This article includes stories of people dealing with self-harm, suicide and other traumatic events which may be triggering to survivors.
The Hard Conversations
Our relationship with our parents is usually the first one in our lives. For most of us, they've been with us through it all. That can make telling them bad news or the fear of disappointing them difficult to overcome. But there are times you simply have to tell your parents the truth, even if it might hurt them.
Reddit user UnluckyOrganization asked "What is the hardest thing you've ever had to tell to your parents?"
Here are some of the stories people shared about difficult family discussions.
When I was in high school, I worked at a fast food place. I would offer a senior discount despite it not being asked for by the customer. I would then proceed to charge them the full rate of the order and pocket the discount. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I had enough money to purchase a new Sony PSP. I would do this on weekends for party money, gas money, because I thought I could get away with it.
One day, I came into work as normal. Was there for maybe an hour and then was pulled into the office.
My manager sent her husband through the drive thru to see if I would offer the discount unprovoked. I did. I was fired on the spot and told that the police would meet me at my house and that I should probably let my parents know before they get there. I proceeded to freak out and was inconsolable. Took me forever to get home even though I lived 5 minutes away.
I told my parents and was nervously waiting for the cops to show up. No cops ever came. My parents grounded me for the whole summer.
I am so grateful I was caught. I know it was something I would have continued to do if I wouldn't have been caught.
That their seemingly normal infant grandson had a terminal disorder and had maybe four years to live.
My ex and I of 10 years amicably split up 3 months before our wedding date. When we told my parents together, I'm 100% positive they were expecting us to tell them she was pregnant. Total shock from them.
Her parents knew we were having problems, they weren't surprised.
Mine, however, were blindsided.
That I had known for ten years about the half sibling I wasn't supposed to know about.
I was pretty broken up about it way back when my sister I grew up with spilled the beans. It took me so long to bring it up because at the time, she asked me not to tell our mother that she told me, and I didn't want to betray her.
I never made contact. I thought about it a lot, still do, but I've battled some serious depression in my life and if it went badly it might be bad for my mental health. So I let it be.
I had to call and tell them I had to put my University course on hold again because I tried to end my life again.
Didn't help that my parents didn't really believe in depression.
Mom, we're moving you out of your house into a home.
Loss of a Brother
My younger brother died in an accident and was missing for a couple days. My parents didn't know he was missing but his friends had contacted me out of state and pulled me into the loop and I was in touch with law enforcement.
When they called me in the middle of the night to tell me they had found his body, I waited until morning to call my dad and tell him and then he called my mom to tell her.
Waiting the 5 or so hours for it to be a reasonable hour (I hated the idea of waking him up with this news, I figured they may as well get a full night's rest before having to deal with everything), the wait was horrific. I just played and replayed in my head what to say and how he might react. It was bad.
Telling my parents I flunked out of college was the hardest thing for me. I was terrified for weeks.
I failed out of the 4-year school about 2 years ago. I had no real direction when I went to school, but I was told my entire life that I HAD to get a college degree to be successful, so I went right after high school. Attended for 3 years, I'd been on academic probation the last 3 semesters and finally suspended after that. I panicked so much about telling my parents why I wasn't going back. I actually applied to a different school to make them think I wanted to transfer, despite knowing there was no hope of that happening.
When I did finally tell them they were reasonably mad at me for lying to them. My dad gave me the cold shoulder for a few days, but he came back around. My mom was upset, but she took it better than dad it. The class I kept failing I took at a nearby tech school, where I saw they had a game development program. I'm now working retail full-time, paying down my loans, and going to school on the side. It's not where I thought I'd be, but I feel like I'm finally on the right track.
Loss of a Grandchild
My younger sister's husband called me on my birthday to tell me that the baby that my sister, his wife, was carrying had died in utero. He asked me in between sobs to call my parents because my sister wanted everyone to come to the hospital before she was put into induced labor to give birth to her stillborn daughter.
So I called my parents, who were in a cafe. First thing my Mum said, naturally (considering what day it was), was 'Happy Birthday, Janie!'
There was no way to break the news nicely, so I just told her that my sister and sister's husband's baby had been stillborn and we were all to meet them at the hospital. I'll never forget the sounds of my Mum wailing with heartbreak in our local cafe.
Definitely coming out to them. That was a painful experience. They didn't react in a blatantly negative manner, they rather went with the always-so-healthy route of denial.
At the age of 14 hearing "you'll grow out of it" was tough. Telling them 10 yrs later that no I actually hadn't "grown out of it", to be faced with more denial, was quite the experience.
It can take time. My dad basically went through all the stages of grief in about a week. My mom was just upset that she never saw it coming.
My boyfriend's dad took 6 years. From "if you get a boyfriend, I'll literally kill him" to acceptance.
Most people get there in the end.
Loss of a Sister
One morning I got a call from a police officer who told me the that my sister was found dead in her apartment and that she apparently died of an overdose. She was living in another city and I hadn't spoken to her for 2 or 3 weeks. We knew she was addicted but went through recovery and was doing fine, back in her job and had her life on track for nearly a year.
I can't even remember the words or what exactly he told me because it swept me right off my feet. I just told him to hold on, please hold on I need to find a chair and suddenly my husband was there and talking to the man on the phone.
I then had to tell my parents. We drove over and my mother was alone in the kitchen and I internally screamed because my dad wasn't there. He had a small workshop and went there in the morning. So I told my mother and she just dropped onto the floor with the most horrific scream I ever heard from my mom. I then walked over to the workshop because I didn't want to tell my dad over the phone. I just said her name and he knew, he f'ing knew right away and he just held me while we both cried and then we went back to my mom.
Yeah that was a real shitty day. It's been 7 years since I lost my sister and I still go through severe depression the weeks leading up to the date of her death.
To my widowed mom: that if she didn't start using the internet safely (she fell victim to romance scams twice) and stop sending money she doesn't have to strangers online (she's definitely on a fixed income), I'd get power of attorney over her and her finances. Sucks having to parent your parent.
Dealing With It In Their Own Way
When my best friend begged me to tell my parents what I'd done, I went to their room at 2am and they were awake and just looked at me, of course they knew something was wrong.
Telling my dad I had overdosed in a suicide attempt was literally the hardest thing to ever tell anyone. He didn't even react much, just went silent and drove me to hospital.
On the drive over I think he started talking about how painful it would be to die of liver failure. He's autistic and probably had no idea what was the right thing to say. I remember being awfully nauseous in hospital and he just told me that he loved me unconditionally, so that was really nice.
He definitely tried to be there for me in the days and weeks after it happened without being overly nosy or making me uncomfortable so I really appreciate the way he handled it.
Our parents gave up on being grandparents, but then we announced my wife was pregnant.
The next day she had a miscarriage.
Death in the Family
I had to call my Mom and tell her I found my Dad dead. Had to call a few family members and tell them that.
My father was sick and had multiple illnesses, one of which was cancer for which he needed chemotherapy. The hospital in the town/city he lived in did not administer that type of chemo, so he was sent to another hospital in a larger city. The hospital was quite a distance from his home, so we flew there and stayed in a hotel during his treatment. My brother and I had been rotating about every three weeks to stay with him and help him out as we lived half way across the country from him.
My brother and I were making the transition and my brother left to go back home that evening. I worked that night from the hotel while watching over my Dad and things went surprisingly well. I wrapped up work for the night and he and I went to bed.
I woke up in the morning to find my father had passed away in his sleep. When I woke up, I just knew he was gone. I could not tell you what it was but something in me just knew he had died. He was a DNR and I had been present when he had that conversation with his doctors, so I know even if I had been awake when he took his last breaths, there really was nothing I could have done in good conscience.
I called 911 as I wasn't sure what else to do. Paramedics responded and pronounced him at the scene. Police arrived about the same time and being the last one to see him and having been in the same room when he died, the police treated it as an investigation. They were very apologetic about having to do that, but I didn't blame them as they didn't know me and obviously had no clue if I might have done something suspicious. I started making calls while they were documenting the room. Between questions from police I was making calls to my brother, my mother, my wife, and my sister in law.
It is a feeling I can't describe other than to call it soul crushing, but calling a loved one knowing you are going to destroy their world is awful. The local PD was very helpful and even offered to contact the PDs where my loved ones were to send local police officers to break the news, but I felt it should come from me, not a random officer. Hearing that "hello" when your loved one picked up the phone was horrifying as I knew what I was going to say next was going to bring them down.
Making those 4 phone calls, knowing what the result will be for the person on the other end of the phone.
Long Distance Love
This happened when I was 23, and had recently moved back in with my parents.
That I had met someone in a different state and was going to fly there to meet him after only a month of talking, texting, and video chatting. I lived in Oregon and he lived about 760 miles away in California. We met through eharmony. My dad was convinced that the day I left for the airport was going to be the last day he saw his daughter alive. I gave my parents all my flight info, the make and model of his vehicle, his cellphone number, a picture of him, and the license plate of his car. I was trying to be smart with a potentially unsmart decision.
About 8 months after that, I had to tell my parents that I was moving to California to live with him. It was perfect timing in my life and I felt like it was something I just had to do. My parents helped move me down to California and finally got to meet him. They did not agree with my decision but were still supportive.
We got married in October and are expecting our first child in a few weeks. He also has a really good relationship with my parents. He is always asking my dad for advice and my dad finally has the son that he has always wanted.
That I had cancer. I live overseas and I know how much my parents miss me, I can only imagine how they felt while I was 10,000 miles away battling it.
I tried to be super positive about it. Mom only wanted to hear as much as was necessary, Dad kept on talking about all the ways I could die or what could go wrong (his way of working out a situation).
I shared it with my mom first whose first concern was that they weren't present enough and made me feel I was battling it on my own, but I assured her that they were the most supportive parents and did everything they could given the distance.
Cancer free for six months now though! I love them a whole lot.