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I’m Too Young For This, Too

Many of you are probably aware, but my dad suddenly and tragically passed away the second week in August.

He was 62 years old.

I lost my father the day after my 29th birthday, although I found out that he was missing the night of my birthday.

For those who don’t really understand rheumatoid arthritis, it’s commonly thought that RA is a disease that only old people get, and the resulting quip is, “You’re too young for this.”

Well, I’m too young for this, too.

My dad was too young to die.  And I am too young to have lost a parent.

But it didn’t help to hear that when I was diagnosed with RA, and it certainly doesn’t help me now.

I may be “too young for this”, but it happened, so clearly I’m not really “too young for this”.

I never anticipated that I would be diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses at the age of 22, and I never expected to lose one of my parents before the age of 40.

When I got diagnosed with lupus and RA, I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen.  I never imagined something that could throw me off my axis and rock me to my core more than getting sick.

But my dad dying is that worse.  It didn’t directly happen to me, but it is the worst thing that could have happened.  If there is a worse than this, I don’t want to know about it.

And I’m really struggling.

I know that my body is going to rebel.  I know I am going to flare.  It’s not a matter of if, at this point, but when.

So while I try to work through my grief, anger, and everything else that comes with it, I sit here, waiting for the next storm to blow through.  Because I know that the next storm will be within me, not outside of me.

When I was growing up, I always got along better with adults than with kids my own age.

I’ve been called an old soul.

My RA diagnosis definitely brought that idea into reality.  And I think my dad’s death plays into that a little bit, too.

Things have been piled on my plate that no one should ever have to deal with, let alone someone my age.

And oddly enough, I guess I was under the naïve impression that because of everything I have had to deal with, with my health, that maybe I was immune to the other tragedies that can happen in life.

Maybe not immune forever, but immune for right now.

But I’ve learned that we are never immune.  No matter what you’ve been through, there can always be more, and there can always be worse.

So while I attempt to practice self care, it’s a little hard to just not care.

I don’t want to be dead.  That’s definitely not what I want.  But I want to withdraw from the world until someone understands my pain, illness and otherwise.

It seems like adding insult to injury.  I feel like I have been through a lot in the last several years.  I deserve a break from catastrophe.

Through all of this, I’ve learned that there are many people who have lost a parent at a young age.  For many of these people, I had no idea that they had lost a parent.  To me, they seemed so normal and well-adjusted that I could never have imagined them going through something like that.

Maybe someday, that will be me.

Right now I’m not okay.  Hopefully someday I will be.

But I never have been, and will never be, “too young for this”.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Rob
    5 years ago

    Hello Leslie,

    I just read your article and wanted to express my sympathies over the loss of your father. My father passed away unexpectedly in late September 2001 while on vacation with my mother. I was in my early 30’s then while he was in his late 60’s. Life has continued with its various ups and downs (mostly ups!), but I’ve found it difficult to leave that time completely behind me. I To help cope, I keep him in my thoughts as often as possible and spend as much time as I can with my mother. As time goes by I hope things get better for you and your family.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thank you Rob for sharing your story with me. It is always good to hear that life can move on in some ways after a tragedy like this. And I like your coping strategies.

  • Connie Rifenburg
    5 years ago

    I think of your age Leslie and wonder how I might have handled things too. I think I would have railed at life as you are doing.

    One lesson you have learned – the hard way – is life is just not fair. It’s not fair that this happened to you so young. It’s not fair that your dad died in a seemingly senseless way. It’s not fair that you must deal with this all at one time, knowing that stress will most probably cause a flare – and cause you yet another “thing” to deal with. Life simply isn’t dealt out in a “Fair” manner (whatever that might be).

    I’m glad that you are able to come here and express yourself so well. To tell someone how sad, angry, hurt, and lifeless you feel right now. I’m glad you have this outlet. It can be a lifeline to you as you have many people here to listen and care.

    It may sound wrong to you that “strangers” can care, but you have come to a place where there are people who have empathy and truly care for anyone who is or has suffered with the same disease we are experiencing.

    Strength can be drawn from those who have also lost a parent, I was also one who lost my dad at age 35. I’m 63 now, and still think of him regularly – with a little less hurt over time, a little more understanding that life goes on & time will move forward and, for me, the belief system of God in my life that I will see him again one day.

    As an ‘old soul’ (which I have been called too when I was young) we seem to have chosen a path in this life that for most, would be too agonizing to bear. But somehow, we gather strength, maybe learned from previous times, to go forward. Even so remember that each soul needs a time of rest too don’t be afraid to give that to yourself.

    May the LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Amen.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Connie, thank you so much for your kind words. I cannot begin to imagine what life would be like if I didn’t have the love and support of people like you, and others, as well. Sorry to hear that you lost your own father when you were young.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Connie, thank you so much for your kind words. I cannot begin to imagine what life would be like if I didn’t have the love and support of people like you, and others, as well.

  • Nan Hart moderator
    5 years ago

    Lesllie my deepest condolences and warm hugs go out to you! I lost my mom when I was in my early 30’s and I was devastated. Even though time calms the deep sorrow it does not erase it. There will always be a part of my heart that is missing. I have accepted that and embracing that reality actually eases the suffering over time. I can now think of my mom (20 years later!) and smile. I keep her alive in my thoughts and my heart and that also helps. I “talk” to her when the need arises and that too keeps her close. All of these startegies will slowly take hold for you and the legacy of your dad will rise to the top. All the best…Nan Hart

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Nan, thank you for your thoughts and kind words. Sorry to hear that you lost your mom when you were young.

  • June
    5 years ago

    Leslie, I’m so very very sorry for your loss, you are too young for this, but things get easier with time, not better, but easier. I lost my Dad 2 months after I got married he was just 48. The shock of his death brought on my RA ( not diagnosed until years later). But your Fathers love will always be with you, helping you get through the good times and the bad. I still think of my Dad everyday after 34 years I still miss him mourn him, but his love has made me strong as I’m sure your Dads love has made you. We are so lucky to have had good Fathers and good memories hang on to those. Blessing of love and light June

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    June, thank you for your kind words. I am sorry that we are both apart of the RA club and the losing-our-fathers-when-they/and we-are-young.

  • Kelly Mack moderator
    5 years ago

    Leslie, my heart goes out to you. Very sorry for your loss and all you have to manage on top of RA. It isn’t fair and it isn’t fun. Sending you warm thoughts and vibes of strength.

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