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growing up an adult orphan


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It feels weird every time I see it, read it, or write it: adult orphan. 

I never met my father before he passed away when I was 11, and shortly after my mother began her battle with cancer. I was a youth care taker most of my teenage years and had the privilege of holding my mother as she took her last breath when I was 18 in 2016. Two weeks before she passed, I had an emergency surgery and was lucky to be able to leave the operation room alive. My first two weeks at a new life were her last two weeks with hers. We took care of each other. At the time, I was battling an opiate and alcohol addiction, being clear minded never came to be able to understand my emotions let alone cope with them. 

I've conquered so much to finally have my chance at healing. I've been opiate free/sober since November 2016, I went back to college, I moved back to where I had to relocate from suddenly, I've done everything alone. Maybe that's why I haven't grieved yet, I've been alone. 

Now that the shock has worn off and I have been seeking mental health treatment, I've realized I never started to grieve. I ignored it. I completely ignored my emotions as a survival tactic. But this is where I need advice:

I've accepted my past but I've noticed thoughts of the future make me break down. I think of graduating college and not having anyone in the parent's seat, it makes me want to not complete my school work even though all I want is my education. 

I retrogress in an unhealthy way:

I'm an adult who wants to have experiences I missed out on between the ages of 13-21. My stability in everyday life from working, going to school and having relationships has been effected. 

I feel like I'm grieving the loss of my parents, as well as the loss of someone I'll never get to be/experience. 

As I grow up, I notice the loss hits a different way than it did in the beginning. I feel stuck in time as I watch life around me continue. 

My 24th birthday is next month, my 6th birthday without parents. My only wish is for people to tell me "I'm proud of you." instead of the iconic "I'm sorry.". Maybe then, being labeled an adult orphan wouldn't translate so pitifully. 

"I stand strong as the ground beneath me is breaking,

with my head held high, even if my knees are shaking."

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I am also an adult orphan but I am in my early 40s. I cannot imagine going through what you have been through at the age of 18 and thus becoming an adult orphan at such a young age. Such a time of growth and development and finding out who you are as a person.

I try to move forward knowing my parents would want me to continue to live my life to the fullest and follow my dreams. Somewhere out there, your Mum is very proud of you. 

Be kind to yourself. 

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These posts are amazing. I lost my parents to a drunk driver when I was 18 and I am now 40 and I've never heard from other adult orphans. I feel stunted in growth, as though I'm stuck at 18 in some ways. I became an alcoholic and drug addict to numb my grief but joined AA and have been sober for 7 years. Grief is so weird. One time, I was looking for my birth certificate and couldn't find it. I had a minor meltdown thinking that there was no proof that I had been born without anyone to claim me as their kid. I feel as though several chapters of My Life Book have been ripped out and I'm constantly searching for them to become a complete adult. I'm very grateful to have found this forum and just want everyone going through grief to be proud of every day you get through.

I graduated college a year after my parents died and did not go to the graduation ceremony because I know I would have been looking for my parents. I was pretty numb still and it was the right thing to do at the time, but looking back, I had a lot of family and friends to support me who would have been there and I think it would have been very special and in a way, healing. I didn't want to do it cuz I knew it was going to hurt but I missed out on the opportunity to celebrate the work I had done to get a degree.

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Dear MsFord,

(((hugs))) I'm so proud of you! 

It's tremendously hard to be an adult orphan. I know how much I long to have my dad with me and that I could be one of those people that had my parents till I was 70. So many things we still want to share with them and need their guidance for.

Please remember you're doing the best you can every day.  It's all we can do.  We are our parents living legacy and we have do what we can each day to make them proud of us.

Thinking of you.

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