Losing My Parents: Jessi’s Story

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In this series of real user stories, we’re bringing together a bunch of people from different backgrounds to share their most intimate experience dealing with the loss of a loved one. We hope that by reading all of their stories, you’ll understand that everyone grieves differently and everyone’s journey is just as valid.

If you would like to submit your own story, please do so here. Today’s story is shared by Jessi who sadly lost both of her parents back to back in 2015. This is her story.

What happened to them?

My mum died after suffering a stroke for over 20 years while my dad passed away soon after due to bell’s palsy and parotid cancer. On one hand, my mum’s death didn’t come as a huge surprise due to her battles with various medical conditions but I felt that my dad’s demise happened too suddenly. He only lived for a few months after receiving his diagnosis.

How involved were you with the dealing of their death?

In contrast to my mum’s passing, we were more prepared to deal with my dad’s final days with us. We also relied heavily on our spiritual beliefs throughout that time, my sisters and I would take turns chanting prayers for him and reminding him to focus on the positive impacts that he has made on so many lives.

Dealing with my dad’s funeral arrangements itself was less chaotic than my mum’s because by then we already had an idea of what we needed to do and have already secured a final resting spot for him where he’ll be laid to rest beside my mum.

The memorial park where Jessi laid her parents to rest.

What was the most difficult part of losing them?

Watching as each member of my family lining up at the hospital to thank my mum for everything that she has done for us and asking for her forgiveness for all of our wrongdoings was probably one of the saddest moments in my life. That and her saying goodbye to us while waving her hand was incredibly hard for me.

Growing up, my dad has always loved me unconditionally and trusted me in everything that I do. So on the day, he took his last breath, I felt like I’ve lost the dearest person in my life. I knew then and there that there’ll never be a replacement for someone like him in my life ever again.

Do you remember your last encounter with them, what was it like?

Towards the end of his life, my dad struggled with the pain that the cancer was causing him and it was really painful to see him go through that. Moments before he passed, his body looked very tensed and he was in a curled position but when we finally saw his body relaxed and his face turned calm, I knew that he was gone forever.

Immediately I went over to the kitchen and broke down in tears. Although I was extremely sad to watch as my dad died, I was grateful that we all had the opportunity to thank him for bringing us up and caring for our needs over the years.

How did you cope with your own feelings?

My religious teachings have always taught me that life is impermanent and that death is inevitable for everyone. Armed with that knowledge, I’ve come to accept the concept of ageing and dying. I reminded myself that our bodies are merely vessels that we occupy in this life, there’ll come a day when these vessels will expire and we’ll have to leave it behind when the time comes.

If they could hear you now, what would you say to them?

If my parents can hear me now, I would like to wish them both happiness and peace wherever they may be. I take comfort in the fact that both of my parents’ sufferings were not prolonged which would have not only hurt them physically but would’ve very likely negatively impacted them mentally as well. Although I’m still devastated, I want them to know that I’m learning to let them go.

What is your favourite memory of them?

I think a lot about my younger days when I would buy Char Koay Teow with my own pocket money and then sharing that with my mum while she was busy sewing clothes for us. I also remember the time when my mum offered me very important advice on my wedding day, she told me to treat my in-laws as though they are my parents. That advice has helped me navigate life after marriage and I’ll always treasure those memories.

As for my dad, I’ll never forget the time when I hugged him for the first time after receiving the news of his diagnosis. Growing up in a more reserved Asian household, that big hug was a huge deal for both of us and I’ll never forget that moment.

Jessi and her dad at his last birthday celebration with the family.

How do you feel now, are you still struggling?

Fortunately, I find that I’m able to cope relatively well with my emotions after losing both of my parents. I credit this entirely to my religious teachings which have taught me to accept that death is a very natural part of life.

What advice would you offer someone who is grieving?

I would like to advise anyone who has lost someone they love to not allow their grief to dictate their life. Although these are some of the toughest moments in our lives, I’m sure that our loved ones would want to see us move forward.

But most importantly, remember to appreciate your loved ones and spend meaningful time with them while they’re still with us. Never neglect them when they need you most and lastly learn to forgive the people we love no matter what has happened in the past because when their lives end, there’s no way for us to get them back again.

“Hold dear to your parents for it is a scary and confusing world without them.” – Emily Dickinson


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