Of all the inevitabilities in life, death is the scariest one. As a child you grow up thinking your parents are invincible, that they're going to live forever. Then comes a day when a distressing thought invades your mind - "what would I do if I lost one of my parents?". You've seen it happen before, you have friends who have lost either their mum or their dad, sometimes tragically both. You offer your condolences and you empathise for a short time, then you move on. You try to imagine what they must be going through but you can't because your own mother is still alive, your dad is still breathing. They're getting older but they're still here.
Then one day death picks on you. It tightens its grasp on the person you love most and with one firm tug, they're torn away from you. Sometimes it's expected, other times it comes as a complete shock. One day they're here, the next they're not. Death is ruthless, callous and heartless. But the death of a parent, it breaks you. It takes with it everything that ever brought you happiness and leaves behind a shell of a human filled with sadness and desperation.
In a single moment the world as you know it just... stops. You're at a complete loss as to how this could have happened. You never think it will happen to you, until it does. Grief is destructive in all of its forms but there's something about the death of a parent that just crushes you. This person gave you life, they brought you into this world, put a roof over your head, fed you, clothed you, loved you. You grow up rarely acknowledging exactly just how much they do for you, not intentionally, you just never imagine there to be a day when you're without someone who loved you unconditionally for so many years.
To begin with it feels like their absence is only temporary and you'll be waiting for them to come through the front door at any moment. Months pass and you're still trying to convince yourself that they'll be home soon. Until one day, you're crying on your bedroom floor unable to accept the fact you're never going to see them again. You spend hours calling their mobile, praying that they'll pick up and ask you how your day has been. Instead, you're greeted with a slap in the face from reality in the form of a voicemail recording - something you'll later find yourself listening to over and over again before you go to sleep, just to make sure you never forget the sound of their voice.
Pictures become your most precious possession and even if you have hundreds you'll still kick yourself for not having taken more. There will be days where you won't think twice about texting them to tell them something before realising a reply will never come. Good days are few and far between, often dampened by a reminder that someone you love dearly should be here with you. You can't even listen to someone else talk about their parents without painting yourself green with envy.
You can't eat, you lose sleep, you get ratty and irritable. You feel sad, confused, angry and alone. Most days you don't want to get out of bed, just to avoid facing yet another day without the one person in your life who deserved to live a long, happy and fulfilled life. You drive yourself crazy with constant thoughts of what you could have done to save them, no matter how many people tell you that there was nothing you could have done.
You lose the people who never cared and you make friends in the people who try their hardest to understand. You lose motivation to do anything but you surround yourself with people who try and make the best of a bad situation for you. But through all of that you plough through. People tell you that the grieving process gets easier. They lie. It doesn't get easier, at all, not one bit - you just get stronger.
Life isn't fair, that's a fact, and losing a parent is an unfortunate given for all of us. It's heartbreaking and cruel but most of all it's exhausting. I'm tired and broken and confused and angry. But I'm coping.