View Full Version : Death of a parent

06-12-2007, 12:20 PM
My MC is a 12 year-old girl, who at the age of 9 was involved in a car crash where her mother was killed, but she (obviously) and her father survived. The twist is that when the car was fished out of the river, her body had been washed away and was never found.

This is going to be such a hard thing to put down I know, and if this offends anyone or upsets anybody, please feel free to report this to the administrator and have it deleted. The last thing I want to do is bring back painful memories of a terrible time. I lost my mother to cancer 3 years ago, but at least I had a chance to say goodbye as it was a long illness and not a sudden loss.

What I'm after is what sort of emotions did you feel and how you came to terms with the loss of a parent so early in your life? How long did it take you to come to terms with it, and who were instrumental with the healing process? Also, did the remaining parent ever come to terms with it? I feel that I haven't properly addressed the healing process experienced by my MC. It is only a small part of one chapter, where the MC is talking to her best friend and it is not the main conflict, but I do want it to sound right.

If you don't want to explain it in an open forum, please send me a private message if you like. Like I say, this is a deeply personal event, and if just seeing the title in the forum is upsetting, please have it removed.

Many thanks for your help....

06-12-2007, 01:40 PM
I don't mind saying a bit. If you need more stuff let me know!

I lost my father when i was 5 - Lung Cancer and lost my mom when i was 16. - Heart attack.

For my Dad i don't remember him at all. The only memories i have are what i call second hand memories - Stuff my Mom told me and I have formed my own image of the those events. However saying that i do recall very vividly the evening and time my Dad died.

For my Mom it was very different and maybe some of these points will be the things your MC strugle with.

The night before I had a big blazing arguement with my Mom. I stormed up stairs. The next morning I was late for work so i rushed out. I thought my Mom was asleep in the chair. Later the police came to my work telling me that my Mom was dead. I was devestated. Later the doctor said it was a massive heart attack - 3 seconds. Man what can you do in 3 seconds?

The suddeness of her death left me feeling totally alone and guiltly. All the things i wanted to say to her- I love you, tell her how i feel (but as a teenage boy i was getting "macho" so didn't share with my Mom much) but now i couldn't. She was gone. I have 2 brothers and a sisiter but I still felt totally alone. I even tried to kill my self. I was so over come with loneliness and guilt. I had blamed my self for her death for many years. If only i had not been so pig headed and argued with my Mom she would be alive now. People told me to be strong so I stop crying. I didn't even cry at the funeral. This is a "heavy trip" for people. My mom meant the world to me.

Healing took a long time and began from an unsual place. My friend told me of a song that they liked and that she though that i would like it too. So i listened to the song.

It is called "Roses for Momma". Quick pass out the tissues! The song is about a man and it is his Mom's birthday. He goes to a flower shop and orders red roses to be sent to his Mom. In the shop is a little boy who wants 5 red roses for his Mom's birthday coz thats how old he is. However he doesn't have enough money. SO the man pays for the flowers. Later he sees the boy kneeling at the side of a grave. He goes over to the boy and the boy says this is where his mom stays. The man goes back to the shop and takes the flowers to his Mom himself.

When I heard this the dam broke. I sobbed and sobbed, deep sobbing. It was nearly my Mom's birthday and her last birthday i too had given my Mom red roses. I cried and couldn't stop for about 40 mins. After this i was able to cry and release the hurt much more easily.

As for the guilt that took a lot longer. Years later i came to the place where i was able to forgive myself and realize that it wasn't my fault for her death. I was freed from this heavy burden.

I think you could use this stuff. Yes it OK with me! Why not have your MC have an arguement with her Mom the night before or even in the car so that she is filled with guilt and blames herself, even though it was an accident. This will add to the tension and struggle of your MC. Also maybe she was closer to her Mom than her Dad. SO feels isolated coz he has an hard time dealing with it too.

Also you have "NOT FOUND HER MOM'S BODY". This is left open so perhaps she is not dead but alive and maybe suffered a memory loss. Which slowly comes back.
Just a couple of ideas.

Hope this is useful to you.

06-12-2007, 02:22 PM
Hi MyTorch - I was "mature" when I lost my parents but I may be able to add to your data bank a bit. When I was about 9 our family dog disappeared. I spent days looking for him. Six months later I would still go out to the backyard and call him hoping he'd show up. Later in life we lost another dog (died at the vets) but we didn't see the body. There's an unexplainable hope that maybe the animal (or person) is still alive if there's no physical evidence of death. I think it's very possible your MC would have a similar reaction and look for her mother, or see someone walking towards her far down the street and think it was her mother. You know what you've been told, but you just don't want to accept it because there's no proof. My input. Puma

06-13-2007, 01:54 PM

If you don't receive as many replies through this thread as you hope for, please feel free to PM or e-mail me.

Shortly before I turned three, my mother died at the age of twenty-five, due to complications following childbirth. Circumstances eventually took my siblings and me to live with our paternal grandparents. When I was 12, my grandmother was killed in a car accident.

I have many memories of my relationships both women. I also have many memories about how their sudden and unexpected deaths affected my dad and granddad. Ultimately, one has no better alternative to the loss of a loved one than to grieve, accept what happened, and move on.

06-15-2007, 01:19 PM
Hi there,

Have you got all the information you need? My Dad died when I was 14 and I still remember it vividly. I was very close to my mum at the time but I hid a lot of my feelings because I didn't want to make her even sadder than she already was! I went to boarding school and kept an awful lot to myself afterwards. I was due to do my Diploma in piano the following month and I stopped playing altogether and never played again.
Who helped? Help came in the form of great friends about 20 years later - in my 30s I sorted my head out and got rid of the guilt and confused feelings about the whole thing. Death is always associated with guilt so be sure your character remembers all the 'bad' times - and what she should have said/done/how she should have behaved but didn't - that sort of thing.
My mother never recovered from it, was incapable of dealing with it. She did her very best bringing up 4 children (I was the youngest) but the bitterness she felt was transferred to all of us in later life and she died lonely, bitter and estranged from all of us - although she refused to admit that up to the day she died. She got so caught up in her own tragedy that she never really moved on from there.
I think, however, that for a daughter to lose her mother is - and I mean this in the best possible way - even worse than losing her father. There is so much that a mother and daughter would share - or 'should' share (!), that a father will rarely (but there are exceptions) be a substitute for.

My niece lost her mum very recently. She's 15 and she broke down very recently buying a dress for her school prom, because Dad wasn't enough and she felt it was all wrong to have anybody else taking her mum's position here. I'm sure there are billions of instances like that which would be very 'real' for your character, too.

Hope this helps a little bit.


06-16-2007, 12:06 AM
My father died unexpectedly in June of the year I turned 15, and my mother died after a long illness (cancer) in September of the following year.
I chiefly remember how overwhelming the grief was - there was no verbalising of the loss at all, it was so completely present all the time. I never forgot it, even when first waking up.
Something to consider, perhaps, is how that loss is taken out on other people in the child's life. I had never been rebellious with my parents, but my guardians had a more authoritarian approach, and every time the law was laid down about how teenagers should behave, it jarred me, and reminded me that my parents had treated me differently.
In the longer term, it's affected my faith in close relationships. I have difficulty believing that anyone could value my company just because of who I am, and believe that I have to earn my place by providing some service, like being a good listener and shoulder to cry on, etc. Because the people who would and did love me unconditionally are dead.
Another possible response is refusing to love or be attached to anything, because every attachment creates the risk of further loss. I think part of the healing process is becoming willing to take that risk.
Don't know if any of that is relevant. Feel free to pm me.
-Barbara (much older now)

06-16-2007, 12:18 AM
My mother killed herself when I was 6. I'm 46 now and still am not over it. So maybe your MC will be a zero like me and pitch their whole life over it. I hope not.

06-16-2007, 01:31 AM
My father died when I was nine. You do a lot of fantasizing about what kind of person they were or would have been, as you grow up. That said, as a child, I stopped being sad fairly quickly, but the lack of him came back at me at predictable intervals - milestones and such.

I found that adolescence was particularly fraught with mines when I thought my life was not what I wanted it to be. Blaming him or falling morose over his death was a convenient hole to wallow in, but most young people will find a lifetrench (or dig one) to duck and cover in during the hormone tempests.

I haven't been sad about my father in ages. But, then again, I'm a bit of a post.

Mud Dauber
06-17-2007, 06:33 AM
:Hug2: That's for everyone who's had to go through such a terrible loss.

And oh my... that song with the roses...:cry:

06-19-2007, 05:57 PM
Thanks for all your input to this terrible question. I know it must have been hard, and for that I thank you. I will be able to adjust the emotional reactions of the MC when her mother is mentioned to make it sound more believeable. Thanks once again, you've all been a great help.

06-21-2007, 12:09 PM
Just a quick note.

I forgot to mention that when ever i wanted to talk to people about my Mom they would say:
"Let the dead bury the dead". I wasn't allowed to talk to people. I was so frustrated at times coz i wanted to talk but they would not let me. WHY won't you let me talk about her? I would ask them but they just quipped she gone let her go? THIS didn't help me at all because i was been denied a major part of my healing and that is facing, dealing AND talking about my mom's death. BUT This pushed my feeling even deeper into myself. I was so frustrated i felt like i would explode if i didn't talk to some one. But no one at that time wanted to listen. So I bottle every thing up and stopped talking about my mom all together. Later these same friends asked me why i never spoke about my mom. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!! These stupid people!!!!!!!!!!!