Losing a parent is one of those things that unless it has happened to you, you can't understand. You can feel sorry for me or be there for me but its difficult to come close to understanding how it feels unless you have experienced it.
Everyone, wherever you go in life, expects you to have a Mom and Dad. People openly ask you about your parents, often when they barely know you. In school, jobs and day to day life people are curious; Our parents are one of those things that people ask about when getting to know you. Although losing a parent comes with many challenges, there is one significant challenge that I believe is often overlooked....
Nearly EVERY new person you meet will at some point need to know this bad news about your life.
My mother passed when I was in elementary school and as such most everyone there knew of her death. My teachers knew, my friends knew and other people around me either experienced it with me or where there while we all dealt with it. However, as I started both middle school & high school I was faced with a new set of teachers & classmates. In middle school and high school, there were still those people who had known me before, but more and more I came across those who didn't and found myself in the uneasy circumstance of "having to tell". For me, having people who knew and others who didn't made introductions a guessing game for me. Typically I avoided the issue, but of course it came up. On more then one occasion I remember letting the words "my mom and dad" slide into conversations because it was so hard to "drop the bomb" on a new friend. As is obvious, this never worked for long, and ultimately I would tell my friends about what had happened.
The hardest of all was when I began to work outside of all familiarity. I didn't know the people I was working with or my employers and they didn't know me. Job applications don't have a line stating "Are both of your parents living?" As an adult, you don't want to brush over the facts, so naturally it became more important to tell people when the topic presented itself.... (As a teacher, constantly meeting new children and new families, this happens A LOT!!!) I still haven't found an easy way to "break the news" of my mothers passing to people that I meet along the way. I tell people about her death, but because converstaion tends to find that subject easily, I often am forced to tell those I barely know. I know it makes people sad for me and for my family, and of course you appreciate that... but in the face of a new person, what more is there to say? Often you hear the words "Oh, I'm so sorry!"... but from there, where do you go. It's not okay, I'm not over it, and it still makes me sad during some parts of most days. Obviously when we loose someone we all go on with our lives, but they stay with us forever.
With repetition it HAS become easier to let people know about my mother, but it is definitely a constant reminder that I would have never thought of until it began happening to me. In some ways it has grown to be a blessing. I remember her often, and with so many people, people I know well, and those who I may have just met; It helps her memory live on.