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How do you grieve at a young age?

Updated on August 4, 2016

My personal experiences.

I want to first start back from when it began. I can't pin point the exact age, in which, it began. It began around the time that I was approximately 5 years old. There were small things that were noticed. At the time those small things didn't appear to be much. Until the pieces were placed together many years later.

It wasn't until the time that I turned 10 years old that my mother's condition had progressed to a point that it could no longer be ignored. It was a daily struggle for my family. At the time it was just a small portion of our family. It was my sister, father, mother, and myself. Despite that I have other siblings, they were living separate lives at the time that we discovered her condition. Unfortunately at the time of discovery my mother had been suffering from the condition since approximately her middle to late 20s. She was now in her middle to late 30s.

A little bit more about my mother's condition. After extensive observation from a local hospital emergency room, it was discovered through the assistance of a mental health doctor, that my mother had paranoid schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia is a subtype of schizophrenia in which the patient has delusions (false beliefs) that a person or some individuals are plotting against them or members of their family. Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common schizophrenia type (from medicalnewstoday.com).

There was a court mandate set in place that required my mother to seek mental health treatment at a facility approximately an hour away from our home. Despite the treatment and counseling that was mandated by the court, the treatment and counseling didn't prevail. Within approximately a year her condition had only progressed to a worse state. I was 11 years old and almost 12 years old at the time of the hospitalization.

Efforts were expressed by my father, sister, and myself to assist in the management and treatment of my mother's condition. Our efforts, unfortunately, proved to be ineffective. In August of 2006 I lost my mother to the fight against mental illness. It was a hard time for our family. My sister and I were losing a beloved mother and my father was losing his soulmate. The world as we knew it was falling apart. Although my mother had an illness, she was the glue that held us all together with her strength and perseverance.

It was on the fateful date of August 17, 2006 at approximately 12:00 pm that we received a knock on our door. It wasn't until my father opened the door that we knew just how bad our world was destroyed. Two local police officers arrived to provide us with the sorrowful news that my mother had committed suicide and was found in our family vehicle. A trip to the hospital was the next step in our agenda for the day. After vigorous questions from law enforcement and doctors we made our way home to what now felt like an empty home.

The days to come were by far the hardest. The affairs had to be put in place and family members had to be told of the loss. Family gathered round to provide each other with support and a shoulder to cry on. I never would have imagined at the age of 12 that I would have to learn how to grieve the loss of a loved one. A mother, a best friend, a mentor, and my rock. To say I was heartbroken and lost was understatement.

Eventually I learned how to cope with my loss. I resorted to rebelling against my family at first. From there I resorted to leaning on family and friends. When it no longer helped to talk to family and friends, I sought professional counseling assistance. For a time it was useful and helpful. I had to learn how to accept that she was no longer a part of my life and that I could continue to live an enjoyable life without her.

As the days and years passed. The pain began to dull. I slowly became accustomed to the dull ache in my heart. I grew up faster than most and took on challenges that most wouldn't dream about trying to handle. I took it in stride and progressed one day at time. At the time there was no other way to deal with the pain, anger, loss, and frustration that was boiling inside me. I later discovered how to forgive, cope, live, and push forward.

I now find that I struggle less with the loss of my mother and more with the idea that I have many unanswered questions. Those questions may never be answered. It's a thought that I will need to find a way to handle.

Facts about children losing a parent.

Based on facts found on childrensgriefawarenessday.org.

  • 1 in 5 children will experience the death of a loved by the age of 18.
  • 1.5 million children are living in a single-parent household because of the death of one parent

Based on a Childhood Bereavement Study

  • 56% of respondents who lost a parent growing up would trade a year of their life for one day with their departed parent.
  • 72% believed their life would have been "much better" if their parent hadn't died so young.
  • 69% of Americans who lost a parent growing up still think about their parent frequently.


Loss of a parent.

Have you lost a parent? How old were you when it happened?

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