What It's Like to Lose a Parent in College


Everyone deals with death differently. What I am about to share is my personal experience with the passing of my father during my sophomore year of college. Some may find they can relate to me, and I hope you find comfort in knowing that you are not the only one. Here is my personal account of what it is like to lose a parent in college.


Not wanting to get out of bed and deal with school, work, or life. Some days I just want to stay in bed all day and not have to deal with life because I don’t think there is a point. I want to give everything up. I’m much more sensitive to stress now. Little thing that may not have phased me before the passing of my father are now amplified times 100. Every time I feel like not getting out of bed though, I get up anyways. I think to myself, “Today you feel like crap and do not want to do anything. But today, all you have to do is show up.” And that is what I do. I just show up and know that is all I have to do. I do not have to impress anyone; I just need to show up. I also think about how far I’ve come, how proud my father is of me, and how disappointed he would be with me if I did give up.

Getting upset when people talk negatively about their parents. This really irks me. I love to hear people talk about their parents in a positive manner, although some people are cautious not to say anything to me about their parents. However, when someone is bad mouthing their parent it really upsets me. Especially when it is over something petty. I would give anything to be in their position and have my father mad at me, because it would mean that he was here and concerned about my well-being.

The initial love that is “lost.” I know that the love my father has for me is real, but it isn’t presently here anymore. A large portion of the love that I felt in this world was because of him, and to not have him here anymore to reassure me of this leaves a void that can never be replaced.


Not wanting to bring your friends down. The hardest thing I struggle with is not talking to my friends about my father’s passing because I’m afraid that I will bring them down, and I do not want to do that. In addition, I do not want to put them in the awkward position of not knowing what to stay. I can’t blame them for this because they have not gone through the same situation. It just becomes very lonely.

Walking around campus with it always in the back of your mind. After a friend or significant other decides they don’t want to be your friend or significant other anymore, it hurts at first, but eventually you stop thinking about them and it gets easier. This is not the case when you lose someone. Every single day, I think about my father and it weighs heavy on my heart. When I walk around campus I feel so different from everybody else. I feel isolated. Most people still have both of their parents. Most people have no idea what I’m going through. Most people do not know the hurt I feel on a daily basis because of it.


Being sad for no reason. For me, the moments that I get sad about my father’s passing have no rhyme or reason. Some days I’m just sad and some days I’m fine. They big days, like Father’s Day and his birthday, typically do not make me too sad which is strange. However on random days, out of the blue, I’ll be looking at myself in the mirror doing my hair and just burst into tears for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes the smallest things will remind me of him; a song, a scent, a joke, I need to ask him a question, or I need to tell him something and I can’t. The first moment when I thought, “Oh, I need to tell my dad about this!” and reached for my phone only to realize I couldn’t, was one of the worst feelings I have experienced. 

Being pissed off for no reason. Sometimes I just get so angry at life. Why me? Why do I have to deal with this?  

Though it may be hard to initially reach out to your friends and family, just know that it is perfectly alright to do this. If you find talking to your friends and family to be hard, another option would be to find a therapist to talk with. Most schools do have counseling services that you can utilize. If you or anyone you know could benefit from the services at Bryant University, here is the link to contact counseling services:  http://www.bryant.edu/student-life/campus-services/counseling-services.htm