4 Things No One Tells You About Losing Your Mother At 17.
1. People will belittle your pain, without realizing.
On May 18th, 2016, my Grandmother died from Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, at the age of 63. My Grandmother passed away 17 days before my High School Graduation, and 19 days before my 18th birthday.
I used to get extremely defensive when people would tell me "She's okay now, she's in peace", "At least she's with God now", or "I know exactly how you feel, I lost my Grandmother too".
I knew and remembered exactly what I had to witness, the emotions that I had to feel, watching her go through intense Chemotherapy, watching her cry, watching her take her last breath. How could anyone possibly understand how I was feeling?
We all are guilty of placing our suffering in a hierarchy. We assume that losing a Grandparent isn't as tragic as losing a parent, that we assume dying in your sleep isn't as painful as dying from cancer. We assume losing a parent at a younger age, isn't as bad as losing a parent as an adult. It took me several months after my Grandmother's passing, to understand that my emotions & feelings belong to myself, and nobody else.
2. You'll get to know your loss within time.
Understanding the extent of my loss didn't come immediately. I had a difficult time mourning my Grandmother's death after it had happened. As selfish as this sounds, I don't remember crying the day that my Grandmother passed away, or crying during her Services. The amount of shock that I was in, took over my body. I was in so much shock, that I couldn't take time to properly grieve, or feel my inner emotions.
The weight of my grief comes during random stages of my life. It came when I turned 18 and couldn't experience my Grandmother's loving voice telling me that she loved me. It came when I graduated and only saw my Grandfather sitting in the stands. It came when I heard her favorite songs on the radio. It came when I saw pictures of our family. It came when I woke up from "visitation dreams". It came when I would cry over a breakup and didn't have my Grandma there to hold me. It came during the Holiday season. It comes around during December & May. I have come to realisation that the more time that passes in life, the more my loss hits.
Losing a parent at a young age means that you learn your loss as you get older. You not only learn to live a life without them, but eventually, you learn what it means to live without them.
3. You will dread the day that you no longer remember them.
This day was extremely difficult for me. It happened about a year after my Grandmother's death. I remember being on my computer looking through old pictures & videos that I hadn't of seen for years. I came across one video that I took when I was 15 years old. I was sitting next to my Grandmother as I was playing the game "Temple Run". All I could hear was my Grandmother's voice talking to my older brother in the background. It broke me inside because as time goes on, you slowly start to forget what someone's voice sounds like, what their laugh sounds like, or what their smile looks like, or the scent of perfume that they always wore.
When you lose a parent at a young age, all you have are the memories that you shared together for the short time that you had with one another. You tend to cling on to the memories that you have left of them and begin to panic and hurt even when even the biggest memories start to get blurred. The memories that my Grandmother shared can be my biggest blessing, and curse.
4. You learn that people don't always keep their word.
Shortly after my Grandmother died, my phone flooded with texts, calls, and messages from friends and family letting me know "If you ever need someone to go too, let me know. I am here for you".
Although my loved ones did show me their condolences and support for a little while, it didn't last long. After my High School Graduation everyone disappeared from my life. Occasionally I have people check up on me, but it is very seldom. I learned one of the biggest lessons of life at only 17.
© 2018 Ashley Riley