Dear High School Senior: Your Mom is Grieving Too

Dear High School Senior,

There are probably a lot of emotions running through you right now. At some point in the not-too-distant-past, you felt a jolt of electricity when the announcement first hit – school was cancelled for two weeks. Although there were other important milestones that fell to the friendly fire, they were usually accompanied with terms like “postponed” and “rescheduled.” As the days mounted but before the Netflix shows became stale, those words morphed into one reverberating clanging – “cancelled.”

The mourning began. There’s a prom dress that is still veiled in its plastic sheath. There are cleats in the closet that have barely pierced the grass. But there was one that you kept up home of adorning – your graduation robes. For some schools, it’s a white dress or a suit. For others, it’s a robe emblematic of your school’s colors. For some it’s a neatly pressed uniform. Whatever you were supposed to drape over your shoulders or pin to the top of your head will remain behind your closet door with the rest of your academic year.

You have every reason to be upset. The parties, the pomp, the circumstance – it’s all a right of passage that nearly every adult in your life has taken a part in. This was taken away from you not by a government, not by a school administrator, but by a freak event no collective memory can empathize with you. The loss of the end of your senior year is a loss no matter what anyone says. You can grieve for it because it is now and will continue to be an important part of your life as it is an important part of everyone’s lives. It’s unfair. It sucks. Do you hear me? It sucks.

But I write to you now so that when you take your entitled time to grieve, to look back at your mom. As she reads the governor’s orders, she will need a hug too.

From the moment you were born, she was told, “the days are long, but the years are short.” She whispered that phrase to herself as she had you laid over her shoulder, wobbling and weaving from one foot to another to get you to sleep. On your first birthday, she spent way too much money on things you don’t remember like high-chair fringe and a small cake that you showed no interest in. But she knew that, “the days are long, but the years are short.” She drove you to your practices at the crack of dawn and then stayed up late at night cleaning your foul uniforms. When you got your blue ribbons, she was proud. When you had your first heart break, she stomped around her bedroom in anger. When you got your college acceptance letter, she wrapped her arms around your grown-up body, shouting happy congratulations, but really thinking, “the days are long, but the years are short.”

In your memories, you see your parents as bystanders in the great milestones of your life. As a matter of fact, they were able to stand by and celebrate after long periods of planning, sacrifice, and personal struggle. The last two months of your senior year were no doubt showered in parties, end-of-the-year banquets, ceremonies, and, lastly, graduation. Each of those necessitated some large degree of planning whether it be dress code, carpooling, invitations, or little trays of foods to have out at your house afterwards. All of this usually goes unnoticed. In the excitement, we tend to overlook that which moms are best at – making sure everything is taken care of.

Your mom is probably disappointed that the trays of food she ordered won’t be eaten. She’s probably upset the fiesta-themed decorations she pinned on Pinterest won’t come to fruition. But what she is most upset over is that this is one thing that her child wants, deserves, and earned but cannot have. No matter how hard she fights, she will not be able to fix this for you the way she desperately wants to. It’s every scraped knee and broken friendship over your life compounded in a huge pile of grief. And when you look over your shoulder to other family members — dads, grandparents, step-parents, all of the sentiments I expressed above are the same. They too were there for all of the highs and lows. They too are struggling. High school graduation is one of the last individual accomplishments that are earned on the back of your family, whatever that family structure may look like.

So, take heart. You’ll continue to be stuck inside. Your visions of the end of your high school career are shattered. You’re devastated, and that’s ok. Like your mom told herself, “the days are long, but the years are short,” this too shall pass. Just remember that while those long days are surely to be filled with heartbreak, they can also be filled with mutual healing. You might think she just doesn’t understand, but she does. She might not show the way that you want because she’s trying to hold it all together.

Congrats, Senior. And congrats, Mom. You did it too, and I couldn’t be prouder.


  1. Angelle, thank you! Massachusetts’ governor announced today that the school buildings will not reopen this year. It’s been a very difficult day for me. My daughter, my youngest, is part of the Class of 2020. Thank you for honoring the moms who have dedicated their lives to their children over the last 18+ years and who are hurting. I wish you peace!

  2. I miss the mundane routines of having a kid in school. I miss the disappointment of him never eating my lunches, his miserable mood at 7AM, the joy on his face when he had baseball and his weekly calls to dismiss him from school!
    I knew it was coming to an end. I knew this chapter was closing. But now it’s arrived sooner and without all the fanfare.
    Those are my losses, trivial at best. But my heart aches more for my senior.His losses are remarkable.
    I am not negating the losses of all of us or the magnitude of this pandemic. I’m just saying I miss what was and what should have been.
    As for others whose loss is not similar, know that we all are suffering. My suffering is not like yours or bigger or smaller but it’s mine and this article is helping me with it. If doesn’t help you, move along.

  3. I think the word “grief” is an inappropriate term for this article. You parents have only lost what was to be a graduation celebration. If you all want to know what the word grief really means how about your only child not graduating his senior year because some POS decided to go out in a shooting spree one night and shot your only child while trying to rob him. That’s grief kissing your only child, no senior pictures , no prom, no graduation, no starting college, never getting to see him get married, never getting to see him have children , or me having grandkids. You all should be thankful your kids are still here. The only thing you all are missing is an event , I’m missing the rest of my life . Think parents what’s really important!! Pass it on!!!

    • Respectfully, we still GRIEVE! Im so very sorry for what happened to your child! You would surely feel the same as we do because you love them so deeply to the core of your being. when they hurt, you hurt. please don’t treat us as if we don’t get it. WE GET IT! respectfully, you have no place to minimize our experiences.

    • Totally agree…..let’s grow up, be less self involved and dramatic and be happy to be alive. I bet all the guys who missed graduation because they got shipped off to Vietnam weren’t grieving…. pissed and scared maybe but…. Let’s get some perspective here.

    • Totally agree! I thought maybe I was just having guilty thoughts.. NO! I’m sick of the damn whining! It’s not the end of their road. They get to experience weddings and births and everything else!!! So ya cry on someone else

  4. …. just like the schools taught them….
    This article clear displays it….
    Your Dad doesn’t matter… he had dreams and hopes for you too… he was looking forward as well… but this article forgot that…. just like they taught you…. I hope you don’t forget, who was there every weekend, for all the practices and who worked so you could participate… he had dreams and hopes for you too

    • Hi. I’m the author. This article is written for a mom website. I try to stick to that audience because that Is the mission of the website. That being said, I DID talk about other family members. Please be kind. Let’s spread peace and love and not hatred. I am a person just as you are.

      • Any other name can be substituted for Mom!
        This is an amazing article whoever is featured! For me, that’s Nana!❤️❤️❤️❤️

  5. Wow, well I get being disappointed about PARTIES but better to celebrate graduating later and be alive now I would say. Let’s get our priorities straight shall we? Grieving good grief……

  6. Dear Angelle, this is a powerful and beautiful piece that will bring comfort to many who are feeling sorrowful or sad* over missing this part of their lives. Yes, thankfully, they will have another chance to toss those hats in the air, but that does not diminish their sense of loss. It does not need to be set alongside of greater tragedies that we can all think of. I am reading this as a great aunt, and it touched my heart deeply as it will so many others. Thank you.
    *definition of grief

  7. Our son has worked on a straight A’s for the past 4 years, and has enlisted to be a Marine. Graduation, he would of been draped with the Marian sash across his shoulders and we would’ve been proud to say he will be fighting for all Americans. He will be leaving June 15th and my family who will not be able to say goodbye to him, dont know when they will be able to hug him or look at him. We dont know if ever we will see him again. Graduation we would of been celebrating not only his graduation , of his achievement, but would be saying good bye, thank you and praying for his safe return. We love you Wood

  8. I’m not a mother nor do i have a child graduating. Great article, great message. I’m passing it along to my community of 11 seniors who as an alumni love them Just as much. Thank you

  9. Beautifully written. Yes, there are tragedies all around us every day, but that should never negate the feelings of a mom who is having a hard time seeing her senior lose out on his rights of passage. For me, he is my first born. I am so very proud of him and wanted to have his many accomplishments celebrated as they should be. No one knows what life will bring and so it is truly wrong of someone to say that our hurts do not compare to their hurts. Life is short. Any one of us could lose a child. Let’s let everyone have their own emotions over this epidemic that we are all grieving and have no control over. God bless all the senior moms out there.

  10. Its ashame that these young lady’s and young man can not endure the pleasure of seeing them selves in their cap and gowns on graduation day. I feel as tho they show give them a graduation in June. This is traditionally the month that it is supposed to happen. So please give this to them. They all deserve it. It’s their last year.


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