk to the child, to listen to her, what she thinks is happening, why she thinks that, explain how things will be from now on, what she can expect, what she can hope for. This is not something you do one day, this is something you will have to do on a daily basis for a very long time. And always, as silly as it may seem, reassure the child it was not her behaviour that brought this on her, reassure her she is loved.

Try to find other children or even adults who had a similar experience and have the child talk to them. They will understand her, she will see that, she will see she is not alone, she is not the only one and that will make so much difference.

Finally, school: in my days, and I think even more so now, teachers make a big deal out of each special day. One day it's mother's day, the other it's father's day, then valentine, then carnival, then...

Well, what if the father is no longer there? Every year I had to draw something on a postcard for my dead father and put it next to his picture. That was so frustating. Make sure you explain the child's teacher that it's necessary to give her a different treatment on that sort of things, make sure she does a little research on how to deal with these matters and make sure the teacher understands it might be necessary to involve the other parents and children at school. It's not that it's necessary to create a bubble, but it's that things should be done in a way that that child is not the one left outside the bubble in the pouring rain.

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In conclusion

Losing a parent as a child is something that will not go away on its own, it is something that needs to be addressed by those around the child. As difficult as it is, it can make a difference on how the child will live its life.

Today, even more so because of my own experience, as a mother, I dread that my children may be faced by something like this.

As parents none of us wants to imagine our children to grow up in fear. Acting, tackling the problem is the difference between our children living in fear forever or not.


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© Copyright Mar 02 2012 / Algarveview.hubpages.com. To use part or the whole article you must first get written permission from the author. Feel free, nonetheless, to use an intro of the hub with a link to the article here on hubpages for the rest of the article.

© 2012 Joana e Bruno

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Comments 58 comments

mana 4 years ago

I love you very much.

Only you to show so weel your feelings through the wiriting.

I understand you very much, like you know.

Were bad times but you grow up and became a strong person.


KikiCobain profile image

KikiCobain 4 years ago from Lancaster, Lancashire

Sorry to hear about your loss. I lost my father when I was ten and i agree with you that it can shape a person. Thanks for sharing.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Kiki, you are right, it shapes us and I think it makes us look at the world in a completely different way, that is very hard for other people to understand. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting.


Saleeln18 profile image

Saleeln18 4 years ago from Illinois

This is a really good hub.

I'm very sorry for you loss. I was 15 when I lost my father, not necessarily a child but I still know the pain it can cause and how it can shift a persons life, especially to younger children.

Anyway great job, very true and very informative.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, I'm also very sorry for your loss, 15 years old is a difficult enough age without having to go through such grief. Anyway, we all come out stronger in the end. Thanks for reading and for your feedback. All the best.


Saleeln18 profile image

Saleeln18 4 years ago from Illinois

Yes we do, and you're welcome.


LauraGT profile image

LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

Thanks of this hub. A friend just recently died, and has left behind a beautiful 11 year old girl. This is helpful to me in thinking about her experience.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Algarveview, I want say first off that you were a precious looking little girl and your father was a handsome man in his uniform there. My heart ached for you and family as I read about that morning; and farther on, well. This is not the place for me or anyone else but you to say why they believe these things happen. Your section on Making a Difference is one that hopefully will make a difference in lives. Bless you algarveview.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hi, Laura, I'm very sorry for your loss, it is always terrible, but especially because she left a child behind and so she will be missed forever in a way that really can't be explained. I hope this hub can be of some help. Be there for your friend's child and give her all your love, she needs it. All the best.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Alastar, thank you for your kind words. I think that there is really no reason in all this, it's just life. Anyway, I really hope that it does make a difference. All the best!


Farman 4 years ago

You made me cry like a child, remembering myself when my father passed away 30 years ago when I was 16, and how that changed my life ever since, imagining now how my other brothers & sister felt then in particular the one who was only sex. All I can wish now is not to let my children loos me ever.


Farman 4 years ago

I am so sorry for all what you have gone through, you didn't deserve all that sufferings in that age, as well as all other children who have gone through similar experiences.

I am stuck here, feeling like I don't want to leave this page!


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Farman, thank you so much for reading and commenting and I'm also very sorry for your loss. I guess we're all in it together. Feeling this grief that forever changed us and our lifes. I like to believe it made us better persons. I can relate to what you are saying, my sister was almost your age when our father died, she was 15, and was 6, so very much like your situation. Anyway, there is not much we can do now, except to go on with our lives the best we can. Perhaps our experience can help others, that's basically what I hope and, of course, as you mention, make sure our kids don't have to experience this. Strange feeling I've had ever since they were born: I keep thinking "what if something happens to me or their father?" Can't let them go through that. That is always at the back of my mind. Anyway, thank you so much for your words and all the best to you and your family. Have a wonderful day!


Farman 4 years ago

Thank you, sister, for you kind words...

I really wish you, deep from my heart, to enjoy every second in your life appreciating being near to your kid(s).

My youngest son is almost six, he is angle like so innocent just like yourself when at this age, its so devastating imagining those moments & heavy feelings you've gone through on him. Its nature system flaw, somehow, if we ever ask why unfair things like this would happen?.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Well, I guess it just life... We just have to do the best we can with what we have. I wish you all the best and hope you have a good day!


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

algarveview, I lost my father in an accident when I was 6. Our family dog had been run over and killed only a couple of months earlier, and her death had hit me hard, so when I was told my daddy was in heaven, I understood immediately what they were really saying, and it did not soften the blow at all. Besides all the things you described so well, I also lost my home, my friends and the life I knew. My dad's death affected every aspect of my life up to this very day almost 50 years later.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Sherry, I'm very sorry for your loss... I understand what you mean and what you feel... Fortunatelly, I did not lose my home and friends, but it changed me... It is something we can't put into words the right way, no amount of explaining will ever translate the amount of feelings, of fear, of anger, of sadness that comes from such a loss... So, I think that only another person that has experienced the same, such as yourself, will understand what it actually means... The good part, I guess, is that there aren't that many of us out there... My heart goes out to you...


aisha2012 4 years ago

Hello, I lost my father when I was 7 years old and my brother 5 years. It has changed me completely as a person and the sad part is no one understands how it feels. I am 30 years old but still feel miserable at times how it changed my life and why my family had to go through such hard ships. I have seen lot of humiliation cuz of financial problems in my life and have lived in fear anxiety insecurity. I don't understand why it happened to me and my family, the repercussions are even worse incase of my brother. i don't feel happy , am mostly sad. i don't k now how to get over it....


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Aisha, I understand your fear and anxiety and the fact is that probably it will never disappear, I live constantly with fear, I'm always afraid something bad will happen, I don't take anything for granted, but still we can't let that stop us, we have to rise above and beyond it, we have to learn to live with that fear and still live our lives as if it wasn't there. That actually makes us stronger, makes us special people that actually understand a bit better how precious the little things are, a smile from that person we love, a mental picture of that one moment... We can't let that fear hold us down... It was not fair, it's never fair to a child to lose a parent, but still it's just life... But because we lived it, because we experienced it, we can be stronger... You will find your way, turn that sadness into your strength and believe in you, you can accomplish anything... Take care...


nelly 4 years ago

I lost my dad in the war when i was 9 years old.It's been 18 years but i never got over it.I grew up sad,crying to sleep a lot i never understood why he had to leave.To this day, a day never passed by when i didn't think of him.I will always remember him young as he was only 34 years old.It is hard to loose someone.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hi, Nelly, it is very sad, especially in those cases when it's so sudden and your father was so young... It is very hard... And they become our immortals, we will always think of them and treasure the little things they left. I think that sad and hard as it is, it also make us appreciate more the other people we love, because we are so aware that they and us are not forever, so in the end perhaps some good can come of it... Thanks a lot for reading and commenting and take care!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Joana, this is a great insight into the mind of a child that loses a parent at a very crucial age in her/his life. You make very useful personal observations about what goes on in a cjild's mind as it is not fully able to understand the gravity of the situation, how others in the family need to come to the help of the child and guide him/her.

This is a very practical hub. I wish many people would read this to get an idea from the affected child's perspective.

Voted up, useful and interesting. Sharing this hub.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hi, Rajan, I thought it was an important subject - although it was hard to write about it - because most people (fortunatelly) don't realize how such a thing affects a child for the rest of his/her life, most people (fortunatelly) don't realize how fragile life is. Some of us learnt it very soon, the hard way... That realization makes life completely different... how in one moment we are here and the next... Cherishing each little moment, little thing, little gesture is so important... And the point you make, when you say we as parents have the responsibility towards our children to take care of ourselves, is so important... Because so many people don't realize that it can happen to them... But it can, none of us is immortal, and the best we can do for our children is to make sure that they have us, to care for them, to listen to them, especially while they need us the most, because in the end that is the most important thing in the world, to be there for them... Well, I could go on and on, since this is such a dear subject to me... But anyway, thanks for reading, commenting, voting and sharing! Have a wonderful day and take care!


Karamichelle 3 years ago

I lost my father whenever I was five. I can relate to every situation you went through and it is so nice to hear from someone else a similar situation. My father passed away in an unexpected incident. At the beginning I did not really understand I thought everyone was coming in town to see me! Growing up my grandpa stepped in as my male figure, he would go to "donuts for dads" with me. My fathers day cards were written to him. After I graduated I made it my goal to go to my fathers college he graduated from so that I could have a little piece of him. My first year in college I realized that all throughout highschool I had a fear of commitment in a relationship with a boyfriend. My fear was because I never wanted someone I loved to be taken away from me like my dad was. As I've gotten older I've learned more and more how to deal with my situation and it has only made me a stronger person today, and I've been able to appreciate things in life growing up. I was having a rough day today, and researched a little on the internet about losing a father at a young age and came across your post. I do not think I have ever done this. Your post was comforting, so you thank you :)


algarveview profile image

algarveview 3 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Karamichelle, I can relate to everything you said and I think that understanding we are not alone, that others feel the same is quite helpful and makes us feel a bit better... Because really this is something you have to live to understand, no amount of explaining does the trick and often I feel quite lonely that way, because around me (fortunatelly) not a lot of people know what I'm talking about... This hub I wrote about this subject was quite cathartic, I've been wanting to put it in words for so long, but it also drained me, reliving all those feelings... Anyway, I'm glad it helped you, that it brought you some comfort... And you are right, we became stronger, so... Thanks a lor for reading and commenting and take care!


Lisa W. 3 years ago

This is all very interesting. I lost my mother when I was almost 4 and my sister was 8. I barely remember that day and I don't remember my mother at all, but I miss her unbearably. I just know she was a beautiful lady from what family & friends have told me. I am 54 now, and this still bothers me a lot. But what I"d like to know is if anyone has been affected with life-long depression problems and sleep problems. My sister and I both deal with these issues and I'm wondering if it is because of the loss of our mother.


Tina K 3 years ago

Hi, I just had a 5th grade student lose her father suddenly. What can a teacher do at school to help (besides what you talked about regarding Father's Day)?


algarveview profile image

algarveview 3 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Tina, I think you could try to support her, that is, talking to her, finding out what her feelings are. I mean, not lecture her on the subject, but showing you care and that she can talk to you. Listen, really listen to her to try to understand what she thinks, what she feels... If you can understand what is going on in her heart you can decide on a course of action, because each child is different and deals with the pain in a different way, so what is okay for one may not be for another. Watching her behaviour also helps, her behaviour may change and can give you some clues on what she needs. But mostly she will need love, she will need a sense of safety and security, to know that although she lost her father she is still loved and that there are people there for her, that care for her. If there is someone you know who had a similar experience it would be really great if they could talk, I mean a now grown up who had that experience, because that person can really understand her and can make her realize that - despite this terrible loss - there is a future and that everything will work out alright. I hope this helps. Anyway, the fact that you are taking an interest only goes to show how much you care and that's really something. Have a great day and I wish you and your student the very best!


Lost 3 years ago

I also lost my father at age 6. I don't think a day goes by without my thinking about it. I don't dwell on it is just there... I'm going to be 50 in a couple of months, I have an advanced degree and am a medical professional, I'm told I look 10-15 yrs younger than my age. I'm a compassionate person who makes friends quickly BUT I never married never had kids. I have very low self esteem and I think all of it is tied to the death of my father. I have tried and tried to overcome the self esteem thing. I don't know wth else to do. It's do or die now. I have to learn to love myself somehow or it's going to be a long 40 or 50 years alone. This sounds pathetic, I know but can anyone relate ? I've tried therapy and doing it again now. Done the med thing. Already had substance abuse troubles. This has got to stop.


DR 3 years ago

To the last post. I lost my mom when I was 11 and, more recently, my dad when I was 35. I am now 41 (I am male). I have had a few long-term relationships but never felt like I wanted to get married, etc. I never felt like relationships were meant to last more than 3-4 years. I never wanted kids. I do not lack confidence, etc., but now that I am older and fairly alone (I just moved to a new area) I feel like I could want that for myself. I have always been successful at things that I do (sports, school, etc...but I work with a bit of fear of failure in everything that I do). I am a professional, attractive, fit, good job, etc...people usually guess my age at 30-35. Anyhow, your post made we think that we may be similar. I have no way of knowing what my attitudes would have been if my mother were still alive, but perhaps some of my attitudes and reactions have been due to my early experiences.


Sammy 3 years ago

My. Mom. And. Dad. And. My. Brothers. And. Sisters. All. 10. Died. By. The. 2004. Tsunami. When. I. Was. 11 years. Old.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 3 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

OMG, Sammy, I'm so sorry... I can't even begin to understand how you must feel... All that loss, all at once... No words... Just my heart to you...


Scott 3 years ago

I lost my dad suddenly aged 8. I recognise all the feelings you have expressed in your blog. I have had problems with drink in my early teens I've also visited a psychologist on several occasions in recent years, I'm now 42 but it didn't really help. I've a strained relationship with my mom and find it extremely hard to show her any affection. I also find it almost impossible to show any emotion. It does shape your life and change you and I've never really recovered fully. I also feel anger that I was not allowed to go to my dads funeral and why I can see that my mom was trying to protect me it was clearly the wrong decision. I do love my mom and see her every week and I understand her decisions but I feel that not allowing me to grieve has held me back emotionally in later life. Thank you for writing your blog it's interesting to hear people's thoughts who have experienced the same pain as yourself.


Rick 3 years ago

This was interesting to read. I lost my father when I was 9 years old. All of the stuff you said makes perfect sense, a lot of it matches my own experiences, but there is also a lot of stuff I had never really thought about. I'm 29 years old now, and if I'm completely honest, I'm still struggling with it a lot. I'm not unhappy, I'm enjoying life, but I'm in a lot of pain still. There's things about myself that I don't like. I ruin every intimate relationship I have after about a year. I never see it at the time but afterwards I can see that I have a tendency to live in my own little bubble, and sometimes I can be selfish and childish. I really hate that side of myself. Part of me thinks that I missed out on being taught any discipline. It's like I lost both my parents at the same time. My poor mum went totally off the rails for a very long time. I have two sisters also, one younger, one older. It was like I had to grow up overnight and become the man of the house to look after them, and in doing so, I put my own grief on hold, and I also lost my childhood. I'm a pretty quiet, calm person but I'm burying some anger and frustration that just never came out, I can feel it from time to time, it's very strong. It's strange that to all the people who know me and know I lost my dad 20 years ago, it's just something that happened to me a long time ago in the past, when in reality it's this huge thing that I still think about every single day and that has completely shaped me as a person. Another aspect of it that has made it harder for me as I've grown up is the realisation you get when you really reach adulthood. When I was a 9 year old boy who had lost his father, all I could see was what was happening inside the walls of my house - me, my mum and my two sisters. Now as an adult, I can see it all - my poor grandma who lost her son, my uncles and aunties who lost their brother, my dads friends and everybody else in his life. It's just so huge. Every now and then I get a horrible realisation that I can't remember the sound of his voice anymore, stuff like that is so scary. I cling on to all the memories I have of him and of us doing stuff together. He used to take me fishing a lot, and as a result of that I have an obsession with water, rivers and lakes - that's where I feel closest to him. I often wonder if I would be a completely different person if I hadn't lost him. One thing I know for sure is that the 9 years I did spend with him had a huge impact on me and the way I value things in life, and I will always be grateful for that. I'm going to stop typing now otherwise I might not stop. Thanks for writing this blog page - I'm glad I found it (today is the first time in my life I've googled "losing a parent")


Rick 3 years ago

Just to add one more thing to my post above. I really look forward to having a family of my own and I have often thought that I will come to terms with losing my father properly when I have my own children. I'd just like to ask the author if having a child of your own has changed the way you live with your fathers death?


algarveview profile image

algarveview 3 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Scott, thanks for reading and commenting... It's really great to feel that at least we are not alone, that there are others that understand us, that helps a little and it seems that we all have these wounds that just won't heal... Perhaps it is so, perhaps we will always feel like this, but I think that we can be whatever we want, in spite of these wounds... We just have to believe and go for it... I wish you all the best...


algarveview profile image

algarveview 3 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Well, Rick, it has... I think it made it a bit worse. I'm not trying to be negative, but the fact is that having children added much more fear to my life. I dread to think that they may lose me or their father. I obsess about it, especially at night when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep, it's not healthy let me tell you... But, of course, I don't advertise this feeling, I just live with it and I go about my business as usual... So, most people have no idea what goes on in my head. Anyway, I think it is healthy that we know what losing our father or mother did to us inside, so that we can understand the consequences and also our actions... Because if we know why we are acting a certain way, than we have the power to change it and, personally, that's basically what I do everyday. Thanks a lot for reading and commenting and I wish you all the best...Take care!


Jeff 3 years ago

Lost my dad to cancer when I was 6 and it was quite devastating. Luckily i was blessed with 4 older brothers and sisters and a loving mother to lean and support on. It was tough for that first year or so, but life has carried on for me. I remember feeling ashamed at first because I did not love the same things my dad did and I felt like I had let him down. One thing that helped was my sister explaining to me that there is life after death.


Samir Muj 3 years ago

Hi, I lost my dad when I was 6 and can definitely relate to this. I'm 27 now and it's been especially difficult the last several years of my life.


andy 3 years ago

I lost my mother to cancer when I was 8 years old, never. Truly got the chance to grieve, my dad sent me to school the next day, just guess he couldn't cope. 20 now and still struggle.


Ryan 3 years ago

My father passed away when I was nine years old and to this day, I am now almost 34, it is still extremely difficult. In fact, the other night I just burst in tears out of sadness. Throughout your whole article I felt many similarities, and a part which really resonated with me was when you said you were 8 or 9 and found yourself dreaming your father would come home. I did this often, mostly daydreaming, that my family would be seated at the table having dinner and my father would come in as if he never left.


Julie 3 years ago

I'm a mother of an 8 yr old who's father just died 7 weeks ago. What my son is going through is unreal. Every day in school us so difficult.....he feels so different, so alone. He thinks about his dad all day long. Tonight he told me that sometimes he thinks about wanting to be in heaven with his dad. This just ripped my heart to pieces!!! School isn't doing much to help....I have him in counceling. Trying to find someone who experienced something simuar so he doesn't feel so alone. I tell him constantly how much I love him.....cry with him.....spend so much time with him. Trying to ease his pain. Seems like school is the hardest time for him. We have strong faith and we pray all the time for comfort. Will he have comfort some day???


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

I wanted to say to Julie, that my dad died when I was 6, and I used to pray for hours, and all of my focus was on someday when I would be in heaven with my dad. It got better for me when I thought less about someday and realized that I had a whole life to get through before that could happen.

Tell your son that his dad wants him to have a good life, and that he hopes it will be a long time before they meet again in heaven. Things will never be the same, but this is his life now. He should live it in a way that will make his dad proud.


julie 3 years ago

Thank you so much Sherry! I love that last part, " this is his life now......live the way to make Dad proud.


Dominic Thewlis 3 years ago

I'd like to say thank you. Recently iv been struggling at college to deal with the fact that I will never have a father again in my life and I will never know what one is as I lost him when I was 4. Your right, it does shape you and this article is very true apart from I don't agree that a psychologist is needed as neither I nor my brothers have needed them buy nonetheless it wad helpful, thanks


Alexandra 2 years ago

Although he's still alive, I lost my father when I was 11. He had a heart attack that left him without oxygen for a significant amount of time. The result was he suffered from brain damage. He has short term and long term memory loss, creates absurd stories, and stays in a full time care housing facility. After the accident, me and my mum lived with him for 2 years where she took care of him. It was bad. He would often need to be cleaned up after soiling himself, forgot where he was if he stepped outside the house, and spoke nonsense. I think what hit me the most was he couldn't, and to this day doesn't, know who I am. I'm 21 now, and the scars from this have obviously left their mark. Especially because I really lost two parents that day. My mom didn't know how to raise me on her own, or maybe she just didn't have it in her. Try as I may to heal myself, it's a difficult journey. All I know is I've come far from the girl I used to be. Everyday is a struggle, but I've managed to cultivate some hope and an occasional joyous positivity that keeps pushing me along.


hamilton 2 years ago

I lost my dad when I was 3 and i have no memories of him other than coming home after he died and looking for him under the bed. I am 50 now and it had a profound effect on me. People think children are too young to be affected but that is not the case. I grew up in fear as I didn't understand what happened. Every time my Mum went out I was terrified she wouldn't come back. My Mum was great but understandably was very sad a lot of the time and i felt very lonely and unable to share my feelings with anyone which has continued to the present day.There was no help at that time and we all just struggled through. So my message is if a child loses a parent don't assume they are fine because they almost certainly wont be and need help and support as much as adults.


Els13 2 years ago

Wow, it's amazing to read all these comments. It's so recognizable.

I've lost my father when I was almost 4. My first memory is my mother explaining what happened to me, my brother (8) and sister (6). When I was 8 we also lost an aunt who lived across the street and one month later an other aunt (my godmother). I grew up with thinking it was normal to die that young.

My whole life when people find out that I lost my father at that young age I got a lot of : "You can't be sad, you never knew him." or "you were too young to understand". Yes I was very young, but I still had to live with the emptiness the fear of losing my mother.

I'm 32 years old and never had a real relationship. When someone gets to close I push him away.

It is a constant struggle and I can still cry about it.

But it feels nice to know I'm not alone, and the way I'm feeling is not abnormal. But a bit sad, that these feelings will never go away...

Great hub!


Carley 2 years ago

I lost my father when I was 10 years old. I am now 19 years old and am still trying to fight off this pain. Today has been very hard for me, so I googled some things to help, and that is when I came across this article. For the past nine years I have felt like no one would understand what I was feeling or going through on a daily basis, so I would keep it to myself. Nine years of holding in your emotions and pain can take a huge toll on a growing woman. Everything that I read in this article related to the exact pain I have been feeling for almost a decade. Sometimes I look back on when he passed and I feel so guilty for not being more sad, not crying that much, but I feel like I just didn't know how to handle it. I want to thank you for sharing this because it really made me feel like I am not alone.


longsummer 2 years ago

Thanks for tackling this subject so honestly and clearly. My heart goes out to everyone who has read it nursing that amorphous sense of loss. I lost a father to a divorce when I was 2. Not the same thing at all of course, but I never had any contact and always subliminally believed that I had caused the divorce, his departure and my mother's unhappiness. It's not been an easy road and there are overlaps with many of the feelings of loss and abandon that many of the commenters above mention. My hear goes out to you all with the hope that you all come to understand that you did nothing wrong and that the parents that you all lost would infinitely have preferred to stay with you and share your journeys with you.


michelle bauer 2 years ago

Ivlost my mom when I was 7. Ive been greiving for years. Im still mad and angrey. I just feel like part of my life is missing. I lost my daughters to cps. I did drugs and drank. Im still confused and my girls are out there hurting now because my own faults.


Olwen 2 years ago

Hello. I am now 14 years old; and I am facing the fact that I am going to lose my mother. I agree it can be very hard to bear with. My mother has a cancer. If she die, my brother and I would be the only ones left.

Anyway, thank you for sharing this . It showed me that life would be even harder when I lose my mother. I just hope that a miracle will happen.


algarveview profile image

algarveview 2 years ago from Algarve, Portugal Author

Hello, Olwen, I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through... But miracles do happen and I wish that a miracle happens for you, your brother and mother. I hope your mother gets better. My heart goes out to you...


SharonBallantine profile image

SharonBallantine 2 years ago

I am sorry for your loss. Losing a parent at any age is difficult, and the loss will have different ramifications depending upon where we are in our development. Whether the loss is sudden as was your case, or followed a long illness will also affect the child.

Regardless of when and how the death happens, it always has a powerful impact on our psyche and our life.

Sometimes the surviving parent does not have the skills or emotional ability to adequately care for the child, either physically or emotionally. This may be temporary or long-term, but can certainly compound the feelings of confusion, loss, and abandonment in a child.

Times like this we must rely on our "village" to help provide guidance and emotional support, and definitely call in professionals whether a psychologist, counselor, or member of the clergy.


Maya 23 months ago

My father died of an asthma attack when I was 2 (I'm 16 now) and my sister was 4, and I must say I completely agree with this article. Growing up I romanticized his death in a way; I would hum that song "On My Father's Wings" from the movie Camelot to myself when I was on the swings at school way back in elementary. Looking back at it, I think it was my way of holding on to this idea of who my father was, and this naivety that he would somehow return. Back then, his death never really affected me other in ways other than anger; I would always think to myself about how it could have been prevented, and how my mom would be so much happier. However, as I got older it hit me hard, and I do mean hard. As I got to an age that I begin to be more interested in guys, around 13 or 14, promiscuity came as well....well, sort of promiscuity. I didn't know what a healthy relationship looked like (my family is all in Poland and my mom has no time to date), so I honestly thought all I had to offer a guy was my body. My self-esteem went down the gutter. I began using substances which I shouldn't have been using, and it felt like my body was not my own as much as a public art piece that was only good for a steady flow of "compliments." I completely lost my sense of self. Since then, I have managed to become very confident and happy, but I still cannot find room for a guy in my heart, and instead decide to break their hearts before they can leave me and break mine. So yes, I completely agree that the affects of parental loss within young children are not acknowledged enough at all.


Joan 16 months ago

I lost my father when I was just 10. He died on fathers day. I was the last person who spoke with him that night. He went to bed early and i jumped in bed with him as I always did at times. He said to me "your daddy dont feel good". The next morning I woke to commotion and stayed in bed as I was scared. I thought I heard my dad on the phone saying "Im dead, Im dead" but in fact it was the neighbor calling the ambulance. My dad passed in his sleep of a heart attack. I stayed in bed until our neighbor and friend came in and then I went downstairs and mom was crying and she hugged and we cried. I had a very hard time dealing with his death in a silent world. I never let anyone see me cry. I would cry by myself mainly at night in bed. When you are that young you dont want the kids to know you lost a parent. I went to school and I remember the first day the teacher went around the classroom asking each of us what our fathers did for a living and I said my father is car salesman. I couldnt say my father died 2 months ago. My mom didnt know how much I was hurting although she did know I missed him so much. She was a wonderful mother and I was grateful to have had her in my life for 91 years. The grieving process begins again but in a different way. Im still not finished grieving my fathers dead that happened over 40 years ago. Everyone grieves differently. Some, like myself, it never ends. In closing it does help to write and also when a child losses a parent or someone very close to them it does effect their lives forever...


Jim 16 months ago

My father died unexpectedly in 1965 from a failed surgery, I was 6 years old. My first recollection was upon being told, that I then was the 'man of the house' and had to be strong for my mom and sister, who both were crushed. On top of his death, the sudden onset of 'manhood' and the feeling of being responsible, my mother took on a second job and a serious drinking problem.. thereby effectively removing herself from the scene. My father's family blamed my mother and withdrew from us and we had to move to a more affordable home.

It is certain that his death has had an gigantic effect on every part of my life and both good and bad results. Mostly the idea that nothing is guaranteed and that everyday is a gift has made me a more loving person but as the statistics above state, I would gladly give up one year of my life for a single day spent with my father. To not know him much at all is a really difficult postition to be in and I grieve for those who share this plight. Anyway, we have to play the cards we are dealt.


Joe 16 months ago

Dad died a heart attack when i was 8 . There is nothing that i dont remember of that day that was nov. 1961. Mom went to work i was youngest boy, sis and bro basiclly raised ourselves. I'm mad as heck now the man missed raising his kids i missed out on everything dad could have shown me. I went on got a trade raised my kids gave something that i had not had it made me stronger. Retired divorce loser mad i missed dad.

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