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For adults who were children when their parents died, the question is hypothetical but heartbreaking: “Would you give up a year of your life to have one more day with your late mother or father?
” One in nine Americans lost a parent before they were 20 years old, and for many of them, this sort of question has been in their heads ever since.
One 10-year-old girl told the others about a day when she was 5 years old and got mad at her father.
He came into her bedroom to kiss her good night, and she pretended she was asleep because she didn’t want to talk to him. “She’d been carrying this story with her for five years,” says Mr. “It’s so powerful to see the raw emotions these kids share.” Some activists say it’s vital to start helping young people even before their parents die.
When she was 13, her 44-year-old father drowned while on vacation in the Bahamas. “My mom tried to fill the void and the hurt by buying me things.” Two years ago, Ms. “There’s something about being with people who’ve been through it.
She says she is worried that educators, doctors, and the clergy get little or no training to help them recognize signs of loneliness, isolation and depression in grieving children—and in adults who lost parents in childhood.
Students are often promoted from grade to grade, with new teachers never being informed that they’re grieving.
I had a good relationship with my dad, but he was also grieving.” Mr.
Jahnke credits his wife with helping him on his “upward climb,” and says his 2-month-old daughter has given his life purpose.
They wrote of “growing up as lost souls,” and turning to drugs and other troubling behaviors as coping mechanisms. Gary Jahnke, 31, of Hastings, Minn., was 13 when his mother died of cancer.