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One in nine children in the U.S under the age of 20 experiences the death of a parent. Sadly, I'm among those that made up that statistics. I was 8 years old when my mom passed on.
18 long years have since gone past, but I still haven't gotten over her death completely. And saying I should "just get over it" tells me that you don't understand. Because there are so many things you may never understand unless you lost any of your parents as a child.
Here are 20 things I wish more people understood about those of us who lost a Parent as a Kid.
1. We tend to be hyper independent.
For most of us, the thought of being dependent or needing someone is scary. We find it very hard to ask people for favours too. We look for nurturing and we appreciate being cared for, but don't expect us to ask for it.
2. We feel awkward each time Mother's or Father's day is celebrated.
Mother's Days or Father's Days are supposed to be days of joy. For us, it is usually a day for us to remember again what we wish never happened. It doesn't mean that we walk around with sad faces, but don't be surprised if you occasionally see us lost in thought. That could be us remembering our dead parent.
3. We tend to become very protective of our loved ones.
The experience of losing a loved one makes us to naturally become defensive and more protective of all our loved ones.
4. All we have are memories, please don't spoil them.
We know every human being has a flaw including our dead parent, but please don't rub it in our faces. Most times we imagine them to be saints who never had a weakness, especially if we were very close. Please don't spoil that memory for us, it is all we got.
5. As kids, we worry a lot about our future.
When we lose a parent, we become afraid of what the future holds. Chief of all our worries is usually about whether we would still be adequately taken care of.
6. We still mark their birthdays and days of passing yearly.
My mother died on the 28th of February. I can never forget that date.
7. We always think that our lives would have been better if they didn't die.
I know we are supposed to grow up and deal with life. Still, we can't help imagining that things would have been a lot better if they didn't die.
8. Even as adults, we still miss them
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Time may heal all wounds, but it does nothing about the scars. So please try and understand if at certain times we say that we miss our dead parent(s).
9. We specially remember our loved ones during milestones in our lives.
The thought of losing a parent is usually strongest when we are supposed to be celebrating. Graduation parties, wedding ceremonies, baby showers, promotions, etc. Thoughts of not having them to celebrate with us may make us shed a tear or two.
10. We worry a lot about losing the surviving parent.
While growing up I worried so much about losing my father. The fear of being made to live with foster parents or distant relatives haunted me for years. Thankfully, it never happened.
11. Our loss makes us very compassionate.
We tend to overwhelm other people with care that they sometimes don't need. We are merely overcompensating for our loss by trying to make sure that every other person gets taken care of.
12. Telling us to "get over it" never helps.
Sometimes we get emotional when we remember our dead parent(s). It doesn't happen all the time, so bear with us and don't tell us to "get over it."
13. We tend to internalize our emotions a lot.
We bottle up our feelings a lot because most people don't understand us and we are afraid of appearing odd.
14. We love to withdraw from people occasionally.
Sometimes we like having our space. You can gently draw us out in such cases, but don't try to force us out. It will only make us to keep away from you.
15. It is not okay to never talk about the death.
As a child I never had the chance to talk about my dead mom either with my dad, or other relatives except occasionally with my sister. Her death was treated as if it didn't happen and I never knew how to deal with the grief.
16. We are usually susceptible to depressive thoughts.
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I remember having terrible mood swings and getting depressed often as a teenager. It took me time, reading self-help books and listening to messages to get over them.
17. We love to talk about them and relieve beautiful old memories we have of them.
During the Christmas holiday two years ago, I visited my mom's younger sister. I needed her to tell me about my mom. My father never talked about her and I really wanted to know who she was.
I had questions about her ideologies, and what growing up was like for her. I smiled when I saw I could relate with some of her experiences.
18. "Protecting us" from the reality of our dead parent is not ideal.
Many times people tend to try to protect kids from the reality of having a dead parent. They do this with the best intentions, but they produce the opposite result.
19. Some of us suffer from anxiety.
Many of us tend to worry about things more than the average people.
20. We find it difficult forming internal bonds.
Here's the logic: We lost someone we probably had one of the strongest bonds with. This puts a scare in us. We subsequently shy away from opening up to people and forming strong bonds with them because we are subconsciously afraid we may lose them too.