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Artifex
03-29-2013, 12:53 AM
I am starting this thread in case anyone who's lost a parent would like to share their experiences.

I am working on a murder mystery. My MC is a young woman who has lost her mother at the age of 7 and father at the age of 16.

Although this is not a part of the main plot line, it is something that my MC reflects (among other things) throughout the story, so I would like to have a better understanding of the emotions and memories involved. I am especially interested in the emotional experiences of losing a parent; both in childhood and in adulthood.

My only real-life knowledge on the topic comes from my mother, who lost her father when she was 4 and her mother when she was 14 and from my father, who lost his father at 13. I have learned a fair amount from what they have told me about their experiences, but if anyone else would like to tell me about their own experiences, I would greatly appreciate it.

LJD
03-29-2013, 01:29 AM
You might check out Motherless Daughters (Hope Edelman)

I read this sort of as research because one of the MCs in my women's fiction book lost her mom at 17, and also because my own mom died when I was 25. The book is mostly personal experiences, especially among those who lost their moms before 18.

Artifex
04-02-2013, 12:11 AM
You might check out Motherless Daughters (Hope Edelman)

I read this sort of as research because one of the MCs in my women's fiction book lost her mom at 17, and also because my own mom died when I was 25. The book is mostly personal experiences, especially among those who lost their moms before 18.

This book sounds like it could be very useful to me. I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip!

shakeysix
04-02-2013, 12:53 AM
My husband lost his mother suddenly, when he was eight. He had five siblings. He, and at least two others had problems with depression. One thing I noticed about my husband: He hated plans, could not stand to make a plan that took us more than a couple of weeks into the future. It drove me nuts but in my thirties I went into counseling and my counselor explained that the future never held anything good for him. After his mother died he went to live w/his grandparents. They died over a couple of years, leaving his unmarried aunt to raise the family. She was a high school teacher and loved the kids, giving them stability and affection but it wasn't enough. He had been burned by the future and could not trust it.

He and his sibs had a rule-- if it was sad,they never mentioned it. They lived in a land of sitcom bliss. One could be dying of cancer --as several did--but no one ever said the word cancer. Huge scandals and crises--suicides, rehabs, jail time, divorces-- were never ever mentioned. Long after someone died we would find out "The Rest of the Story." His own brother once spent months missing. Turned out he was in a Mexican jail. My husband didn't find that out till eleven years after the fact! s6

Dreadful Romantic
04-02-2013, 01:31 AM
I lost my father when I was 10. He was terminally ill and passed away at home, per his wishes, when he was 31.

I'd prefer not to post my feelings and experiences about this on a public forum, but if you shoot me a PM, I'd be happy to elaborate further via email.

Artifex
04-05-2013, 02:32 AM
My husband lost his mother suddenly, when he was eight. He had five siblings. He, and at least two others had problems with depression. One thing I noticed about my husband: He hated plans, could not stand to make a plan that took us more than a couple of weeks into the future. It drove me nuts but in my thirties I went into counseling and my counselor explained that the future never held anything good for him. After his mother died he went to live w/his grandparents. They died over a couple of years, leaving his unmarried aunt to raise the family. She was a high school teacher and loved the kids, giving them stability and affection but it wasn't enough. He had been burned by the future and could not trust it.

He and his sibs had a rule-- if it was sad,they never mentioned it. They lived in a land of sitcom bliss. One could be dying of cancer --as several did--but no one ever said the word cancer. Huge scandals and crises--suicides, rehabs, jail time, divorces-- were never ever mentioned. Long after someone died we would find out "The Rest of the Story." His own brother once spent months missing. Turned out he was in a Mexican jail. My husband didn't find that out till eleven years after the fact! s6

Thank you for sharing your experience. It's very useful to get different kinds of experiences than just that of my parents.

Artifex
04-05-2013, 02:34 AM
I lost my father when I was 10. He was terminally ill and passed away at home, per his wishes, when he was 31.

I'd prefer not to post my feelings and experiences about this on a public forum, but if you shoot me a PM, I'd be happy to elaborate further via email.

Email or PMs of course work very well, too. I will figure out how to send a PM and send you my email.

kkbe
04-06-2013, 12:45 AM
My dad died suddenly when I was four. We kids were alone a lot and sometimes we were heathens. We used to make snow ice cream--snow with sugar and vanilla extract. And fish sandwiches which were toast and mayonnaise.

It's hard for me to trust people and I don't feel like I fit in sometimes.

jaksen
04-07-2013, 05:27 AM
My father lost his mother at 14, and as an adult he often spoke of the experience with great sadness. There were six children, a father who drank and moved around a lot, and some physical abuse. After she died, any semblance to a happy, functional family was forever lost.

Things changed, a little, when his father remarried, but my father was an adult by then (and going off to war, WWII.) Despite all this, my father respected and spoke highly of his own father. I did not learn about the problems in the family, and the abuse, until many years after my own father passed away. (Other family relatives filled me in.)

I lost my father thirty years ago, and I still feel his loss every day. I know that sounds sort of trite, and many people say it. But when they do, I believe them. I'm not consumed by unhappiness, as that's not how he lived or would want me to live, but I miss him to this day and often speak about him with my own children.

storygirl99
04-08-2013, 04:33 AM
I lost my mom suddenly when I was 23. My experience was very different form my brother, who was 15 at the time.

I grieved openly for my mom, and although I still miss her terribly, I take comfort in the fact that I have no regrets about my relationship with her. I had outgrown the adolescent years when I fought with her and we butted heads over mom-teenager stuff. but my brother was a very difficult teenager and I know he struggles to this day with the fact that he and my mom were in conflict when she died.

My mom died in November, and at Christmas, my dad brought out a wrapped package he had found in her closet. He did 't know what it was, but he figured it was for one of us three kids. We opened it together, and when my brother (still 15 years old) saw it, he immediately broke into a wailing sob. It was a picture book of loons. The summer before, my mom had picked him at camp in Minnesota--it was a place they both loved and where they'd had their last really good time together. He said he and my mom sat out on the lake and watched the loons dive into the water. She must have picked up the book there and wrapped it with the intention of giving it to him for Christmas.

I am remembering now that when my mom was buried, my brother literally threw himself on the casket at the cemetery. It seems that his memories of her are all tinged with the regret that she died before he grew out of his teenage rebellion. My memories are reassuring and warm and evident of our closeness at the time of her death.

DancingMaenid
04-08-2013, 01:11 PM
I lost my father when I was 13. He'd been sick for around a year.

To be honest, I found the experience more emotionally draining and numbing at the time than anything else. For a year, I'd watched him get sicker and sicker, and slowly realized that he wouldn't be getting better. I spent a great deal of time at the hospital. I feel like a lot of the turmoil I experienced took place during that period of time. There was constant stress, which I felt like I couldn't express openly because there was pressure to stay positive. There were days when I'd go outside to take out the garbage and would just stay out there for a few minutes because it was peaceful, and would daydream about just walking away and not stopping.

I expected to feel really emotional about my dad's death. But when it actually happened, I cried once and then didn't feel that much of anything. I felt like there was a big cloud over me, but I wasn't emotional, and I thought something must be wrong with me for grieving that way. Honestly, I think watching him get sick was a bigger trauma. As time went by, some things would trigger an emotional reaction. Like, trying to observe holiday traditions that reminded me of him was very painful, and I couldn't listen to an album that I'd been listening to when I first learned that his cancer was terminal. I also didn't feel comfortable talking about him, or his death, for a long time. I didn't even like discussing memories of him that much. With time, that got easier.

Now, as an adult, I miss things about him that I couldn't have appreciated when I was 13. It would have been nice to have known him when I was older, because he was an intelligent man who was well-read and had had a lot of interesting experiences, and at 13, there were a lot of things I never would have thought to ask him about. Frankly, I also think about practical things occasionally, like how nice it could have been to have his income at times.

paulcosca
04-11-2013, 02:46 AM
My experience is likely to be very different than that of some others. Whether or not it will be entirely useful for your story, I'm not sure.

My mother, in many ways, was a failure. By the time I have any memories (maybe 5 or 6) we were living in abject poverty. She was a hardcore alcoholic; I have no memories of her completely sober. By the time I was born, my birth father was out of the picture (I never met him and don't blame him at all for leaving).

When I heard at age 14 that my birth father had passed away, the only emotions I felt were anxiety about what might have been his cause of death. Once I got word that it was not something directly genetic, I let it go. I've often been asked if I was interested in learning more about his family (he had other children and had surviving parents). I have no interest. He is part of my genetics but certainly not part of my family.

By the time my mother came to stay when I was 15, I'd already been living with my grandparents for 3 years. Her liver was failing after decades of alcoholism, and it's miraculous she didn't die the day she came through the door, completely jaundiced and crashing. She lived, however, for another year.

When she slipped into a coma a few months after my 16th birthday, I went to visit her once in the hospital. I did my best to feel something for her, but there wasn't a whole lot there. She'd let me down so greatly in my youth that the only thing I felt for her was resentment. In deciding to ruin her own life, she'd severely damaged those around her. I felt lucky to have gotten out before the damage was permanent, but I certainly hadn't forgiven her for throwing her life away.

When she died, I was relieved. She'd been a burden on a great many people. When my brother paid for her burial expenses, I was confused. He'd gotten many more years of her than I did. Why he would do such a thing was something I could not understand.

I know that for many, the respect and love that one carries for their parents is unconditional. I can respect that, and I can even understand it. But for me, it was not the case. I have, at times, pitied my mother. But I have never since her death felt sadness for her passing. She knew she was killing herself and never bothered to stop or ask for help. I've little to no interest in really understanding her, if I'm honest.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
04-11-2013, 03:24 AM
I lost my father to cancer when I was 13. He was only 47.

He'd been a judo sensei for years, and had been complaining about aches and pains for months, but didn't go to the doctor until late February of 1980. He had my mother drive him out to the hospital at the Air Force Base. They found a hospital room in Austin for him that night.

He was only in for a month, during which they ran every test under the sun. I was sheltered from much of his illness by my mother, who would send me down to get him some lime sherbet or something. I wanted to spend time with him, but couldn't. About mid-March they discovered it was cancer, and it had metastasized until it was out of control. They told us we could go ahead and take him home, since there was nothing more they could do for him.

We brought him home March 31st, and he died the next day. April Fools Day has always been a very sad, depressing day for me. The song "Sailing," by Christopher Cross came out not long after that, and always makes me want to cry, because it reminds me of this time.

I was sad when it happened (I was a daddy's girl), but it wasn't until about five years later that it hit me really hard, all at once. I was in bed with my ex boyfriend, and just started bawling, and he didn't know what was wrong. I just remember saying "I miss my dad" over and over. I just kind of lost it, in a bizarre delayed reaction.

It was worse because of how my mother acted afterward. She took up with a guy she'd known from high school (who was "in the process of getting a divorce from his wife," the old story). We were a back street family to this guy for a decade-- they finally married in 1988 and divorced in 1990. Their screwed up relationship is now part of the reason I no longer speak to my mother.

I consider the death of my father to be THE worst thing that ever happened to me, simply because of all the awful stuff that happened after it and because of it (even my MS diagnosis wasn't as bad).