Losing a Parent Whilst in Your 20s

Myself and my three siblings are all in our twenties and we lost our gorgeous Mum on the 31st of January very suddenly and unexpectedly. Mum suffered a very sudden brain aneurysm. She was only 55, active and healthy. I am heartbroken for my Grandma (Mum’s Mum), my two uncles (Mum’s brothers), my beloved Dad (Mum’s husband) and my siblings. She was our Mum but she was also a best friend to all of us.

I haven’t stopped crying since we lost her, sleep is fleeting at night but eating up the days. Motivation is at an all time low. I feel so lost. I don’t know what matters to me anymore, I don’t feel like I know where I stand and who I am without Mum. I don’t know how to exist in a world where Mum doesn’t, and sometimes I don’t want to.

Any advice with grieving is welcome - as well as ways to remember loved ones.

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Dear zg215,

Losing your mum at any age is an enormous loss, but probably even more so when, like you and your siblings, you are only in your twenties. You expect your mum to be there forever, and it must be so hard to now have to live without her especially because her death was so sudden and unexpected. I hope that you and your family are able to support each other and despite lockdown, spend time together. It is early days for you and all the feelings you describe are totally normal. They are all part of grief.

Most people who come to this site are older than you, and maybe that is the reason why you have not yet had any replies to your post. People tend to respond to those who are in a situation similar to their own. I have seen posts on here from young people so I do hope that some of them will reply to you.

It may be helpful for you to have a look at this guide that was written especially for young adults:

Sending a big virtual hug your way at this difficult time.
Jo

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Hi zg215,

I’m sorry for your loss.

I also lost my mum to a sudden brain haemorrhage 21 months ago and have exactly the same feelings as you.

I was 48 when I lost mum but I was 27 when my dad died from a sudden heart attack aged 53.

So I have lost a parent in my 20s too.

Having lost both parents suddenly and unexpectedly I do understand. My mum was also my best friend and I too dont know how I’m existing without her.

Life is very unfair.

All I can advise is that you take life day by day. Eventually small chinks of light do come through.

Life will never be the same and I cant pretend otherwise but i promise you will start to enjoy things in life again, but in a different way.

Cheryl x

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Hi Cheryl,

Thanks so much for your response - it means so much as I feel like a lost cause. I’m so sorry that we’ve had to meet this way, the sudden loss of a loved one is devastating. I’m sorry that you lost your Mum recently and your Dad in your twenties, now that I have lost someone close to me I truly believe that we are never ready for it. I was and still am so unprepared for this grief that I am experiencing - I literally feel like a rug has been pulled out from beneath my feet.

I will hold on to the hope that the enjoyment will gradually come back, even if it is different to before.
Thinking of you.
Zoe

Hi Zoe

I dont think it matters how old you are when you lose your mum…its such an awful thing to deal with.

As much as I miss my dad, the loss of my mum has hit me very hard. I know I will never be the same person but I have come to realise that my partner and daughter are here and need me.

Just as your loved ones are. No one warns us of how devastating losing your mum is especially when they die so young.

Keep talking on this group. I’m sure others will come along while are also in their twenties.

Thinking of you.

Cheryl x

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Hi Zoe,

Im 27 and lost my Dad a year ago from cancer.

Although somewhat expected, his passing has had a massive effect on my mental heath. I completely relate to the feeling that life is not worth it anymore.
Im scared I will keep loosing the people im close to.

What I find helps is thinking what they’d want. However at the same time I remind myself not to put pressure on myself to be ‘perfect’.
Dont be motivated. Be angry, be sad.
Talk to your siblings about it - this really helps because you find they might be feeling the same.

Personally I think loosing a parent at our age can be so unsettling because at our age we still rely on them. I found having them there was a great comfort when building your own life and making stupid mistakes.

Sarah

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Hi Zoe,

I’m so sorry to hear about your mum. I lost my dad to a very sudden heart attack last year. I’m in my early 30s so not quite as youthful (physically at least!) but still, I can imagine some of the things that might be going through your head.

You know, one of the first things my mum said to me at the time was that he wouldn’t get to walk me down the aisle and I felt abruptly guilty that I hadn’t happened to find the perfect partner yet. I hadn’t even been thinking of that yet but I think particularly when it’s unexpected or you’re a bit younger than most when it happens, you get reminded of all the big life stuff that person is going to miss. You get waves of it at the most unexpected times. When you get a wave though, it’s helpful to come here! Sometimes to read, sometimes to post. Either way it makes you feel less alone in all you’re going through. Although grief is unique for every person there’s also something that we all share here that many others in our lives won’t understand. That gets me through the day sometimes. Just not feeling alone!

My advice for you is not to shy away from pictures of your mum. I got that advice at the time and I’m grateful for it. My siblings and I made a Google share drive and each of us keep uploading any pictures and videos of dad we find to it. We also regularly check it and sometimes just listen to his voice or look through pictures of his smiley face. It took mum longer to take a look through but I understand that, it’s different again when it’s a partner.

It hurts, a lot, when I do it. I cry as much as I laugh but it makes him feel present in a way my memory just can’t serve sometimes. Then I talk to him and tell him about what’s been happening lately.

My second piece of advice is not to expect life to be the same. It can’t ever be, after a trauma like that. That doesn’t mean that you’ll feel this intensely and constantly forever though. Gradually you find a new normal, a way to live with it rather than getting over it. And that’s perfectly OK.

You’ll find your own ways of comforting yourself and your family I’m sure but remember this place is always here, whether it’s been a day or a year. Come back and share whatever is on your mind whenever you need to.

Nikki

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Nikki - this message means so much to me, thanks for taking the time to write such a meaningful and helpful message. Whilst I’m crying reading it, I definitely needed the reminder that we aren’t alone in feeling this way, as isolating as it feels at times.

I think I’ve been knocked hugely after it being Easter Sunday yesterday, a day that she’d be hosting with my Dad and spending time with myself and my siblings. I guess it’s the first family orientated occasion that I’ve experienced since we lost her, whilst they day was lovely with my family - today I’m missing her quite intensely. Luckily none of us are shying away from referencing memories and are constantly mentioning Mum when we see each other.

Right now it feels impossible to think of myself living a content life without her physically here, so it’s really important to hear from people like yourself who can shed a bit of light on the situation, with lived experience and hindsight.

I’m now thinking of you, your Mum, and of course your Dad - sending virtual love.

Zoe

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Hi Zoe,

I am truly so sorry for your loss. I found your post because I’m 23 and I lost my Dad at the start of February, he had just turned 61 in January. He died of cancer, so it was not sudden, but I did lose my step-father unexpectantly in a house fire when I was 14, so I can empathise with the pain of a sudden and traumatic loss of a loved one, similar to what you may be experiencing now.

My Dad didn’t have any close family other than my Granny (his Mum), my sister and I. Him and my Granny had such a close bond, it has been so heart-breaking to watch her lose her first child, her boy. My parents have been divorced for a long time, my sister and Mum are very close whereas I was always closer with my Dad. He truly was a best friend to me. He was so quiet, gentle and loving and I felt we just understood each other without ever having to say a word.

I’m also currently in a phase where I just can’t stop crying. Even though for the first 8 weeks I felt pretty stable, in the past few days I’ve just been so overwhelmed by sadness. I’ll hear his laugh in my mind or think of calling him to check on him and I just get hit by another wave of this crushing grief.

It can be so easy to wonder what the point of it all is, question why it’s so unbearably unfair that others get to keep their parent well into their old age but we had to lose ours so soon. I am so angry and sad that my Dad won’t ever walk me down the aisle at my wedding, won’t ever see me achieve the goals he encouraged me to pursue, won’t get to be a grandad to any children I may have.

I know right know it may feel so hard to keep your head above water and see past the pain.

(There is something that comes to mind that I think I learned from watching Fleabag, (if you haven’t seen it) a BBC show about a girl who struggles with grief after losing her Mum and then, later, her best friend. I would absolutely recommend watching it if/when you feel up to it).
When I feel the deep deep sadness, I remember that this grief I’m experiencing is in fact love. It is the huge, unconditional, incomparable love that you felt for that person, There is so much of it! And when they were here you were able to give it to them. Now that they are gone, it has nowhere to go and it swells up inside you and feels really heavy and sad. Think just how much love you must have inside of you for it to turn into such deep sadness…SO MUCH LOVE. And that is something I am so thankful for, to have been given so much love, I am so lucky. And that love will never go away.
One day when the pain starts to ease (and I promise you it will), you can keep passing on that love, to your Dad, Granny, siblings, friends, anyone, everyone. That love is such an incredible legacy for your Mum to have left behind.

Having read the comments, I can also totally agree with what @Sarah12 said. While feeling lost, it can help to think of what your Mum would want. Don’t feel any pressure to fulfil specific criteria, but maybe just think of what your Mum would really say or do in certain situations, I’m sure you and your siblings can help each other with that. My sister and I have often began crying while thinking of Dad, then one of us will mention something funny or silly Dad would have said and we will just erupt into laughter. Laughter, even in the darkest of times, can be so healing, never stop laughing.

Sending you the biggest hug, you are not alone, you are loved, you will one day look back at this time and be so proud of yourself for making it through.

Xuxa
x

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Hi Zoe,

I am 28 and I lost my dad to COVID in January, my two brothers are also in their twenties. I am so sorry about your mum.

For me, the immediate days/weeks were horrible but also so consumed with all the awful ‘stuff’ to deal with, e.g. finances/sorting the funeral etc. Now it has been 3 months, which is hard to believe, and I just feel so sad, I really just want to pick up the phone and call him. It is up and down and tiring. I hope you have good friends and support around you.
Thoughts with you and others on this thread.

Hey Sarah,

I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. I completely echo everything you’ve said about letting yourself feel these things, letting it out is my default - I can’t suppress it even if I wanted to. Talking to my siblings helps me but I’m always the one that starts crying my eyes out, even though I love talking about her. I am totally heartbroken for all the things she will miss too, very much in the thick of it so the future isn’t really getting much thought at the moment.

I hope you’ve found even a tiny little bit of peace over the last year.

Thanks, Zoe

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Xuxa, all I can say is wow! This message blew me away, and of course made my sob like mad. Thank you so much for your advice, firstly I am so sorry to hear about your Dad and whilst it is extremely unfortunate that we’ve had to meet this way - I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to talk to you.

I have seen Fleabag so it really resonated with me. I think that is partly what is so heartbreaking though, that if only love was enough… It is SO hard, like you say to not compare yourself to others and think about why others get a lifetime with their parents and why we don’t. It does really seem so unfair on the loved one we’ve lost, that they are going to miss out on so many memories. I can’t even think about her not being able to be a Grandma or be at our weddings, it cuts me so so deep as there was nothing more that she wanted in life than was to see us happy. I’m still in shock I think and I don’t know how to ease the passing of the shock, or if it just takes time.

I couldn’t agree more, whilst it can hurt - laughter is so magical. I hosted my Dad and siblings in the garden for Easter and she naturally constantly comes up in conversation all of the time which is so lovely, but as Mum was the core of our family I just felt this gut-wrenching sadness all day. It is so bittersweet as I am so grateful for having other family members to go through this with but it doesn’t retract from the intense and sometimes crippling pain. Your words have honestly really touched me, I will definitely refer back to this conversation when I’m struggling.

Thanks, Zoe

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Sabreese, I am so sorry that you are experiencing loss at such a young age too. I couldn’t agree more, the immediate days and to be honest the past couple of months have been so shit as there is so much to deal with after someone passes away. I cannot even fathom that my Mum will have been gone three months at the end of this month, it feels like forever but also like yesterday.

I don’t think I was aware of how truly draining grief would be, like you said it is so tiring. I completely agree, I would love to pick up the phone and have one of our hour long phone calls right now to chat about everything and anything.

You may feel the same as me here but I feel so heartbroken for my brothers too, whilst I’m 27 and my sister is 29, they are only 23 and 25 which seems menial but when I was 23 I was such a baby really. And being male I just worry that they won’t process the grief and let themselves feel it, which is also how I feel about my Dad.

It’s all so messy and difficult but hearing from you have reinforced that I really am not alone. Thinking of you.

Thanks, Zoe

Hi Zoe,

I completely agree with everything you are saying…I feel awful for my brothers too, particularly as they are only in their early twenties. It seems even crueller, in a strange way, as I had ‘more time’.

I also am struggling with motivation and sleep. Not helpful to you, but just to say I know what you mean. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk to people, as it’s too much effort.

I feel for everyone in this situation.

Particularly I echo @Sarah12 POV on relying on a parent still at this age. I have so many questions I want to ask my dad. Also echoing @Xuxa post - I was ‘fairly stable’ for the first 8 weeks or so but now struggling to not keep bursting into tears as it hits fresh every time.

I imagine it is also (perhaps) especially hard to accept given the suddenness of your mum’s aneurysm. For us, we thought dad would be in hospital ‘for a day or so’ as he was only 60 and very fit, etc. Everything changed so fast and every morning it’s a fresh blow to remember he died. There was no real time to even begin to acknowledge he might not get out. I know you can’t prepare for this but the shock factor was also huge

Hi @zg215

How you feel completely resonates with me.

I lost my mum to a rare and sudden form of soft tissue cancer 8 months ago when I was 22. She died within only a few days of us knowing that she even had cancer.

I now feel like I relive it all everyday. I have started to lack motivation which I feel has started to affect me in my work and I just feel so deflated and in pain that I just sometimes feel like I’m not even present.

I am so lost.

I’ve just enquired about some bereavement counselling as the only other person I would talk to apart from my partner would have been her and I honestly wish I could.

However my partner is the light of my life and keeps me afloat so I try to remain focused on the positives.

I hope things are getting much better for you,

Kelly.

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Hi Kelly,

Thanks for your lovely message - whilst I wouldn’t wish this grief on anyone, it’s reassuring to hear someone else that echoes how I feel. I am genuinely so sorry to hear about your Mum, it seems we’ve had similarly devastating experiences. One minute they were here lighting up the world, the next they are gone and everything feels dark. It doesn’t get any more heartbreaking.

The feeling of being lost is so numbing. We know full well that our loved ones would want us to find happiness again but it’s near impossible when your best friend, the person you’d always default to isn’t here to talk to anymore. Like you, I am looking into counselling as no matter how much I see and talk to my siblings or partner I really need a professional to help unpick some of this.

I am so grateful that I have my other family members, family has always been my number one priority and that remains unchanged, if not even more important! I’ve taken on Mum’s dog too so I feel like I have a part of her with me which breaks me but also feels healing.

There are so many positives left in my life, it’s just going to take some time for me to let myself appreciate them.

Thinking of you Kelly.

Thanks, Zoe

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