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The Struggle of Losing a Parent in Your College Years

With the upcoming one-year anniversary of my mother’s unexpected passing due to stage four ovarian cancer, I wanted to shed a light on what it means to be a college student dealing with the loss of a loved one. This is a life event that most don’t have to consider until well into the middle of their lives. I was 23.

I know I’m not the only 20-something that has experienced losing a parent. But sometimes I feel like no one around me can relate. I have to wake up every day knowing that I cannot pick up my phone to call my mom. There will be no pep-talks before that interview. There will be no lunches at the new restaurant that opened around the corner that she would love. There will be no more surprise mother-daughter shopping days to help ease the stress of those midterms. I know I can’t ask her whether I should wear that floral dress or those jeans. When I don’t do so hot on that exam, I can’t go cry to her. And at the end of my college career, there will always be that empty seat at graduation.

I’m not angry at my friends who have both of their parents. But I am tired of hearing how “annoying” it is when your mother is calling at an inconvenient time. Tired of hearing how you had to rearrange your busy schedule to have that lunch date with her. Tired of hearing you complain when you have parents that can answer your daily questions of, “How do I fill out this FAFSA?” or “Just what temperature do I cook this at, again?” Be thankful that you don’t have to figure out everything on your own-that you don’t have to “adult” as much as your parentless friend. Trust me, it’s exhausting.

So please, hug your mom or dad or guardian a little tighter. Make time for that unexpected call. Invite them to that movie, or that dinner. Don’t make excuses. Take their advice and savor it. Write it down. Say, “I love you” and “thank you.” Girls like me would give anything to be able to again.

If you are a college student dealing with the loss of a parent, I wanted to write this for you. You aren’t alone.  I wake up every day just like you, reaching for the phone, realizing that call won’t go through. But we are blessed. We are the strong ones. We have had a piece of our heart forever removed, and are still standing. We must push farther, work harder, and become all that we can be. For them.


Photos from Unsplash and author. 

Katie is a junior English Literature major with a passion for feminism, cooking, antiques, anything Southern, tattoos, and writing. She is new to the Her Campus team, and has also contributed to UCF's Imprint Magazine. She aspires for a career in the world of print and digital journalism, primarily writing and editing. Katie comes from a small, rural town in Florida, and is an advocate of living life slowly, with plenty of sweet tea and biscuits to help get you through. When she's not writing, she's cooking. She plans to finish a cookbook that will be a tribute to her late mother, and dedicates every piece she writes to the woman that helped shape her into who she is today.
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