(Story shared by male, 25, Washington DC)
I was in between my freshman and sophomore year of college when my dad passed away, I was 18. I was very fortunate to be home with my family when it happened. I can still remember getting the phone call from my mom at home, and then crying hysterically by myself for 5 or 10 minutes, but then straightening out as my mom was on the way back from the hospital. I believe those 10 minutes have been the only time I’ve cried about the passing of my father. Its not that it doesn’t sadden me, but being the only son, I felt I had to be “the man” of the family.
My mother broke down consistently for the next year, and those are the hardest times for me. But this situation had to be so much harder for her, so I never felt like I had it bad, because really everyone’s father dies, but not everyone loses their spouse this early. When we were reorganizing the house the next summer and moving a lot of his stuff out, I had to consistently console my mom as she would break down into tears. Many times I wanted to cry too, but I kept telling myself I had to be strong for her.
So to lose some I love, I guess my state of mind is that its much harder to lose a spouse than a parent, because nobody deserves to lose a spouse after 20 years of marriage and finally seeing your family completely raised. My mother’s children had grown up, she only had my father left. So to lose all your kids and then your husband, the last family member you really have left (by “left” I mean living at home and always being with one another), really is a lot tougher than any other loss. All I can do is try to fill that void as much as possible. That probably leads me to not talk about it as much and brush off the idea that I should be pitied, but really, nobody has it harder than my mom in this situation.
Friends can be your support group when outside of your family. I was trying to be “the man” around my family after my father passed, so around my friends this responsibility isn’t as pressing, so they allow you to actually be you, and give you an outlet to get away. Its almost as if the last thing I wanted to do was talk about my father with my friends, because it was hanging over my head whenever I’m with my family.