To those of you who don’t know, my dad passed away at the hands of skin cancer when I was eight. This has been something that I’ve always struggled to come to terms with-and I always wanted somebody that understood my situation, but I never really found that comfort. So, to those of you who have lost a parent, or are currently losing a parent, here’s some advice (and just general understanding) from somebody who has been through this unique type of grief.

  1. The chances are, you’re going to feel different and isolated. That’s not unusual, given the fact that 90% of children are still in a bubble of innocence, building sandcastles, or, if you’re an older child, sitting contently in front of the television set. Since the age of 8, I have had huge problems socially. It’s not that I don’t have people skills;more that I’ve given up on other people my age, and, likewise, they’ve given up on me.

A few days after my dad died, the social rejection began. I’d approach a group of girls in the playground, and they’d tell me “you can’t play because you don’t have a dad” or “he died ages ago, get over it.” And in the end, I just gave up. What’s the point?

Still to this day, I am somewhat of an outcast amongst my peers:only a short time ago, I decided to message several people my age on Facebook, in an attempt to build new friendships. And the response I got? Well, in less direct words, (although, only slightly less), I was pretty much told to fuck off.

This is the problem with children-once they’ve decided to reject you, label you as “different”, they seem to stand by their decision as if their lives depend on it. The bullies tend to hunt in packs;in a survival of the fittest fashion.

So, my advice to you fellow outcasts, whether it be through losing a parent or not, is to look to the future. People grow up-and they change. And whilst the rest of your childhood may be gruelling, I think your adult self will be more than fine. Because you’ve suffered socially, that will make you stronger. How are those girls who rely on being pretty, or all those sports captains going to find their individuality, their character? They’re not, because they’ve never had to find their own way.

Trust me,you’re going to be just fine.

2. You feel so very old and wise, but you’re trapped in a child’s body. I’m not saying that, at eight years old, I knew it all-of course I didn’t. But watching someone whim I had prpreviously assumed was immortal start to die in front of my eyes fucked me up. Every child must shed that cloak of naive magic and innocence at some point-but usually, that transformation happens over a span of many years. It feels as if I grew up, effectively, overnight. And that’s something that I struggled with for a long time:it seemed as if too much had been packed into my brain a thousand times faster than my body was growing, or my birthdays were passing. My, sometimes inaccurate, view of the world started to grow into a wiseness which I could not yet fully cope with.

Again, fellow grievers, bide your time. You will reap the rewards of your pain at a later date.

3. I couldn’t express my innermost feelings. Or rather, I was too ashamed and emembarrassed to bite the bullet and cry. I didn’t know what to say to my dying father-it was, to put it mildly, a bit awkward as I was dragged through endless corridors of the hospice until I reached his bed. I remember the last time I saw him clear as glass: he told me he loved me, and I replied “you too.” I’ve beaten myself up for a long time about that;my last words. You too. But after all, last words are meaningless-as if the last few sounds one soul makes to another could possibly come close to summing up the entirety of a relationship. I tell myself, time and time again, to move on.

Things are what they are, and you were a child. You have to forgive yourself. There’s nothing to feel guilty about.

It’s taken me a long time to come to that realisation.