The number of high school students who will lose a parent before graduating High School is one out of every eighteen students. That is a lot of kids who experience loss at a young age. It’s hard to know which kids have lost a parent if they don’t say so. You could be sitting next to the jock on the football team or your best friend in class, and they could be experiencing grief. There are steps of grieving and everyone handles them differently. I am 1 out of 18 that lost not only one but both parents befrore graduating. The Caring Place has helped me cope with my losses. I hope anyone reading this article and going through a loss gets something from this.
What brought me to the Caring Place? I came to the Caring Place because of the death of both my parents. The number of high school students who will lose a parent upon graduating high school is 1 out of every 18 students. I just happened to be that number one twice. My mom lost her battle with breast cancer after fighting for 7 hard years. My mother passed away June 21, 2007. My father passed away August 24, 2008. My father died after spending 14 years in a nursing home. He had been in a bad car wreck leaving him with brain injuries.
As my mom began to get sicker she never once gave up her courage, faith, or her religion. She taught me what courage really was head on. My mom had to raise three kids on her own due to my father’s car accident. Dad couldn’t live at home any longer, so he went to live in a nursing home. No matter how sick she was feeling mom always made sure we always had what we needed. I remember on her last birthday in life; my mom got up in front of the family using her cane and danced to “My Sexy Back”. She didn’t let her cane stop her, after that we called her dance, her "boogie".
If you knew my mom you would know that next to her children and family Wendy’s chicken nuggets with honey mustard sauce was her favorite. She would have the family sneak them into the hospital for her. My mom also loved angels very much. Growing up, our house was full of angels. Some people often wonder how my mom could have so much faith, because of what my family had gone through with my dad. I have no clue how my mom had that much faith. However her faith rubbed off on me and I am glad it did. To keep my mom’s memory alive, we named my dog Angel Hope. Angel - because, my mom is my special angel and she loved them. Hope because of the breast cancer she dealt with and for the pink ribbon you see that represents the hope of dealing with the breast cancer.
As I think back that 1 out of every 18 high school students will lose a parent before graduating high school. I feel that number one happened to me twice. I call that number one - bad one. I have to be honest, all my memories of my father are of when he was in the nursing home. I was 14 months old when the wreck happened. So to me I never got to know my dad before the wreck like how my sister and brother did. I can say I taught him how to sign I Love You and I taught him how to play thumb war. When dad could tell I was getting upset he would rub his thumb into my hand until I would play it with him. I will never forget how he would squeeze my hand. A warm feeling came over me when he would do that. I honestly have to say I miss him and my mom. As I am in my senior year it’s hitting me that I don’t have them and that is a bitter sweet thing right now for me to deal with. Yeah I have my sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins but not my parents so that really is going to be a hard time. I plan on doing something the morning of graduation in honor of them before I graduate that night.
Going back to what brought me to the Caring Place. It was the death of my mother then my father. I first started coming to the Caring Place in the fall of 2007. When my Aunt Chris first told me that we were coming to the Caring Place, I felt like I was too old for something like the Caring Place. My Aunt Chris said she wanted me to talk to kids my age that were going through the same thing as me. I guess you could say I was nervous about starting the group sessions. I had no clue what to think. I went to the 10 week session which is where I made a quilt square in honor of my mom. It is hanging in the game room. After the 10 weeks we took a break and went back in the spring. As that session came to an end I felt like maybe I was ready for a break from the Caring Place. However, in the summer of 08’, my father had passed away. I needed to go back. Since my dad lived in the nursing home and my mom had passed away, my Aunt Chris had taken me and my older siblings in under her roof. I asked her if we could go back. And I started in the fall for 8 weeks. I am sad to say my father does not have a quilt square hanging in the building. I was going to make it for him. I honestly couldn’t handle it and we gave the square back to the staff at the Caring Place.
At first when I came to the Caring Place, I didn’t know anyone except for my Aunt Chris. That all changed by the time I left the Caring Place after coming to the sessions for four times. I made really good friends here. Friends that understood me when I was upset and they knew how it felt to be missing a loved one. The thing here about the Caring Place is there is no DRAMA. Everyone that comes here is hurting by missing a loved one that has died. The staff are very well trained to deal with each type of death and the grieving family members that walk through the doors to seek the help that the Caring Place has to offer.
After going through the group sessions, I truly understood what trust meant. If you talked to your group about something, it never left the room at all. During dinner, the staff and volunteers would make their way around to almost every family and talk to them for a few minutes. That meant a lot to me knowing that they cared enough to know how the families were really doing.
The kinds of feelings I had when my parents both died were numbness, sadness, loneliness, pain, and a broken heart. For awhile I wouldn’t even look at pictures of my mom because I would cry at the site of her pictures. However with my dad passing I needed pictures. I only knew him from when he got in his wreck. So all my memories of my dad and I were in the nursing home. As I begin to get older it’s hitting me that the huge milestones in my life like graduation, marriage, and the birth of children I won’t have my parents.
I honestly have to say what was helpful about being in a group session with other kids my age was; they all understood how I was really feeling. The kids at school really don’t know what to say unless they’ve been through the grief and the death of a loved one. The kids in group were all dealing with the grief and they could understand and relate to how I was feeling. Friends at school sometimes were, and still are, at a loss for words and to this day, they still say things sometimes that upset me.
When someone dies it is important for the children to come to the Caring Place. It is so important because they need to learn how to handle their feelings. The kids also need to know they are not alone and aren’t the only ones who have suffered the death of a loved one. The Caring Place helps the kids as well the adults to cope with their feelings. That is why it is extremely important to come here after someone has died.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Submitted by: Mrs. Carrie Mason
This article really touched me. Rebecca was a student of mine back in 9th grade and I am glad to still get to see her. She is a very special young lady and I am so very happy that the Caring Place has been able to help her in so many ways. It's wonderful that the Caring Place is there to help all of the grieving children. Wonderful article!