A Note To The Teenagers Who Lost Their Parents

Dear griever,

Everyone knows the pandemic has been hard for a multitude of reasons. We’ve read news reports and accounts of how you missed milestones such as the prom or walking at graduation. I’m sorry for those losses. But I want to talk to the teenagers who lost their parent(s) during this pandemic because this grief will change you forever.

You’re not going to age the same way your peers are.

You will grow up in ways you didn’t ask to before you’re ready. Know that it’s okay to crave your inner child and want comfort. Sometimes that pull to be heard will make you angry because no one will ever be them. As best, you can, try to remember if you have a second parent left that they are painfully aware of how much they are not that other person for you. They don’t know what to do, but you can be sure they’ll make mistakes trying to figure it out.

That doesn’t make you responsible for their healing, but it might help you to see how much of a fragile squishy human they are. It doesn’t matter if they were separated, divorced, or no longer in love. It’s still a loss, and they may be oddly jealous of the openness with which you can display your distress.

Death and grief are strange beasts

I hope you let yourself be a little impulsive and do something you might not otherwise do. Try to be safe and realize hurting yourself won’t lessen the pain, quell the numbness or make anything different. It will be a momentary difference in your situation, but you already know it won’t last or change anything.

Personally, I preferred dying my hair in unnatural colors and seeing how many piercings I could afford to fit into my face. That is in no way to say that piercings or body modification are a reaction to trauma, but a recognition that it can be healing.

What you don’t know is the septum ring, blue hair, and microdermals that came later. We all cope.

Give yourself permission

I hope you will let yourself feel the numbness that losing the foundation that a parent is. There is no right way to react or respond, but that doesn’t make you feel any less wrong for every approach that feels right for you.

You aren’t given much credit, people have a hard time seeing the insight you already have. They’re going to repeat the same comforts to you that will allow them to feel both like they have done their social job while also remaining distant from a pain they’re afraid to feel.

The space people hold between you and the tragedy they don’t want to understand will give you a look into a deeper level of compassion. You will know what it’s like to be told you are being held close while feeling suspended by these arms-length embraces.

Brush it away if you want

You don’t have to become a better, deeper person or find the good in a bad situation. You are allowed to react how you feel makes the most sense, even if it makes other people uncomfortable. That is if you have the misfortune of living in a culture that refuses to embrace expiration.

But you also don’t have to white-knuckle your bitterness and anger. Even if you let them go, I’m pretty sure they won’t be hard to pick back up if you miss their ability to make you immediately feel something. Losing a parent when you weren’t expecting changes some of the foundation you stand on.

I want you to know it’s also okay to feel more than you ever did before. I found a painful level of empathy and humanity in the silence where I kept that loss. It was mine to hold on to because airing that reality opened me up to my ability to connect with those who know pain on a level I wasn’t ready for.

Now, I couldn’t be more grateful for feeling more than I was ready for. I say that while recognizing that is not how I felt at that time. I felt angry and lost. I wanted to know why I wasn’t consulted on his decision to be done with everything this life involved, including me.

Funny how some pictures grow in power over time.

This was originally posted on beccaschimmel.medium.com

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