How do you cope with losing your Dad at 21?

I lost my Dad in October, and this week marks my 22nd birthday and my first without my Dad. He was a huge part of my life, we spoke everyday without fail and these last four months without hearing his voice have been the most painful.

My Dad died suddenly of a heart attack and I had to race home from University, but sadly I was too late to say goodbye. I have some many unanswered questions, so many stories I wanted to tell him and questions about life I never got to ask.

I’ve been up and down these last four months, but with my birthday coming up, it has set in that he will not be there to wish my a happy birthday, or later this year, see me graduate.

Although I had support at the beginning, it’s as if my friends have completely forgotten about me. My mum has her grief to deal with, and I almost resent the support she has had from her friends, because I have had so little from mine. It’s the loneliness and isolation that has been the worst.

It’s the thought that no one cares and that your grief is somewhat less, as this was going to happen eventually, I just wished it was not so soon and he could have seen me live more of my life before he left.

How have others been able to cope, especially when you are young and the death was sudden and unexpected?


Hi Jess. My Dad passed away in December after a short illness but I am 56 and I cannot imagine how hard it is for someone of your age. People do care but sometimes you need to reach out and seek a bit of help. Is there anyone in your student union as there is usually someone who would be able to support you. Do not be afraid to ask for some help. You also need to think of how proud your Dad would have been to see you graduate later this year and focus on that. I had a fantastic relationship with my Dad and was so lucky to have him in my life for so long. Remember your Dad is part of you and he will always be with you as will mine.

You take care and make your Dad so proud Lynne x

Hi Jess,

I lost my Dad in October too. I’m a bit older than you (29) and lost my Dad to cancer. It wasn’t sudden, and for that I am grateful, although he did suffer terribly for a long time.

Sorry to hear that you have a lack of support. To be honest, I felt so angry at my friends in the beginning. Although we’re not as close as we used to be I felt they “should” have been making more of an effort, all I got was lousy WhatsApp messages. Ironically the only person who called me was a guy who was more of an acquaintance. I got annoyed about them not even sending cards - I mean, how hard is it?! I have experienced a lot of anger in my journey so far (can you tell? haha).
The messages have certainly tailed off now too, but I don’t seem to care anymore.

I think people just get on with their own lives. I’m sure they still care, but I totally get where you’re coming from.

Is there some counselling support you can get? I have been having counselling since before my Dad died at a local hospice. She has been great.

I don’t really have any advice on how to cope, other than allow yourself to fully feel your emotions, don’t judge them, and be kind and gentle on yourself. Whatever you are feeling is okay.

I am shocked at the physical and emotional toll grief is having on me so far.

If you ever want to chat feel free to message me xxx

Hi Jess,

Really sorry to hear about your dad. I am 21 too and lost my dad in December 2017 so a similar situation to you however my dad passed from cancer which didn’t happen quickly.

I sometimes wonder if a unexpected death is easier than a prolonged death as you don’t get to see the suffering however it is a much bigger shock so I’ve never really come to a conclusion.

I have been supporting my step mum a lot which has made me lose focus on myself.
My family seem to now be coping a lot better than they were however as I’ve not focused on myself, I feel I’m going backwards. But it is still quite early days.

I don’t have an answer for you yet as I am still trying to figure it out. I notice when I speak about my dad more to my friends they will often ask more as they feel I’m comfortable to talk about him, this could possibly be a suggestion?

I have booked in for 1-1 counselling next week as I feel this will help me understand my grief and get better control on it. Maybe this is another suggestion for you also?

I hope things get easier for you soon. I can only suggest to take the time you need for yourself, do what you want to do and what makes you feel most comfortable.

Best wishes,

Hi Jess

I am 21 and in my final year of nursing at uni, my dad passed away last month on Valentine’s day. I know it’s still early bit I completely understand how you are feeling.

My dad died of a massive stroke very suddenly and I too have felt the loss of not being able to ask him advice and just have a chat with him.

It a heart wrenching to see my mum in pain and heart ache but I also understand your resentment, as I feel like my mum is leaning on me a lot and I don’t know if o am grieving properly because I’m so worried about being there for her.

It also saddens me massively that he won’t see me graduate, see me have children or walk me down the isle. A million things constantly run through my head…it makes it so hard to carry on with uni and trying to write my dissertation feels impossible atm.

Please please don’t hesitate to get into contact with me xxx

Love, Natalie xxxx

You can’t expect to feel anything other than the way you do at the present time as it’s still very early days . It will get easier as time goes by. My dad died suddenly when he was 47 and I was 17. I loved him very much , and I still do. I’m 58 now and will never , ever forget him . I still talk to him in the car , at home , sometimes just silently in my head and it helps a bit. I believe in a life after this one and know I’ll see him again one day . That helps too. In the meantime , try to make the best of your life , for yourself and for him . Life is difficult, there’s no doubt about that , but while you’re here , you need to get the most out of it that you can . Paul

Hi Jess

Just wanted to send you a virtual hug. X

I lost my hero and my dad in May 17 so I do understand your pain. I think the key to getting help is asking for it. Posting here is a brilliant step and opening up to friends and family about how you feel is how I have gained a bit of strength.

Look for local counceling or bereavement groups and get on Amazon for books on grief. It has all helped me a bit but also remembering that your dad made you the person you are so will never leave you completely. If you still feel love for him, then that love is still real too.

Take care
Ann x

Hi ann
I am reading grief works by Julia Samuel which I’m finding really helpful. Can you recommend any other books?
Many thanks, Clarex

Thank you Ann.

I’ve spoken to a counsellor but it’s alsays scheduled when I am having a good day, and then I feel even worse on my down days as it’s then I really need someone to talk too. I will look at Amazon to see if there any books I fancy that may help.

Jess x

Thanks Paul, it’s nice to know that it does get easier, I gusss I am a little impatient. I hope my Dad is somewhere watching and looking out for me from wherever he is, and that seems to be helping. Jess

Hi Clare

I found “Life lessons” by kuber Ross helpful. I will get a copy of grief works on your recommendation too. Thanks:)

No-one gives you a manual on all this but reaching out and reading are definitely little help.

How has everyone been this week?

Ann x

Thankyou Anne, I have made note of that book and will put it on my list to read. You’re right, no Manuel to refer to…just trying to get through the day. I have found reading really helpful whether it’s listening to people on this site or a more clincal look at bereavement. Losing my mum has been so hard and i have children relying on me so I really do have to get up in the morning
and make myself function! But, when i look back 2 to 3 months ago and see what i wasn’t able to do compared to what I’m doing now, i know i have made steps in the right direction. I’ve been up and down this week, how about you? From Clare

Hi Clare and everyone

Snap. I have a 5 year old I need to keep it together for so just taking one day at a time is the only thing I can do.

Snap on the reading too. It seems to get my head a little but more straight and I can feel like I am not alone. Others have been through loss and grief and survived so that gives me hope.

I also know that our loved ones would want us to enjoy Life, maybe even on their behalf rather than feeling bad about the better days. The rubbish days are frequent but hopefully they will get less and less over time.

Sending a Friday hug out to everyone.

Ann x

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