Meet: Jessica Petersen

A Story of Grief @jessfpetersen

“I am a married mom of three kids – Sadie, Colin and Elise. My husband Brian and I have been married for 11 years, but have known each other since we were kids. I work in media relations for Lifeline of Ohio and consider it a privilege to work in the field of organ, eye and tissue donation. I am also the #1 Button Artist in the state of Ohio….so there’s that.

I’m young – 38. And I don’t have living parents anymore. I’m an orphan and I, of course, hate it. My friends have parents, why did mine have to die so young?

The Backstory…..

In 2013, my dad passed away just four days after I told him that I was pregnant with my third child. He was in the hospital in Tennessee and I thought by telling him, it would brighten his day – and it did. I thought he was going to get better, so when I got the call four days later that he passed, it was traumatic to say the least. He was 59.

A few months later, my mom’s breast cancer advanced to stage four. The cancer that was originally located only in her breast broke off and traveled to her bones, spine, liver and brain. After a long, hard road with breast cancer, she passed away at age 53 on September 3, 2013.

And my third child was born just 13 days later on September 16.

One of the weird things is that I didn’t know the gender of my baby. So in my head, I could name it after either of my dead parents – middle name Raymond if it would have been a boy or middle name Kimberly if it was a girl.

Turns out, my mom “won” and Elise Kimberly was named.

I hate that this is my story, but I try to not let that get me down. I realize there are other moms out there that have lost a parent, or like me, both of them. We are young. We are trying to do our best for our families. We are aching for our parents.

I often wonder to myself, does not having living parents make me less of a mom? My children will never see me interact with my parents. It’s weird to think about. I saw how my grandparents shaped my parents – my children will never have that knowledge.

When it’s all said and done, I still have a lot to learn and “no one” to learn from. Every day I push through the inevitable emotions and try to remember my parents and talk about them to my kids. My kids know more about death than the average bears, and that’s okay. It has to be.

This is the tattoo I just got on my wrist – “Love” is in my dad’s writing and “you” is in my mom’s.

It sucks not having anyone to talk to about both of their parents being dead. I feel like a teenager phrasing it that way, but not having living parents is sucky and isolating. It would be nice to connect with others in this great city who are in the same situation I’m in.”

~Jessica Petersen

  • Laura Dunaj
    Posted at 20:00h, 06 September Reply

    Can relate to your story, although there were 9 years between losing my mom (when I was 27) and my dad (when I was 36). My daughter was 2 and my son 8 when my mother passed which, I’m sure, affected the way I parented. Dad wasn’t much help on the advice front because he worked and mom took care of my sister and I when we were growing up. My neighbors, (whose children were older than mine), stepped in when I needed advice letting me know that most…if not all…of my parenting worries were normal. They were a Godsend! I’m 46 years old now and my children are grown. I still cry, still grieve for my parents. I kid with my husband (who still has both of his parents…82 and 80 years of age) that I am an orphan, but it’s true. I feel alone at times am angry at those who still have the luxury of having their parents around. However, I pick myself up at those low times and move on. As my mom used to say, “Just when you think you have it bad, someone else has it worse.” She finds a way of reminding me of that time and again.

    • columbusstories
      Posted at 08:43h, 09 September Reply


      We are sorry for your loss–Thank you so much for opening up and sharing a part of your story with us.

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