How Losing My Father At A Young Age Shaped My Views As A Woman

by Shelby Unger

Hands down, one of the worst things we all inevitably have to endure in life is losing somebody close to us.

It’s a surreal feeling. It's life-altering, honestly.

This experience came unnaturally early for me when I lost my dad at 9 years old.

The man was the vision of health, but he was diagnosed with cancer and gone six months later.

At the time, life seemed like it would never move at a normal speed again.

Everything was in slow motion. My mother was left to pick up the pieces of our now two-person home.

Life is weird, death is weird and having to maintain your life when someone so important to you vanishes is weird.

Life eventually picked up normal pace again, the world still spinning on its axis.

Now, 12 years after my father’s death, it’s interesting to reflect on my own life and how I’ve been constructed as a woman due to the extreme loss of such a huge male figure at such a young age.

At 9 years old, you're barely grasping long division, let alone the meaning of life and how current events will affect you in the long run.

So here I am, 22 years old, still barely able to grasp long division.

But I'm much more equipped to look back at what has been thrown my way and how that has shaped me as a woman in this world.

A father dying presents you with the ultimate set of daddy issues.

You’re lost, confused and no longer have the nuclear family unit all your peers do.

My family life was, and will forever be, unconventional since the day my dad died.

But in many ways, it has completely shaped who I am and the course of my life I’ve chosen to take up until this point.

My relationships from that point on shifted and grew, and my interactions with those around me changed immensely.

I like to think in every situation of loss, some sort of growth can be found.

In my case, it has been how I allow myself to thrive as a woman in this world.

Here are the two most vital takeaways of how losing my dad, as a woman, massively changed my relationships in life:

1. My Relationships With Other Women

Something beautiful that came out of a time of such extreme loss was my relationship with my mother.

My mom is my best friend.

I strongly and whole-heartedly believe my relationship with my mom would be so much different if my dad was alive.

It wouldn't be any worse or better, just different.

Out of every tragedy there must be a small sliver of light, right? In this case, it’s my mom.

Being constantly surrounded by such a Type A, strong and passionate woman has directly affected me.

I would never have the ability to be as independent and have such a lust for life if it wasn’t for the strong role my mom has played.

This woman, who was forced to pick up the pieces for not only herself, but another human, is such a model for how I want to live my life as a woman in a man’s world.

This relationship and confidence my mother has instilled in me through watching her deal with the loss of my dad has given me a beautiful outlook on my relationships with other women around me.

Ladies, respect each other. Appreciate each other. Praise each other.

We get enough scrutiny from this male-centric world.

You never know what adversities other women are facing. Be kind to each other.

2. My Expectations Of The Men In My Life

Ladies, never stop expecting excellence from any man who walks into your life.

The idea of having daddy issues has become such a widespread excuse and justification for women to fall into men who treat them like absolute sh*t.

Please stop falling into this trap now.

If a man is not giving you 100 percent, he is not 100 percent invested in you.

Drop his sorry ass.

I’ve been fortunate enough to not only experience one amazing father figure, but two.

My dad was incredible, and my stepfather has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.

Having these two examples has stopped me from ever using the lack of a conventional father figure as a crutch for failed relationships or half-assed boyfriends.

I know everyone has not been as lucky to have these strong male role models in his or her life.

But I can promise mine have been equally as unconventional.

Only let the people who will enrich your soul enter your life.

I strongly believe the more you expect from people, the more you get from them. Never settle for the sake of finding love.

You deserve and will receive greatness.

It is important to remember that through even the most devastating losses, something always tends to flourish.

The loss of my loved one is so substantial, it paves the way for growth in every other relationship I will continue to have for the rest of my life.

The takeaway here is this: Do not let your experiences define you.

Let them influence and empower your decision-making and create the path for the rest of your wonderful life.