Becoming a Parent After the Death of a Parent

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Eleanor Haley

After someone you love dies, almost all “blessed events” thereafter become a mix of happy-type emotions and sad-type emotions.  In the midst of celebrations for graduations, promotions, new homes, engagements, marriages, births, grandbabies, big wins, and little wins, you may find your mind wandering from your present-moment elation to think “I wish [insert loved one's name] were here”.

One experience that seems to bring up a tumult of bittersweet thoughts and emotions for grieving people is that of becoming (and being) a parent after the death of a parent. I know this because I've laid bare about one bajillion words on the subject myself and also because we receive quite a lot of email from readers about their worries, concerns, anecdotes, and experiences with it.

I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about some of the reasons why being a parent after the death of a parent can be hard and some of the reasons why it's great. However, I realize that I can really only speak to my own experience.

Parent/child relationships and family dynamics vary so wildly that what is true for me may not be true for someone else. So, while I hope that something here resonates with you, I encourage readers to add their own experiences in the comments below.

Why Being a Parent After the Death of a Parent is Hard:

1. The deceased parent can't share in the news

"When we have joy we crave to share, we remember them."

Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

If your parent died before the birth of your child, you may experience grief and sadness because you never got to share this news with your loved one.

Those who had an - I tell my parent everything - type relationship with their parent may have acutely felt their inability to talk to their parent the moment they realized they were becoming a parent themselves. Others may find themselves daydreaming about the intimate or elaborate way they would have shared the news.

And though people usually think of newly expectant parents exploding with elation the moment they realize they're having a baby, the truth is that the idea of becoming a parent is often met with a mix of emotions that range anywhere from happiness to trepidation and fear. Whether this is your first child or your fourth, having a baby is a big deal and many people will long for the support of their parent as they begin this journey.

2. The knowledge that they will never meet your child and vice versa

Personally, something that I grieve over and over again is the fact that my mother will never know my children and my children will never know my mother. I think about how much they would have enjoyed each other and it feels tragic to me that their lives never intersected.

child and caretaker holding hands

3. You feel a teensy bit jealous of those who still have their parents

No one likes to feel jealous (I certainly don't), but sometimes you just can't help it. It's hard to see your friend's parents show up for the soccer games and dance recitals and know that (a) this is something your parent never got to do and (b) your child won't have your parent around to cheer them on in life.

4. You wish you had their help, support, or advice

There's no end to the scenarios in which a parent might wish for the help and support of their parent. For example..

  • You may wish you had your parent to help you after your new baby is born
  • Practically, you could really use their help watching your kids while you're at work or when you need a night out
  • You'd love to be able to call and ask your parent for their advice when the baby runs a fever, your kindergartener is having trouble adjusting at school, or your teenager is acting like a teenager

And, though it's very likely you have other people for help and support, no one can completely fill the void left by your parent because it's often that one particular parent's support and advice that you long for.

5. Your child's childhood reminds you of your own childhood

That's a mouthful, but what I mean is this: When you become a parent, you relive many of the experiences you had as a child through the lens of being a parent. This may cause you to wonder what it was like for your own parent when you were a child; it may give you a greater appreciation for the things they did for you, and you may feel flooded by old memories.

I put this on the 'Why It's Hard' list because there's often a sadness felt when a memory feels particularly sad or nostalgic. Or when you can't reach out to ask your parent a question about the past or to show your appreciation for them.

That said, this experience can actually be both painful and pleasant. Experiencing childhood from an adult perspective may allow you to connect with the memory of your parent in different ways, to feel gratitude for everything they gave you, and to reflect upon warm and comforting memories of the past.

child and mtoher

Why Being a Parent After the Death of a Parent is Great:

1. Your kids may provide you with a sense of purpose and joy

My eldest daughter was born less than a year after my mother died. Like many other new parents I wondered, Will I be a good mom? And I had the added concern of, Will my grief impact my ability to be a good mom? This is a concern I have since heard expressed by many new or expecting parents who are grieving.

Again, I can only speak for myself, but for me becoming a mother was a light in a dark place. It gave me a sense of purpose, it forced me to look outside of my self, it was a distraction from my grief, and it also connected me to my grief.

I think it's important to clarify, I am in no way saying "Have a kid, they'll make you feel better!" Because turns out, they're also a lot of stress and responsibility! The if, when, how, and with whom of becoming a parent will be different for everyone. And for some, the added responsibility of being a parent while grieving can increase stress and make coping with grief more difficult.

All I can say is that for me, being a parent has given me joy and purpose during some of my darkest days. Also, kids sometimes say and do really funny things - so that's an added bonus.

son on father's shoulders

When we use the phrase 'continue your bond,' what we really mean is to stay connected, to carry on, to remember, and to honor. Though we hope this is pretty intuitive, continuing bonds is a super important grief concept that you can learn more about here, here, and here.

Being a parent allows you to connect with your loved one's memory in a number of different ways.

  • Through the stories and memories you share with your child: I love sharing stories with my children about my mother, just like I remember my mother sharing stories with me about her mother. My daughters never had the opportunity to meet my mother, yet I feel as though they know so much about her and the type of parent she was.
  • Through the rituals and traditions you carry on: When we talk about ritual and tradition, we mean big things like holiday traditions and small things like a phrase they used to say every night when they tucked you into bed. When you carry on a ritual or tradition that was passed down to you by your parent, you create the opportunity to connect with your memory of them and also to share the memory with your children.
  • Through the lens of being a parent yourself: As we mentioned above, being a parent allows you to connect with your parent in new ways. The relationships we have with our deceased loved ones aren't static. They don't get frozen in time, they continue to evolve and change. So you may understand your parent in new and different ways at the age of 20, 30, 40, 50 and so on. And the things you did to connect with your parent at 20 may be different than those things that you do now as a parent. For example, things like carrying on their traditions, following their example as a parent, learning from their mistakes, adopting their values, and so on.

As noted, this article is a reflection of my own experience and some of what our readers have shared with us over the years. Realistically, we've only been able to represent a fraction of what people experience in being and becoming parents after the death of a parent. For that reason, we hope you will share some of your own perspectives in the comments below.

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40 Comments on "Becoming a Parent After the Death of a Parent"

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  1. Ellie  October 11, 2022 at 7:01 pm Reply

    This article really helped me too like many others in the comments I came here because I had my daughter & just 4 days after my dad passed away after a long battle in ICU. My heart aches but I know that he would be such a proud pappy of his granddaughter that he never got the chance to meet. (And first grandchild) xx

    • Darlene  January 3, 2023 at 3:40 am Reply

      Hi Ellie, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss of your Dad. That’s very difficult timing as well, especially with just having your daughter and recovering yourself.
      There are a few stories on here I have just read, I’m so sorry to those who have also lost a parent.
      I recently lost my Dad, I was in my third trimester at the time and I am finding it difficult. Trying to find a way to connect with people that may be in a similar situation. If anyone would like to connect, please let me know!
      Sending love! Darlene x

  2. Katie  May 10, 2022 at 4:02 pm Reply

    Hey, I just wanted to leave a comment because I have found this whole blog post really helpful.
    I’m 34 weeks pregnant and just lost my dad to cancer two and a half weeks ago. He was diasgnosed with cancer and within less than two months of his diagnosis we lost him. This was going to be the first grandchild of the family, and something we have been trying for so hard. The pain of losing my dad is almost unbearable, but our light at the end of the tunnel is our little baby that’s on the way. My family have gone through two huge losses during my pregnancy, the first being my papa and now my dad. If anyone has any tips on how they coped with grief of this nature, or any words of advice anything would be so helpful. X

    • Marie  October 5, 2022 at 1:53 am Reply

      As best possible try to acknowledge the grief you are feeling, this can include journaling, speaking with a friend/counsellor or a parent support group. Also make time for yourself and enjoy the simple things in life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s very important that a Mum is also loved as well as their baby. Best wishes on your parenting journey ❤️

  3. K  April 22, 2022 at 9:21 am Reply

    Mum passed away Jan I was pregnant July and it’s been an experience I would not wish on anyone. It’s natural to feel resentment anger and I find it changes your personality, I have days were I’m angry at everyone around me, those who dont appreciate their mums, those who change the subject and don’t acknowledge mum, those who never messaged or kept in touch after, I have a lot of anger and resentment to a lot of things but I know I will get though this, it’s just sadness for the life you have now with a new baby and the life you have lost its very surreal. I find comfort in the fact I have decades of knowing what mum would say do, so I can give those memories to my baby and pass on the experience she gave me growing up. It can be painful bit also very rewarding. Nothing prepares you for the flood of emotions that come with loosing a parent and having a child of your own! The hate will fade with time I hope but it’s ok to be angry and it’s ok to grief just remember until someone experiences the same as you they will not relate or understand try give them a bit of compassion as your not the bad person. Don’t let grief swallow you up and change you I have had 2 years of being angry and Im slowly starting to get me back. I know in time I have to start forgiving and forgetting those who let me down for my sake and the memory of my mum. I’ve lost a lot of myself not only my mum in the process xxx

  4. Kellys  April 10, 2022 at 12:34 am Reply

    My Mom was my best friend. She passed away suddenly from an unexpected aneurysm a few days before thanksgiving Nov. 2020. I always thought I knew what it was like to have a bad day until that day came upon me. Thankfully we were together when it happened, we were together all the time. She loved my bf at the time; my fiancé now. She couldn’t wait until we got married and had kids. (She even picked out our wedding place before we even got engaged haha) When she passed away, it hit very hard. A few months later, we got engaged and suddenly it hit harder without my mom. Fast forward a year- we started off 2022 finding out we are pregnant and excited as I am, it makes so so sad to know that my mom won’t be here to experience this with me. I don’t have her to call when I have questions, to go baby shopping with, basically everything moving forward. I will always carry our traditions and talk about her, but it still hurts. No one prepares you for this, I just always hope I can have the same impact on my baby girl or boy like my mom did on me.

    • Rebecca  November 23, 2022 at 8:53 am Reply

      Thank you for your reply from someone who has experienced it. I was very lucky to get married a few months before my Mum died. However, her unexpected death has completely wiped the thought of having children off the table for the time being. But reading other people’s feelings helps. People who have also lost their Mum’s before having children are few and far between and none of my friends understand.

  5. Tracy  February 6, 2022 at 12:11 pm Reply

    My sister died 9years ago. I was very close to her.we raised her two sons together and she became an amazing aunty when I had my daughter..but now that my nephew has had a child ..even since I found out he was having one.I’m so emotional .I dont know what this is.all I can think is that this baby is part of my sister.I dont understand am I grieving her all over again.or why is this so hard.its been two weeks I haven’t seen the baby. I’m scared since I dont know what I’m going through now.I ball my eyes out thinking of her new grandbaby because its a part of her.ldont know .I dont know what I’m going through but I know I need to see the baby and be there for my nephew as I promised my sister I would

  6. Shay G  January 5, 2022 at 1:28 pm Reply

    So the last few months of my pregnancy my father was having issues with his blood pressure dropping real low… My baby was 5 days over due… She was born August 4th, 2021.. My father passed away 2 weeks and one day later, on August 19th, 2021… I am still trying to figure out how to deal with the grief on top of post partum.. I am so thankful that he did get to meet his beautiful granddaughter, not to mention his first biological grandchild, (I have a sister with a different biological father, she has 2 kids). To top it all off I have moments that I see him clear as day in the reflection of her eyes… It comforts me to know he comes and visits, but the agony of not being able to actually see him like my daughter does is a whole other level….

    • Ellie  October 11, 2022 at 7:03 pm Reply

      Hi Shay, I had something very similar happen to me with my dad he passed away 4 days after my little girl was born. if you want a pen pal (over email) that would be great – // sending love to you and your family x

  7. Disha  August 16, 2021 at 2:50 pm Reply

    My mother-in-law died on 4/08/2021 at 9:16am and I delivered a baby girl on 4/08/2021 at 9:17am. My husband and I am still in a shock. She was struggling with life from past 2 months in the hospital. The last time I met her was on 3/08/2021 and as I left the hospital my contractions started and I was taken to the hospital at the same night. I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or it means something. I wish she could at least see the baby 🙁

  8. Cyn  May 12, 2021 at 10:10 am Reply

    My mother passed away in April and I found out I was pregnant a month later. We’d had all these plans and she was the one who helped alleviate my fears of having a child. Now I’m terrified and I miss my mom so much. I don’t have any other mother figures in my life that I can really go to. Even MIL keeps her distance and I’m not even sure she likes me. Sometimes I get so lonely and suffer depression & anxiety. I honestly haven’t been able to breathe since I found out I was pregnant.
    This article has been helpful and I find solace in seeing that I’m not alone.

    • Brittany Sims  June 7, 2021 at 12:49 am Reply

      I feel you on this I lost my boyfriend April 7, 2021 . I just had our newborn Feb 11,2021 he know I was pregnant june 17,2020 he was happy he was in a car accident july 20,2020 he was the only one hurt he was in the middle .everybody did not get hurt. I believe it was no wreck it was a sit up bout money . That hurt me so bad and he never seen his child .

      • TR  June 22, 2021 at 12:40 am

        I’m halfway through my pregnancy. In 2 weeks I should have been moved in next to my elderly parents. My mom just died unexpectedly. The rest of my family is being rude to me about this, wouldn’t even let me attend the burial! I haven’t heard much from my mom in the days before her death, which was unusual for her. I had learned that people with chronic Illnesses often choose to die after important events such as holidays. I’m beginning to think the stress of me moving nearby or me having another baby did her in? Or if chronically ill patients just give up at more appropriate times where they “let go”.
        I’m here searching for any thoughts or advice possible.

  9. Rachel A Roberts  June 15, 2020 at 9:36 am Reply

    I still have both of my parents, but these are some of my feelings as well. I was a month pregnant with my youngest son when my significant other passed away. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I look at my kids and Im reminded of him every second of the day. I randomly break down and cry. My kids ask me about him and i have to fight back tears to tell them all they want to know. Everyday is a reminder its a blessing yet something that haunts me as well.

    • Dan  March 13, 2022 at 9:19 pm Reply

      Thank you for writing this blog, it’s been so helpful to read about other people that experienced something similar and that have similar thoughts.

      My mother passed away 5 months ago completely unexpected and me and my partner feel pregnant the following month with our first child.

      I’m absolutely devastated they will never meet, I feel like it could have helped combat her battle with depression and give her a new sense of purpose. I wish she was there to ask for her advise or talk about when I was a child. She lived for being a mum and I’m going to follow in her footsteps and be the greatest parent I can be.

      As heart wrenching it is, there is still something inside me that feels the ending of her life has enabled another to be created… I’m not sure how true that could be but it gives me peace thinking that she passes to allow a new life to be born.

  10. Jun  April 6, 2020 at 9:17 am Reply

    In this world, death is part of life. We see the value of a person when they are gone. But being a new parent to a newborn is the most rewarding of all because the moment you held your child, you know how precious and significant the child is. That is why the Bradley Method or BirthForMen creates birth classes that value health, natural birth, and safety of parents and the child.

  11. Jen Wotton  March 8, 2020 at 7:07 pm Reply

    This article has really helped me. A lot of it resonates with me. Particularly the wanting advice and the remembering your own childhood.

    My mum knew I was pregnant but she didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl. She had cancer that had returned but most people recover from cancer now so to hear she was terminal was a huge shock. She was quite fit and never complained and also was put on steroids. So she was very active up until the week she passed away. We thought she had 6 months to live and everyone kept telling me that she would hang on in there until my baby came in December. But she passed away in august.
    My Dad and sister and mother in law came to see us in hospital but there was a void without my mum who would have desperately tried to get in before Robs mum!
    Every new thing my baby does I want to tell her. When I am tired I know she would’ve come and stayed and helped with him. If I’d needed to go somewhere she would’ve baby sat.
    Singing to your new baby and playing games being back so many menories and also questions I wish I’d asked. My mum lost her dad at a similar age and now I wish I’d asked her how she coped.
    And finally I have a lot of good friends most of which knew my mum well…..but noone knows how to talk about it. Especially my friends my age (31). I find this really hard.

  12. Beth k.  January 24, 2020 at 2:48 am Reply

    My family always told me ” don’t rush your life away” because i just couldn’t wait until i turned 18. May 2014 i was 18 and a senior about to graduate, met a wonderful guy same month. Fast forward to aug.2014 i moved in with him an hour away from home.Sept.2014 got married. Jan.2015 found out i was pregnant YAY!❤ feb 2015 car wreck thank Jesus we were all okay. Good months after that belly grew, morning sickness the works. Until… July 13th2015 i got a call from my sister. That my mom is in the hospital, wasn’t completely panicked because my mom had copd and asthma and had went before. But the other shoe dropped ” its different than the other times. Mom had an asthma attack and quit breathing and went too long without oxygen which gave her a heart attck and plus multiple mini strokes. Shes on a ventilator you need to be here.” Now i was definitely panicked but kept calm because i was 8 months pregnant. Well my sister and i had to make the hardest decision of our lives. July172015 they took her off the vent.. She went home to be with Jesus. August182015my first child a little girl wouldve been my moms first granddaughter. It kills me its been almost 6 years it hurts more not less. I feel like i havent got to grieve properly since then weve had a son. My MIL is very sick she has copd shes65 my mom was only 46. Anyway my MIL i try to help her as much as i can But it seems like shes just very ungrateful for my help. I just want my mom. Im 24 married with 2 babies. But part of me is missing. I feel like none of my husbands family cares about me or respects me. And my dad hasnt ever really been involved. And my sister is married with 2 kids and her youngest has cerebral palsy. So i feel alone but then i have my babies and they make every damn thing ive ever experienced worth it.

  13. Ashley Sutphin  January 17, 2020 at 10:07 pm Reply

    I’m still grieving over 2 my husband and I suffered 2years ago. I lost my mother in law, then 11days later I had my baby, and then my brother died 6hrs before my son was born.
    His mother, a truly amazing lady, died 11 days before the birth of her son’s first born. She was sick but it was still unexpected. She was the most excited of the grandparents to be a grandma. So to me this loss hurt bc my mom wasn’t as excited to be moving into that stage of life.
    My brother died 6hrs before my son was delivered! He was only 29. He went on hospice care 5days before I went into labor and had expected to be there for a while but he wasn’t, it happened so so fast. Did it really have to be the same day!? So now I get to celebrate my son’s birthday and my brother’s death on the same day (from the same year.) How ever old he is, is how long David’s been gone:( He was the most refreshing person you’d have ever met. He had kidney disease and knew from an early age he was terminal so he appreciated every little thing. He was an amazing musical savant, who could pick up any instrument and play it with ease.
    They both hurt. He would have been such a great teacher and just an incredibly great personality to have around with a emotional toddler. She could be such a source of advice, help and support. It’s like his fountain of self esteem has run out or been taken away and he can’t find validation, even though I try to be as supportive as possible. But there’s 2 incredible losses here. Nobody can truly explain how life doesn’t stop to grieve with you. It becomes painfully obvious when you now have a baby. How do you grieve? and when? Especially when it ALL happened so so fast.

  14. Michele  November 20, 2019 at 6:14 am Reply

    I lost my mom in August, she got on a plane to start a new career and had a heart attack, I’m 28. She gave up everything for us and she was finally doing something just for herself. My dad asked her out when they were in high school and it breaks my heart that he is alone now. He’s about to retire and was planning to follow her in her career. I had a miscarriage earlier this year, she helped me through it, brought me soup and hot water bottles and helped me get back to my work. This is one of the last memories I have of her. My brother is about to have a baby, I’m too afraid that if I have a baby now, I won’t enjoy it because she won’t be there with me to help me raise him/her. That’s not fair to a child. Any successes aren’t sweet and I’m not happy for anyone – I’ve been to 3 weddings and they made me feel sick. At least she saw me get married. I miss her, it’s so hard to live without her.

    • Rebecca  November 23, 2022 at 8:57 am Reply

      I could have written exactly what your wrote. Minus the brother.

  15. Jana Barsby  August 16, 2019 at 10:41 pm Reply

    The realness of it after 7 years.

    Not everyone has a peaceful passing and the aftermath of family pain can be heavy. You don’t really know people until someone in your family dies. People grieve in individual ways and, while the image of a supportive family is lovely to think of, the reality can be much different, and very isolating.

    Their estate—people change during grief. If your relationship with your family wasn’t great to begin with, be ready for strange behaviors to emerge. People drop off the map. Some tell un-truths. Your other parent tries to pawn things off onto you because their grief doesn’t know what to do with their dead spouse’s things. Her clothes and old christmas decorations are now supposed to live in your own home as memorials to what’s gone forever. People look to you to fill in the hole she left behind. Inheritances get disputed because people try to convince everyone else in the family ‘they knew what mom really wanted’ even though her Will is explicit. The insanity of your dysfunctional, grieving family resurfaces leaving little choice but to disconnect from them even more.

    You turn to religion. People push religion on you. You try for as long as you can. But then it’s horrible and the experience provokes the same disappointment and trauma that made you walk away from it years ago.

    You have fantasies about being ‘adopted’ by someone else’s family because your standing invitation for family holidays was buried with her. And people try to help you feel relieved that you have the freedom to celebrate your holidays how you choose. But all that you can think about is being the mom without a mom, and that no one wraps a gift just for you anymore.

    Your in-laws disappoint you because they don’t have the skills to support a devastated daughter-in-law. You never got along with them that well in the first place. But it still feels like betrayal that they didn’t come to her funeral. They never ask what it is you really need and come through. And their hurt feelings always seem to get in the way of being supportive grandparents, which drives home the reality of not having your own parent around even more.

    Jealousy—this is the part that hurts most. Seeing other people with their parent and knowing you will never be able to see yours again, to touch their aging hand or hug them or ask them anything ever again. Your mom’s cell phone number is still in your contact list. Death is final and processing that takes a long time. And trying to express this aloud to anyone who still has their parent(s) (which is most people at your age) feels like yelling into the wind. No one who hasn’t experienced the loss can really hear your pain, and it’s not their responsibility to make you feel better by feeling bad about having their own parents around. But you really want someone to hear, you really need a loving friend to look into your eyes knowingly as you describe the bereft feeling that there is no one to help with the myriad stages of life that need support and wisdom from the one that knew you best. Therapists are wonderful, but they’re not paid to have your family over for Thanksgiving. A hole is always there and nothing can give you that blessed sunshine of the spotless mind.

    Having kids during the death of your own beloved parent is a test of mettle. Your kids can grieve grandparents they have never met, did you know that? You have to not only take care of your own grief but also the grief of your children—for years and years. It’s a requirement to be super human and it’s exhausting.

    And 7 years later the weather will change to the season of her death and you won’t notice it right away. And you will be freaking out over various things in your life, feeling unhappy and dissatisfied. And your husband (if your marriage was strong enough to survive your nervous breakdown and family abandonment) will say to you as you rage at some trivial thing “Wait, what day is it? You’re mom died around this time.” And you’ll weep on the floor, feeling your heart and stomach wrench from your body as it did in the moments after she passed at hospice. Its been 7 years and it still hurts.

    • Brittany Sims  June 7, 2021 at 12:52 am Reply

      I feel you on this I lost my boyfriend April 7, 2021 . I just had our newborn Feb 11,2021 he know I was pregnant june 17,2020 he was happy he was in a car accident july 20,2020 he was the only one hurt he was in the middle .everybody did not get hurt. I believe it was no wreck it was a sit up bout money . That hurt me so bad and he never seen his child .

    • Autumn  June 21, 2021 at 3:22 am Reply

      I really, really REALLY needed this. It’s been 8yrs since my mom passed in a traumatic way. I’m 24 now and just had my first child who is 4mo. Even though trying to understand and address it is the most painful thing I’ve experienced I know it’s the only way to “get back up”. I still collapse on the floor. I have no one to turn to because my family all became estranged as well. The grandparent part truly does seal the deal of it.. I was mentally and emotionally collapsing and doing my hardest not to turn back to drugs but had nowhere else to go.. so I found this article. Then I found your comment and experience and we are so similar in this that it allowed me to feel validated and not alone and thus allow myself to fall into it then climb my way back up. Thank you. Thank you so, so much. I am so sorry you’re experiencing this but for whatever it’s worth, if you even see this, you’ve just made a difference in my life and made me feel not alone in this, truly and for the first time.

    • Dawn  April 18, 2022 at 4:14 pm Reply

      I understand every word and wish I had seen this many years ago when I had my first child in 1991. You learn to live with it and when it comes to that time of year, you suddenly feel overwhelmed . Thanks for sharing x

    • Sandy  May 29, 2022 at 6:09 pm Reply

      I found out that I was pregnant with my second child on a Monday. I wanted to surprise my mom so I didn’t call her. On Wednesday I got a call from my SIL that my mom and dad were missing. They hadn’t been seen since that Sunday night. I flew home with my 1 year old daughter the next morning. They had found my parents car abandoned on the highway outside my small hometown. On Friday, they did a search party. I was at the police department when we got the news that their bodies had been found tied up in an old barn out on a farm. They had both been shot. My world had shrunk down to just me and my daughter in my arms. I cried so much I thought I was going to be sick. My husband who had driven our car halfway across the country got in that night. I kept thinking if I had only called my mom I could had prevented their deaths but I know that it wouldn’t have helped. My SIL was also pregnant with a rainbow at the time and we were worried that the stress might cause a miscarriage.
      The one thing that gave me a little solace about not being able to tell my mom about being pregnant is that my SIL told me that Mom had told her that she had a feeling I was going to have a baby too when she found out my SIL was pregnant.

    • Mandy  December 5, 2022 at 8:02 am Reply

      This really resonates. I lost my mom seven years ago as well (though you wrote this several years back, so it’s more for you now), and I relate to so much of what you wrote. My partner and I separated this year and my family support has been non-existent. I just wish my mom was here.

  16. Lynn  July 15, 2019 at 2:12 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing this article. I have waited most of my adult life for the best situation in which to bring a child into this world. To give them the wonderful childhood that I was blessed with. My father passed away in 2007 after a 6 week battle with cancer and I knew then I was most sad that my future children wouldn’t get to have a relationship with him. I finally found the man I wanted to have a child with, but we weren’t lucky in getting pregnant ( I am now in my late 30s). My mom died last February 2018 after a remarkably similar 6 week battle with cancer. I had lost my anchors. I gave up hope when it came to having children, one because I was older and it hadn’t happened in over 3 years of trying, and two because I didn’t know what kind of parent I would be without them and what kind of life my children would have without their wonderful presence. Also, I was angry my parents didn’t get to experience the joy of being grandparents, they would’ve been awesome ones. I recently found out I am about 6 weeks pregnant. I am overjoyed, scared, sad, and in wonderment at the same time. Thank you so much for this article. It helps knowing I’m not alone in these thoughts and that they are normal and okay.

  17. Ashley  July 4, 2019 at 11:12 pm Reply

    My story is a little similar but also a lot different. In Nov/Dec of 2013 my dad asked me and my fiancé for a baby. I was only 22 and my fiancé was 32. We had only been together a year by this time and I was not ready for a child. We laughed it off but he was serious. In Jan of 2014 my dad passed away unexpectedly! I lost my best friend in the blink of an eye and my whole hopes and dreams were meir memories. Fast forward to today July 2019 we are still together but no children. I am 29 years old and I’m afraid to have a baby without my dad-best friend. How can I make a pregnancy announcement without the other half of my heart.

  18. Kathleen  June 17, 2019 at 8:35 pm Reply

    Wow — I wish I’d read this article 25 years ago! It couldn’t resonate with me more, even after all these years.

    I became pregnant with my one and only child just a few months after I lost my mother. My father had died back in 1973. What made me sad then — and makes me sad to this day — is the fact that my daughter never got to know her grandparents. They would have absolutely adored each other and there just isn’t enough of that in the world. A small army of wonderful aunts and uncles eased the path, but it’s just not the same.

  19. Ashley  April 4, 2019 at 6:56 pm Reply

    I also lost my mother 6 months before finding out I was pregnant. Her death was sudden and unexpected, a week after her 39th birthday. She suffered an aneurysm. She went to bed after coming home early from her job as a Registered Nurse due to a severe migraine and simply didn’t wake up. It was horrifying and the worst moments in my life so far. I had to call my family and tell them everything. I was 18.
    6 months later, after moving back to my hometown to where my siblings now had to live with our father, I discovered I was pregnant. I wasn’t processing my grief in any way and to be honest, I still haven’t. I’ve cried. Believe me, I’ve cried and pleaded and begged for her back. I’ve wished and wished to have her hold me and tell me she loves me.
    But I had to move on. I had to get a job and have a baby and be a mother and try to maintain a relationship and pay bills and do all those other adult things. And I did them well. I am a success, by other’s definitions. I have worked through adverse events and come out the other side with glowing reviews. I worked through a retail store, moving between departments, gaining valuable experience over 8 years while putting myself through school. I own my home. I got married. But what that did was put my grief on a shelf and hide it away. It often gets forgotten over time, but it doesn’t make it go away.
    My daughter is everything to me. But most experiences I have with her remind me of my mother and what we are missing. Often times, I am able to tell myself that my mother would be proud, that she’s always there with me in spirit and it helps keep the pain at bay. Yet, I do still feel jealous when I see an older mother and her daughter, with or without young children towing along, reminding me that I lost my best friend. That I don’t get to share that best friend with my daughter. That I didn’t get to have my mother to give me breastfeeding advice or to show me how to rock my baby to sleep or how to lay her in her crib or when to feed her what foods.
    My mother wasn’t there on my wedding day. She wasn’t there to help me plan it. She wasn’t there to tell me the order of the procession, or whether to do the first dance or the cake first. She wasn’t there to give me “something borrowed” or to watch me cry as I said my vows. She didn’t get to watch my daughter walk down the aisle in her yellow lace dress, with her red hair in curls. She didn’t get to laugh when my daughter tossed all the flowers out of her basket before she even reached the rows of my family, patiently waiting in the July sun.
    All these little things are things they don’t tell you when people talk about losing a parent when you’re young. And things that nobody dares mention when you’re having your own baby. I’ve only begun to open that box of grief that I’ve kept on the shelf. I am now a supportive counselor and am working on designing a grief support group for my community and have realized that I still have grief that needs to be examined. Of course, it will never go away. Loss defines and shapes us. Molds our personalities and our relationships. But we need to discuss it. To unpack it and shed light on it.

  20. Mary Andol  February 23, 2019 at 6:49 am Reply

    I posted your article on FB this morning with my comments. My daughter Levi died in 2016, my mother a year later. Following are my comments.
    My father died about midway through my only pregnancy, and I know of others who are filled with joy in the upcoming birth of a child while trying to deal with the heartbreak of “They’ll never meet each other.” This article talks about some things to expect on this journey through happiness and sadness.
    Some things I knew were coming:
    I wanted my Daddy to walk around her crib whistling softly and jingling his keys. Mama said it always made her smile although she really wished he wouldn’t wake us up, but it was so cute the way he always tried to look innocent. Like what? I was just whistling. I wasn’t trying to wake them up.
    I wanted Levi to remember what it felt like to reach up and grasp that forefinger as they walked together because his hands were so huge you couldn’t hold his hand and feel so safe and loved as when your little hand was wrapped around that finger.
    I wanted her to hear his off-key version of “You are my sunshine” and maybe even the questionable version of “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” that Mama would never let him finish.
    Some things I never expected?
    To look into her eyes while I was bathing her and suddenly see my father looking back at me.
    To watch her walk around the oak tree he had planted from a sprouted acorn. She’d hold up her hand like she was grasping a finger, chat merrily as they made a few circles around the tree, then say goodbye to what she called her “Purple Monster” each time right at the spot where he died.
    To find in her written works a story that starts off with a bouncing ball she describes as one she used to play with and evolves into an imagined conversation with a man she’d never known, her grandfather.
    I hope this article helps others who are facing this situation. Maybe it will help you to know some things to expect, but it could never predict everything.

  21. Meghantree  February 21, 2019 at 4:08 pm Reply

    My story is a little different and I am surely struggling with grief, sorrow, depression and anxiety.

    On 6/10/16 my best friend died by suicide.
    On 8/5/16 my 85 year old mom broke her hip.
    On 3/25/17 my mom returns home, she never walked again.
    On 2/16/18 my husband and I take in my 11 y/o nephew to raise him. His dad is on the streets and mom is dysfunctional.
    On 7/5/18 my mom passed away, sudden cancer that metastasized to her brain.

    The story below is the shape life took…
    After my mom broke her hip she spent seven months of “physical therapy rehab” at 2 skilled nursing facilities where she had to be hospitalized 3 times due to neglect, the third time put her in ICU, a coma and almost dead. My mom then spent 9 more weeks at a long term hospital and then an acute rehab before FINALLY coming home on 3/25/17. She never walked again. 15 months at home, some good times until the last 3 months. Hospital stays, fluid on lungs, oxygen tanks, sleepiness, drooling, then coughing up blood and back to hospital again. In May 2018 she was diagnosed with cancer and sent home on home hospice. Since breaking her hip, I have been helping a couple days a week (mostly fighting for her health rights in the skilled nursing facilities) ; they live 80 miles from me, it was a strain on my marriage and very small business. When hospitalized, I would be there for a week to help her return home, helping with transfers till she got strong enough that my dad could take over.
    I spent two solid months at my parents while my mom was on home hospice. I was the 24/7 caregiver for those 2 months. Lots to still processs with trauma.
    I have been home since the end of July 2018, it has been very difficult finding calm and peace. My nephew will be 12 in a few months, he still
    lives with us. We take him to a counselor once a week to learn coping and communication skills and to work through his own trauma caused by his parents. It is challenging dealing with my brother and his wife. Meanwhile my dad still lives 80 miles away. We are trying to get him to move closer but there are financial hurdles. I love my parents dearly, I love my nephew…. but it has been a very hard road and I am missing some of the life my husband and I shared before the pileup of tragedy. I am seeing a counselor and trying to processs and also work with “new normals”.
    Thanks for letting me share.

  22. RobinK  February 21, 2019 at 4:06 pm Reply

    I thank God that I found your website. This is the first time I felt I had to comment.
    My dad passed from an accident on my due date (of the first grandchild on either side). I gave birth to my son two weeks later. The last thing my dad gave me was a wood carving of a bird feeding it’s chick. If I had to leave my home in a hurry, that is the one thing I would grab. It symbolizes the circle of life, and knowing I have to be there for my son. I count that time as one of the hardest I’ve ever dealt with and it has helped prepare me for many more losses in my journey.

  23. GaryB  February 21, 2019 at 2:27 pm Reply

    We were overjoyed yet totally heartbroken when my daughter announced on Christmas day she was pregnant. My wife-her Mom had passed away in August after a short hard-tough battle with lung cancer that had mets to her brain (20 tumors). So add to the shock when we got her diagnosis in June and what we had to do-see and endure and then the grief maximized at her final passing etc…when my daughter made the announcement there was complete immediate sorrow inside but outside “wow-Congrats” for her to see. Yes not long after the “God how much she would have loved this” sentiments came out but myself and her sister and brothers could not show her total depression at her wonderful news. Yet inside we were all so hurt at who was missing this! I cant imagine the sadness my daughter had to overcome when she realized she was pregnant with all that was going on with her Mom and her battle. So now I am a grandfather again and all I do feel is “she should be here for this”. Yes I show outward happiness and keep my feelings to myself- I cant do anything but. But when my wife passed I had wished it were me instead-then when I found this out – again it should have been hear hearing this instead. I always said my wife should have been the one granted the longer life-she would have really been the wonderful grandma-me as grandpa? Just a sidekick-addition who could pitch in with her. But it was her wonderful persona that made her the ultimate grandma- as her entire family said she had a gift- she was a “baby whisperer” and provided that to all her sisters and nieces children! Unfortunately when she retired to finally get to the life she wanted as grandma-one she worked so hard to earn- the ugly hideous uncaring disease swept her away from us. She did have some wonderful time with her grandaughter and grandson- but to have added another would have put her over the edge of happiness! Sigh….so missed- so loved 6 months later…So unfair.

  24. Kate  February 21, 2019 at 2:22 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing down these thoughts and feelings. They are identical to mine. I unexpu lost our Dad 3 months before learning I was pregnant with our first child. Nearly three years later we lost my Mom when I was a few months pregnant with our second child. Everything you wrote in the article Mirrors my own experience with parenting after the loss of parents.

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