Tuesday, March 3, 2020

One Year Ago...

There is this saying that in one year from now you will be in a very different place, (emotionally, financially, socially, spiritually...) never has that statement been more true for me than today. Today is the one year anniversary of my fathers death.

My father had been sick for a very long time, but it was his final months that took a tole not just on him but on our entire family. Long, endless sleepless nights, marathon hospital stays,brief moments of hope and several moments of panic, gave way to the blessing of a few hours of hospice care before my father took his last breaths.

I was not alone when my dad passed, my then 18 year old son was with me. My youngest sister, and my youngest brother were in the room as well. As my father labored, we all counted each breath while hockey played on the tv opposite my dads bed, this was I am sure very comforting to him, I know it was for me and I also know I have not watched a game on tv since, not wanting to feel that pain again,  worried that PTS feeling will return when I do.  There is a helplessness in the loss of a loved one, for sure, for me I still feel it today. I am 44 years old and have lost both my parents and my brothers. My mother at 56, My father at 65, my twin brothers at less than 24 hours old and one at a day, my brother Christopher at 34. I am the oldest surviving member of my family, the matriarch if you will, a title I never wished for and simply don't really wish to claim.

With the passing of my other family members I preferred a less public display of grief, however after months and months of therapy I realized that in doing so in the past, I was not really letting myself grieve.

Sitting with grief and sadness is painful. Talking and sharing about it for me is a lot like a trip to the dentist, something I hate, I protest and inevitably have to give into, it's the pain, the memories and the trauma ripped raw with each visit, each memory and each event.

My son who is 12 often asks me what it is like to be an orphan, to not have parents, or in his mind a family anymore.  The only thing I could think of saying was "It's just really weird"
I do have much younger sisters and a younger brother still alive, but it does feel a bit like I don't have a family anymore. No longer really belonging to a unit, somehow expected to go from a unit member to the leader. Its daunting. We look at old family photos and all I can think is wow, I am the only one left alive in this photo, it is a struggle to look past that point for me.

From grief, I have learned that I am not the person that I expected to be, I am not the person I was sure I could become. I am learning that who I am is enough, that it really isn't my job to be responsible to uphold expired belief systems, if they don't sit right with me, that it is not my responsibility to make others happy at the expensive of my own happiness. I also know I am not that same person I was a year ago, but I will always remember who that person was and how I felt a long with what it felt like the day I lost my dad.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you all today. I hope that you make the best of your day and that you know that you too are enough.
I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at karenmowen@gmail.com


  1. Sending hugs to you, Karen! I also lost both my parents when they were in their early 60's and know how difficult it is. Thank your for sharing your journey with us.

  2. Sending hugs your way.
    I remember the first moment when it came to me that I was an adult orphan. Even with seven siblings, I felt alone. I felt my family stories taken away from me. Mom, Daddy, even my Mommom, they're gone and I have no one to tell me about them or about me. My siblings try, but their stories don't always match up. Being an adult orphan will never get easier, but write down all the stories your parents told you. Every one that you remember. It's helps to have the past they told you about.
    Love you my friend.