What School Doesn’t Teach You: Coping with The Loss of Your Parent
In today’s Column, Febrina Anindita writes about facing grief as the only child and experiencing unexpected adulthood soon after.
Words by Whiteboard Journal
Grieving is something that everyone will experience at least once in a lifetime. That’s a definitive thing I recently realized.
I never thought I’d experience it this year. I haven’t even bothered to prepare myself for grieving. When my Dad died so suddenly due to a heart attack; as you can imagine, I was shocked. Not with the rush of grieving, but the realization that everything will change. A huge change will occur and I never thought of it before.
As the only child, of course now I only have my Mom as my family. When people came to send condolences, everything still felt warm. It felt overwhelming of course, since as a family we’re quite reserved, we rarely have guests come over to the house. I don’t know if it’s because our friends mostly live far from our home or any other reason. But as the condolences came and went, the grief came and stayed.
Grief is definitely very new to me. I’ve experienced (mild) depression twice, once when I was in college and another a couple years ago. Each episode had a different healing period and process. I was clueless for the first one, it took almost a year to recover without help from professionals back then. The second one felt easier as mental health became a common topic among my generation, so I realized my situation and sought help immediately from a professional. But grief feels like an alien that I can’t comprehend.
Growing up I wasn’t really close with my Dad, but I remember he was really protective up to a point where it made me become quite a rebel. I never thought about him back in the day, I just focused on chasing my freedom. I definitely took him for granted. We rarely talked, and just relied on togetherness. Even when the pandemic hit and I had to work from home since March, I believe the longest conversation with him was when I was angry at him. I was so angry because he didn’t think of his health and I felt that he didn’t try enough to fix our communication after all that I’ve tried in the past 2-3 years.
We never talked about our dreams, hopes or even our feelings. It made me feel somewhat cursed with the inability to communicate with my own family. That’s what hit me the most after he’s gone. I felt like I didn’t try hard enough. I feel like I failed as a child. Everything was too late and what’s left is only regret and grief.
As I live the days ahead I feel really messy. I can’t describe my feelings.
Am I sad? Anxious? Overthinking?
What exactly I’m worried about?
The communication that I have to fix and rebuild with my Mom?
My new role in the family?
So many things popped up in my head in a short time and I feel like I’ve just been thrown in a cold, vast open water even though I can’t swim.
Will I overcome the fear and learn how to swim in this ocean?
My train of thought always stops there and when I feel like I can’t find the answer or face the feelings, I reach out to my friends. I don’t know whether it’s an act to distract myself from my feelings or that’s how I cope with grief. As I write this, I still choose not to seek the answer to it.
And to be honest, I never thought I could write again. But here we are.
Now the questions remain: Will I heal from it? But how long will it take?