Lost and Gained

Look at me. This is what I think you see. You see a girl who lost her dad. You see a girl with a single parent.   But this is what I see when I look at myself.   I see a strong woman with a strong single mom. I see a girl who once had a dad and still has a dad,  but now not physically.

In 2012, my father drowned in Lake Michigan. Although he saved two boys, his three children lost him. This story is not merely about the fact that  I lost my dad,  it’s really about how I grew as a human being.

Being female has always been a huge part of my life. My mom always taught me to take pride in being a woman and to be strong. She showed me that I have a mother who is caring, loving, strong and powerful.

When I lost my dad my mother became a single parent. Being a parent is hard, but being a single parent is harder, especially with three adolescent children.  But having a single parent has been one of the most important factors in my life. It has helped shape me into who I am and who I’m going to become. Having a single mom showed me what being a strong woman is really all about.  

After losing my dad I also realized that my siblings were going to be there for me. They were going to be my rock. We understood each other. Even though people told us they knew what we were going through, they didn’t. Not the way we did.  

Losing a parent is unexplainable, it is like you are missing part of your heart and a part of yourself and you gain a label. I knew I would go to my siblings for everything, and I knew they were going to be there for everything. I remember lying on my sister’s bed crying about how I got the least time with my dad. She hugged me and told me all the memories she had watching my dad carry me in his arms, playing baseball with me and his late night Best Buy runs with my siblings. My siblings were the people who gave me hope that everything was going to be okay.

When I went back to school in September, everything really hit me. I realized I was going to be that girl who lost a parent. I knew that everyone in the classroom would be cautious talking to me, not wanting to hurt my feelings in any way. I remember coming into my  second grade classroom and seeing all my classmates sitting on the rug. As I sat down I felt eyes watching me full of pity. I immediately felt like an outcast. Sitting next to me was a girl named Grayson. She introduced herself and almost immediately we became friends, the first friend I made after my dad passed away.  All the trust falls and paper fortune tellers made me realize that having fun with Grayson was an antidote to my sorrow. Grayson had proved me wrong. She proved to me that I wouldn’t be looked at as just the girl who had lost a parent. She showed me I could still be happy and have fun without feeling guilty.

Another door that opened for me after my dad passed away was finding out  more about his importance in his field. To me, he was just a guy who wore scrubs and untied worn tennis shoes who happened to be my father. But when I heard the distant chattering of people who I had never before met in my life  talking about him I came to realize how many lives he had touched.

While I would do anything to get him back, the truth is I know I cannot. And I know that I have to continue to live my life in a constructive way and as a good person. My dad will always be with me.  He’s always part of me, not just my DNA, which counts, but as role model. And he will always be my father. And my mother, strong and supportive, will always be my mother. And my siblings will always be my supportive siblings.  But the most important thing, I think, is that I am strong for myself, inside and in what I do in life.  So, I can always be a support for them.

Look at me, I think you see me differently now.  You still see me for what I’ve lost… but even more importantly for what I’ve gained.  

3 thoughts on “Lost and Gained”

  1. My dad passed away 5 months ago, and it’s been really hard for me. Knowing that there is a girl just like me going through the same thing and feeling the same emotions makes me feel much better. When you said “Losing a parent is unexplainable, it is like you are missing part of your heart and a part of yourself and you gain a label.” That hit very deeply. I stayed home for 2 weeks after everything happened, and I was also the girl who’s dad passed away. It was hard because I knew all eyes were on me and the day I came back was an award assembly, in events like this (or just in general) I don’t usually like being the center of attention and I knew I was. Everyone looked at me as if I were a sad puppy or they treated me much nicer than they normally would. People I haven’t even talked to in years came up to me, and most of them said “I’m always here for you, it is going to be okay.” I know they mean well, but why would they say they would “always” be there for me and it is “going to be okay.” when it’s not? As my mom says it, it’s going to be “different.” I know time heals but I wish it could go faster so I could feel less pain, but I have to deal with my grief even though it’s the worst thing I have ever been through in my life. It’s now summer and I thought I would feel better, although it has taken a lot of stress off me I still carry around a darkness I feel because of my dads death. I know it will stay with me, but it will slowly become smaller just with time. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and your advice, it helps me knowing that someone is going through the same thing I am.

    1. Hi Chloe,
      This is Amelie. It means so much to me that my article helped you. Parent loss is something no one should ever have to go through, especially as a teen. We are currently in the process of updating our site with more resources. We also have created a SLAPD Stories Instagram account dedicated to sharing the stories of teens who have lost a parent. Check us out @SLAPDStories. If you are interested in sharing your story, we would love to share it. Please DM us if interested. We are here if you need anything.

  2. Hi I just found out about this site and I was just reading this article and it helped me tremendously. I lost my dad 3 months ago on my last day of sophomore year in high school and it has truly been a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s hard for me now to focus in school and I can feel people looking at me different but trying to act like everything is ok. It’s hard for me to accept sometimes that he is gone. Cause it happened so sudden and out of the blue. I miss him so much and now my mother is also a single mom and I see her struggle at times. Especially right after he died she had to deal with all this paper work and things like that. It’s definitely put a strain in our life’s one reason being he was the one that worked in my family my mother doesn’t work so it’s been a struggle coming to terms in these past three months what our life will now be like. He was the one person that truly believed in me 100% and I could always tell him everything. It’s now sadly hurts, that at times I can’t picture him or memories I have with him.

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