Both parents died, raising siblings


Hi everyone... this is my first visit to the site. I stumbled up on it today because I'm have a bit of a bad day and am missing my parents terribly. I will tell you all a little bit of my story.

My father died on December 8, 2006 of hepatic renal failure (he was morbidly obese and had bariatric surgery in 2005, his liver and kidney failure were complications from the surgery). He was 44. It was a horribly long and drawn out death, he was sick for about 4 months previous to his death. My father was the rock of our family, my mother had never been very stable and had battled an addiction to prescription drugs for most of my life (I am 21, by the way). Once my father died my mother fell into an even deeper depression and struggled for many months. She often talked about suicide (only to me, and only in her darkest hours) but I always got her talked back up. She was exasperating in her grief, could not move on and I was frustrated. We were such different people and grieved in such different way. She couldn't understand how I could funtion and carry on without my father and I didn't understand why she couldn't. In June of last year (June 28, 2008) my mother passed away as well. She was 45. She died of an overdose on a prescription medication. She was in and out of conciousness before she died and she kept repeating that she was sorry she took the medication and that she had messed up her dosage but there are always those questions as to whether or not she was trying to commit suicide or just unintentionally did it because she was trying to drown her pain (it was ruled accidental by the coroner).

I have 2 younger siblings who are 13 and 12. Now we are all 3 orphaned, and I have decided to continue raising them myself. I feel that I can do the best job out of anyone. We live in northern Indiana and the rest of our family is scattered throughout the south (Mostly in Alabama). It is excruciatingly painful and difficult but it's worth every second. I can't imagine the girls being anywhere else but with me. Thankfully my father had a trust set up for us and I am able to go to college without working and have enough to provide for the girls. I have been trying to find someone else that is the same age as me that has gone through this same thing but can't seem to find anyone (as you can imagine, it's a very rare case).

I miss my parents everyday, and it seems that I miss them even more the further away from their death dates it gets. I need guidance, or just some kind words.

Thanks for reading,


Comments (12)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Erica, I am so sorry that your parents died and that you have all the responsibility on your young shoulders. You sound like a very strong and mature young women and I know that you will do great things. I am so happy to hear that you will be able to go to school and not have to worry about that aspect. Apparently sense your mom was on drugs you did parenting long before she died. I don't know what to tell you. Do you have any one that you can lean on close by that can help you out some?

If you haven't done so already you need to go to social security to get it for your sisters. You probably also need guardianship but I am not sure.

I feel like an orphan because my parents both died within the last 18 months and I am in my 50's. I can't imagine how you feel with the grief and helping your siblings with it also.

I will keep you in my thoughts are prayers and if I think of any thing that may be of help to you I will let you know.

Another thing, have you been to grief counseling. I know down here they had group meetings through Hospice and could go even though we didn't go through Hospice.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lindac need help! How about a church? some sort of agency to help those that are struggling..
I understand that money is not the issue but stability and help dealing with the younger siblings.
I am curious....what went on in your parent's lives that led to the large difference in your ages? Was this as econd marriage for one or the other? 9 years is a long gap between babies.
Where are you going to college? In town? You must live in a fairly good sized town.
I would think that given your situation the press and the loacal newspapers would be behind you and all about finding you some emotional help.
you are telling the truth aren't you?
Linda C

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello Erica, Your sisters are fortunate to have such a strong big sister, but seriously you need someone to lean on too. I am 54 and believe it or not my older brother just passed from the same thing as your dad "hepatic renal failure" except we had been fighting it together and trying for the transplant list but he wasn't accepted. We had been so close since we were kids and he was my last living immediate family member.

I still get caughtup in alot of moments even though I joined a griefshare group through a local church. I am not even a church going guy but it has done me alot of good. I realized God and faith actually make you feel better when it seems all is lost, especially when there's nobody to talk to and that's alot.

I know you and your sisters will get through these tough times in grief, but try and realize there is support for you and that your father's and mothers fight has been won.

Your in thoughts and prayers

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm so sorry you & your sisters have lost your parents.

I think your mother's death was an accident;
if she'd overdosed on purpose & then found herself conscious, I think she'd have said things like, "Why am I still here?"

Knowing that she had confided in you about her suicidal feelings, she wanted you to know that she did not leave you on purpose.

I wish you all the best.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. Unfortunately, after I posted that I lost the website information and was unable to find my way back to see what everyone said. I don't know if you will get my update, but I thought I would write one anyway.

Since I last posted my world has been kinda turned upside down. My sisters lived with my fiance and I until June when they went to live with my Uncle in Arkansas. This was definitely not our wish, but the courts ordered that I was unfit to be their legal guardian, because of my age. There was quite a bit of money involved which, it turned out, was what my uncle was most interested in. My sisters were miserable and missing me (as I was them). My grandmother took over guardianship from my uncle as the girls were not doing well in his care. They are now living in Alabama, surrounded by all of our remaining family, and I have returned to college and will finish in about a year. My fiance (now husband) got married on January 2nd, 2010. It was a wonderful wedding...but as you can imagine, there was a dark cloud looming over the day because my parents weren't there.

All in all, the girls are settling into being in Bama with my grandmother well. We talk on the phone 2-3 times a day and remain very close. I take frequent trips down (I live in Indiana) and they will be coming to visit me this summer. Thank you all for your kind words. I still struggle with this every single day... some days more so than others (like today). Sometimes I feel very alone and wish for the old days, and sometimes I am satisfied with where I'm at in my life. The old saying "one day at a time" certainly rings true with me.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello Erica, I am deeply saddened to learn of your situation with your parents and how your sisters have moved away. I know you said in your first post that you were looking to see if anyone out there had a similar case to yours. That was what I was doing today April 21,2010 when I stumbled onto this page. I have been really searching for someone to talk to about this. I am 22 years old and by the age of 21 both of my parents had died as well.

I am the oldest of 3 children and was the first to go to college. I was nervous as many kids first embarking into the college world usually are. I had a football scholarship to a university in Pennsylvania and my parents were very excited to continue watching me play. I remember pulling up for camp not wanting to get out because of how big the players looked. Hahn. The best thing however is that my parents made me get outta that car and sign up. I had some of the best times at Shippensburg University. One of the best things about heading to college is that it brought my Dad and me a lot closer. He would drive 2 hours every weekend to see my games and take me home. Growing up through my teenage years my father and I always bumped heads and never really got along. I guess you could say that I was more of a mama's boy. To understand this you need to understand my fathers background. He grew up poor with both parents and 2 sisters. His father was a drunk and basically pissed their money way. My father had to go to work at an early age to basically support his family. He worked ever since. He never took anything for granted and he tried to push that onto my sisters and me. He even took a job that he hated just for more money to support us. However me being a stupid teenage thought that was stupid and we would often argue. Back to college. I grew up more and more each month and began to really appreciate my father and understand what he was going through. Soon the semester came to an end and I thought of transferring back to home to be closer to my family. For some odd reason my dad was really upset about this. He constantly worried about the money and he was starting to become more and more edgy. Even more than before. Upon Christmas break my mother had complications with her heart and was rushed to the ICU. She almost died twice. This I think put my father over the edge. He worried about everything and now this was too overwhelming. Eventually my mother got out of the hospital and things went back to normal. Until I got a call Saturday Feb 3rd from my mother stating that she couldnÂt find my dad. I really didnÂt think anything of it because my father was constantly going to the church or helping my grandfather or his mother. The hours passed and my mom started to become scared. She called me crying several times. Later that night he finally returned. Upon entering the house my mom asked him where were you? He replied with his knees of his jeans soaked "I've been walking and praying all day". I guess he was kneeling in the snow. My mom went to hug him and he backed up. She believed he had the gun on him and didnÂt want her to feel it. Later that night she called me and my sister (who came to visit me at school) to tell us that everything was ok and that Dad would never do anything to hurt us. He said he felt like he was in a huge hole and couldnÂt get out. He asked to talk to me but I refused. I refused because he made everyone so scared and I was mad at him. My mom said that upon hearing I didnÂt want to talk to him he just put his head down. I regret this everyday of my life. The next day Sunday February 4th 2007 he was found dead by his best friend in the woods behind our house. He had shot himself on the old bike trails we used to ride.

This event changed my life forever. I dropped outta college to come home and care for my mother and sisters. I was a total wreck and looked to weed and drinking to cure my sadness. I was sad because I was finally getting close to my father but I was also pissed off because he left us here alone. My mother was a complete mess. She would often say she lost the love of her life. However she pushed forward to support and raise us kids.

Mom continued with work, my sisters with High school, and I looked for a summer job and applied at St.Vincent College.

My first semester there was awesome. I made lots of friends and learned a lot. However in the winter of that year my mother had to get her knee replaced. I took off school to take care of her. It was hard because I had to leave my new life behind. The following fall I went back to SVC and again had a great time until the anniversary of my fatherÂs death. It was the weekend of his death and I just wanted to go home to be with my mom and sisters but my friends convinced me to stay and drink with them. They said it would get my mind off things. So I unfortunately accepted and we started to drink. This was not a good idea. The sadness overwhelmed me and I became very irritable. To make a long story short. My roommate and I got into an argument and we both had our beer muscles on. It started to get physical and we got into a fight. He blamed it all on me saying I was like a raged monster. He continued to tell the RAs and I eventually went to a trail at school where they kicked me out for 1 year. My life yet again was crushed. I left feeling so abandoned so betrayed. It was a very hard time for me. My mom wasnÂt happy but we worked it out. I was going to the University of Pitt in the fall and I would just get my life back on track. Upon this time my mother became very ill with her diseases. She had Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalsia and another type of arthritis. She could barely walk and was in pain all the time. It was kind of a blessing in disguise because I was there to help her. Things continually got worse and she passed away in November from a lung clot. My mother, my best friend was dead. WAS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?!

Since then I have gotten a job and we are currently in the process of selling our house. My sisters are attempting to get back into school and so am I. I donÂt know where though yet. I feel like I need to just go and live my life. Nothing is holding me back now. I just get so overwhelmed all the time. ItÂs so hard and not a lot of people completely understand. I try to face this with an open heart and open faith in God. He has a plan. Your input would be much appreciated.
Thank you Erica
God Bless

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


We should talk.... email me...

I have LOTS to say to you and would enjoy talking to someone else in my situation. :)

God Bless,

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Erica and Josh, I have no useful input for you, never having been in your situations. But I'm sending heartfelt hugs to both of you.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i am 16. on dec. 24, 2004 i lost my dad. july 25, 2010 i lost my mom. i am the oldest. i have a younger brother and sister. we were taken away from everything we had. we hav a stepdad, but my mom's family made sure we wouldn't live with him. we live with our aunt and uncle now and they are forbidding us from seeing him. but i am 16, thats age of emanicapation in kentucky. i mean don't i get a say or something? please if anyone can answer this question send me an email to
please thank you

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Erica and Josh, my thoughts and prayers are with you! I am a bit older than the two of you but have a similar story. i am in my mid-30s and the oldest of 8 children. Both of our parents passed away in 2008. Our dad was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and passed away after a very hard 3 1/2 month battle. Six months later, our mom was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and passed away a month and a half later. It was a devastating time for all of us and most especially, our youngest brother who was still in high school. Our grandmother had lived with our parents for a bit and fell ill in 2007 and passed away that spring - this was during my brother's sophomore year of high school. During his junior year, our dad got sick and passed away. This was an incredibly hard time for my brother because he's the only boy in the family so if our mom wasn't home to help our dad go to the bathroom at his bedside and my husband wasn't there, our dad would get my brother to help him. There were times when our dad would try to get up in the middle of the night and because he was so weak, he would fall on the floor and then our mom would need my brother and sister to help her pick him up and get him back into bed. It was devastating to see our parents deteriorate so quickly and especially hard on our brother to have to take on so many difficult adult responsibilities at such a young age. Our mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of the summer just before our brother started his senior year and then passed away a month a 2 weeks later. So our brother dealt with 3 major losses throughout his last 3 years of high school.
As soon as my mom passed away, i immediately went to the court to get official custody of my brother. My mom and I had talked about me and my husband taking on a guardianship role. Because my brother was 17 at the time and would turn 18 a month and a half later, we got court appointed custody rather than full guardianship. Guardianship would have taken several months to put in place and go before a Judge and at that point, my brother would have been 18 which would make guardianship more difficult. With custody, it is me and my husband vs. my parents but because my parents are deceased, they cannot argue any of the guidelines of the custody agreement. We needed to have some form of official documentation stating our custodial responsibilities in order to get my brother under our health insurance and thankfully, this worked.

Erica, it is wonderful that your father set up a trust to help you with school! I wish I could say the same about our parents. Unfortunately, they were not at all prepared for what might happen if they passed away. There were no Wills, no education trusts, nothing to help out with any of the costs to help raise the younger siblings who needed help and guidance, both financial and otherwise. One of my sisters and I are administering the estates (my grandmother, mom, and dad's estates) and our lawyers made it very clear that no estate money could be used to help with education because even though my brother was 17 at the time of their passing, our parents had every right and opportunity to designate money to be left to help with education costs. It was incredibly frustrating and left me in tears many times as I tried to work step by step to figure out how we were going to manage everything financially. Both my husband and I were still paying back our own student loans and I had been laid off from my job shortly after returning back to work after my mom's funeral.

I think that changing the dynamics of switching roles from sibling to a parental role can be quite a challenge in many ways. It can also make you feel very isolated from others, even from your family and other siblings sometimes because there can always be those who question how much control you should have, among many other things. Most of my friends have babies or small children so it was hard to find someone I could relate to who could at least understand what it's like to have a child in high school who would soon embark on all of the excitement of senior year - senior trip, prom, graduation. I can remember heading to the bookstore shortly after my mom passed away, pouring through the shelves, looking for any books that would help explain how to handle the transition from sibling to parent... how to raise your teenage brother. There was nothing. The best I could do was buy a book about raising teenage boys and even that wasn't much help because my brother wasn't just an average teenager but one who had been through an enormous amount of trauma and loss. I found that working through the school was a good place to start. His guidance counselor recommended an excellent therapist that some of the other parents had also recommended. This therapist has been wonderful and I am so glad that I thought to ask for resources rather than just trying to wing it on my own. My brother has gone through issues with depression, substance abuse, and thoughts of harming himself. Just recently, he reached a very low point and we were able to find a wonderful treatment program for him and he's already sounding like his once happy, comfortable self. I am so thankful that this program has been so helpful to him and has been teaching him the coping skills he needs to help him get through the rough times which tend to fall around holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries of their passings. The 2nd anniversary of our mom's passing was earlier this week in fact.
In spite of the difficulties, my brother graduated from high school and went on to start college, then realized after his first semester at that school that he wanted to transfer to a school where he could follow his passion. He is an incredibly talented musician and wanted to study recording arts. Once he was settled in a new school, learning and studying in a subject matter that he loves, he really began to excel. There have been bumps in the road as he and the rest of us try to pull together as a family and create our "new normal" but there have also been wonderful milestones accomplished and experienced too. In spite of everything we've lost, we are still very blessed!

My thoughts and prayers are with you both Erica and Josh. I am so glad that you found one another! I too come online to try to find other people who have experienced a similar situation because it always feels good to find others who you can relate with. Take care and may God Bless you and your families!!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


My Dad just died 3 months ago. My Mom died 7 years ago. I'm 22 and my sister just turned 18 four months ago.

After reading your post, in a way I guess we are blessed because my sister turned 18 a month before my Dad passed away so we didn't have to worry about guardian stuff. Also my dad was married so we have a step mom and also two step brothers and a stepsister, all around the same as us. I am the oldest though.

It really hurts. I wouldn't wish this pain on no one. I cry a lot. I was just crying which is why I searched for stuff like this, lol.

After my Mom passed, I was 15, and I didn't take it so well. I partied a lot and I was just angry. Angry at the world. I finally felt like I was starting to accept it and move on and then my Dad gets taken. Angry is an understatement. I love my Daddy so much. Ive always a Daddy's girl and he's my best friend. It's hard to accept that he's not a phone call away anymore.

I'm not doing so great to be honest. I'm trying to stay strong, mostly for my sister. I have to be there for her, no matter how much she annoys me lol. She is gonna graduate next month and she got into college. I quit my job to make sure she goes to school and all that good stuff. Luckily, my Dad owned a business and we sold it so we have some money. I applied to go back to school, but we'll see what happens. I hang out with friends and family and just do things to entertain myself and it helps. I'm ok, but I'm really sad right now. I feel nothing and everything all at the same time.

I feel like I was so sad for so long about my mom. I spent 7 years mourning her loss, being sad she was gone. I just can't bear to stay sad for another 7 years. I miss her, but I wouldn't be the person I am today if she was still here. I wouldn't have the opportunties I have today if my Dad was still here. Everything happens for a reason. So, I just take it day by day, and I try to find the good things in life.

I go to church. I don't know what I would do without the church. At the very least it gives me comfort. The people there are nice, and I love our pastor. He was there with us during all that hard stuff with my Dad (they were friends) and he's still there for us if I need anything. He's just a good person. I'm currenly making lessons plans for childrens church and teaching. It's fun and it helps me to learn the bible.

I think the best thing about going to church is it gives me hope. It gives me hope that I will see my parents again one day. I love my Dad so much, I know he just passed, but I can still feel him; I know he is in heaven watching over me. My mom too. I can't help thinking that they are in heaven together, watching over my sister and I. And one day, we'll see them again. :)

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are so many agencies out there that will help you. I am so glad that you went to the church and our letting them support you - that's one of the most basic and wonderful things about having a pastor and a church that you love. You will never get over the loss of your parents - by that I mean that you will always feel that void. It will lessen over time but they were a significant part of your life. But you will be able to move forward with peace and comfort and instead of mourning their loss you will start to find some joy in remembering that you had them in your life for as long as you did and that in itself is a blessing.

Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Kids’ Spaces How to Create a Wonderful Bedroom for Siblings to Share
Most brothers and sisters benefit from sharing a room, but these tips will help keep the inevitable territorial disputes to a minimum
Full Story
Life Tell Us: Do You Know How to Live With Your Parents?
If you've tried multigenerational living under one roof, we'd love to hear the details
Full Story
Most Popular The Not Naturally Organized Parent's Guide to the Holidays
This year get real about what you can and cannot handle, and remember the joys of spending time with the ones you love
Full Story
Van Metre Homes is a homegrown builder with a reputation for blending the enduring traditions, quality and value... Read More