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Crystal: "I felt like my life was over."

Crystal, now a college graduate, looks back to the time after her father died when she was fourteen. At that point, she had felt that her young life was over, hardly leaving the house for any reason, until her mother talked her into going to the Caring Place.

So Many Questions

I was 14 years old and had just graduated eighth grade. I was spending my summer vacation away from home. One Saturday morning in June, the day before Father's Day to be exact, I got a phone call from my mother that would change my life forever.

I heard her voice on the other end of the line say, "Your dad died." I couldn't believe what my mom was saying. I felt like my life was over. The truth is that my life as I knew it before was over.

I had so many unanswered questions running through my mind. Why did he have to die? What was going to happen to me? Would my pain ever go away? I felt angry and alone. None of my friends understood what I was going through. A lot of them stopped talking to me, probably because they didn't know what to say and didn't want to upset me. What they didn't understand was that not being there for me hurt me more than anything they could have said.

Immediately Welcomed

That fall my mom told me that my family would be going to the Caring Place. She said it would be good for me. My first thought was that I didn't want to go anywhere or see anybody. And I certainly didn't want to talk about my dad with a bunch of strangers. After some time, though, I agreed to go.

Once my family and I got to the Caring Place we were immediately welcomed by the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. The staff and volunteers made me feel very comfortable. After they fed everyone, they split us up into groups.

In my group there were other teens my age that also lost someone they loved. It felt comforting to know that everyone in the room could relate to what I was feeling. I wasn't afraid to talk about anything. Nobody was there to judge anyone else. Everyone was there to support each other.

The One Place I Could Feel Normal

We didn't always talk about how sad we were, or how much we missed our loved one that died. We talked about school, friends, or anything else going on in our lives. There was no pressure or expectation to talk about how sad we were. We were able to be ourselves. It was the one place where I could go to feel "normal" and not like "the girl whose dad died."

My time at the Caring Place helped me to realize that even though I am sad that my dad isn't around anymore, it's OK to have fun, to think about other things, to be happy, and to move forward in my life.

As time went by I discovered that my life was not over, just drastically different. I had to readjust to a life without my dad around to guide me. Learning to change my expectations for life and to have hope for the future did not come naturally. It has been an extremely difficult journey.

Nine years ago, I had no hope for the future. I was a lost fourteen-year-old girl with no idea what direction my life would go. Now I am a successful college graduate and I have many goals for my future. I now have hope that life will continue, things will get better, and I will be successful despite the untimely death of my father.