Finding success after the loss of a parent


Edvard Munch, The dead mother and chiild [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The last year in high school is supposed to be an exciting time for graduating seniors. My senior year was a little different than some. My senior year my mom was dying from cancer and eventually passed away 11 days after my graduation.

According to the Journal of Death and Dying 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18.

I remember very vividly when my mother died. My sister and I were sitting in the living room while our father was in the room with her. He came rushing out the room and told us our mom had died. My sister and I rushed in to confirm with our eyes.

I did something really strange. We had this machine that our aunt had brought that would take the pulse. I took her pulse four times until I realized she was gone.

Two months after her death I was headed to college.

Growing up, our mom had always said to us that we would go to college. That was her dream, she didn’t get to see it.

After I lost my mom at 18 I became someone I didn’t recognize. My freshman year in college I went to Texas Tech. I was five hours away from home by myself. I met people in my dorm who were from El Paso too.

We would go to parties and clubs and I found myself binge drinking. In fact, I blacked out twice from how much I drank.

I had gotten a job to help me pay for my expenses. After going out one Saturday I failed to show up to work the next day because I was still drunk. I only lasted 3 months there.

According to children who lose a parent to cancer “may act out in anger at family members or show impulsive or reckless behaviors, such as substance use, fighting in school, and sexual promiscuity.”

Throughout that year I suppressed any emotion that I felt. I was angry at the world, I was sad, frustrated and the only way I dealt with that was drinking.

I left Texas Tech after one year and transferred to UTEP.

This summer I graduated from college. It took me 5 years to do so but I think it’s still a great achievement. My sister graduated from college in 2014 and is now a middle school teacher.

NPR wrote a story in 2013 about successful children who lost a parent. Some of the names in that story include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, President George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Barack Obama and many more.

I don’t intend to compare myself to a president or a Supreme Court Justice. I’m only 23 years old I have a lot of life to left to live. Graduating from college is a great achievement that I am very proud of.

My advice to anyone who might read this and can relate in any way is talk to your friends and family and never ever give up.

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