Dismay for Certain Students as Graduation Approaches

23 03 2011

The University at Albany will see roughly 3200 students from 25 departments walk across the Entry Plaza Lawn come May 15, families and friends cheering.

Two students who will have no one to watch them march are Adam Brown and Hal Halper, both 22.

An estimated one in ten people will lose a parent by the time they are 25. By UAlbany enrollment figures, that’s a potential 1,300 of our peers suffering such a tragedy.

Brown, right, with his brother Mike and their Mom several years ago

Brown’s mother Lynn, 59, died suddenly last August– less than three weeks before Brown was to leave for a year abroad in Japan.

At 11:16 on a Saturday morning his brother called. “I remember his exact words,” Brown recalls.  “‘Adam, I cannot believe I have to do this over the phone. I am so sorry I cannot be with you to tell you in person and cry together. Mom’s gone. Tara found her this morning in bed and she’s gone.’”

Debra Umberson, a professor of Sociology at the University of Texas-Austin, has studied the dynamics of family loss extensively. Her 2006 article, “Parents, Adult Children, and Immortality,” published in Contexts Magazine, states “the death of a parent is the most common form of bereavement in adulthood,” and that several survey takers felt the moment they lost their parent was the first time they “achieved true adult status.”

Hal with his mom in 2009

Halper has experienced this loss twice.

While a senior in high school back in Brooklyn, Halper’s father suffered a massive heart attack overnight. He was 79.
Roused by his distraught mother at 6am, Halper checked to see if his dad was breathing at all. “We both knew that he passed in his sleep,” he remembers. “It was horrifying, but we grew closer than ever from that and we had the best five years… really appreciating each other after the loss of my father.”

This fall, just one month after being diagnosed with an advanced form of Leukemia, and just two days before Thanksgiving, Halper’s mother Janet, 75, died.

It is particularly difficult to reconcile the fact that so many college students are not as independent from their families as they believe themselves to be. Twentysomethings like Brown and Miller are still finding their way as adults. Most would be shocked by the adversity Brown and Miller are now grappling with.

Brown was the primary caregiver to his mother, who was disabled, for 14 years. He was also named executor of her will. There was money left for him, but not nearly enough to cover everything. Brown, who previously worked part-time as a pharmacy technician, took a second job as a surgical associate at St. Peter’s Hospital in order to pay off the some $20,000 of expenses. “I temporarily withdrew from school to deal with my mother’s estate and the bills that needed to be paid,” he explains.

Brown admits that his academic ambitions were hampered by the passing of his mom. “I have trouble finding the drive to keep going in school because I know that I won’t have her here to make proud.”

He completed his coursework in Human Biology last year, but is only partway through his degree in Japanese language studies. Brown expects that graduation, whenever it may be in the future, “will make me feel as though I lost her all over again. She was so excited to see me walk, to see me be the only one of her children to graduate from college. Now I won’t have that.”

Halper, on the other hand, has thrown himself into various commitments at the University. Seven classes, three theater productions (including the upcoming Cabaret), and honor society serve as distraction from his still fresh wounds.

“My mother always said, ‘Life is ten percent of what happens and ninety percent of how you react to it,’” he says emphatically. “I am trying to chose to have more good [days] than bad.”

Halper is dejected thinking of the milestones his parents are going to miss. Most of all, he says, “I wanted my parents to be there to baby-sit… To tell my children stories of our family history, which I always loved to listen to myself.”

It is often said that death brings people together– but Brown and Halper have experienced the opposite.

Brown, the youngest of five, has also dealt with changes to his relationships with his siblings Mike, Matt, Shannon and Taralyn, since the loss of their mother. Communication broke down amongst the five of them, but Brown and his brother Mike have made the effort to speak daily, “because we feel as though we are all we have left in terms of family.”

Halper is currently at odds with his (much) older siblings, Arnel and Laura, who are trying to undermine their late mother’s wishes and close Hal out of any inheritance. “I will not be attending family holidays. I don’t want anything to do with them,” he decided. “I have my chosen family who care for me a trillion times more than my own blood.”

Holding on to the memory of their late mothers has gotten them through the most emotional time in their short lives, but both Brown and Halper acknowledge that this kind of loss is not one that will fade.

“It is [a] lasting pain I deal with all the time,” Brown says. “She was the reason I woke up in the morning. And when I lost her, I felt as though I had nothing to keep going for.”

“I have had a great life and am forever grateful for the privileges, but I would give up money, appearance, success and whatever else for my mother back.” Halper confesses. “I think that grief can last a lifetime, but I hope it doesn’t.”

 

Advertisements

Actions

Information

15 responses

29 03 2011
Trisha Polsky

very nice publish, i certainly love this website, carry on it

30 03 2011
Flor Plitt

An attention-grabbing discussion is price comment. I feel that you must write more on this matter, it won’t be a taboo subject but generally persons are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

24 04 2011
James

Please remove this article. It is one sided and inacurate. Statements made by Hal Halper are false. It takes away from the truee struggles of the other student. As a journalist, you should investigate the facts before publishing. Hal has a history of mental problems including Syzophrenia like his REAL Mom. Yes, he was adopted. He failed to mention this as well as other things we were told by him. He scammed you for sympathyand is spreading that rumor. The Halper’s always took care of Hl and provided for him.
Thanks You,

An Interested SUNY Student

8 02 2013
stripperin porno

You need to take part in a contest for one of the greatest websites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this website!

31 07 2013
buy instagram followers

Really enjoyed this one

Nothing like a well written bit of information to set you in the right direction

6 08 2013
Spring Decoration

I could not resist commenting. Well written!

19 08 2013
http://bedavamp3.free.fr/

Hello there, I found your web site via Google while
searching for a related subject, your website got here
up, it seems great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
Hello there, just was aware of your weblog thru Google, and found that it is really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you happen to
continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.
Cheers!

20 08 2013
English Style Home

I could not resist commenting. Well written!

28 08 2013
Paradigm Fitness Treadmill

I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now 😉

1 09 2013
healthy foods

You’ve made some really good points there. I looked on the net for more info about the issue
and found most individuals will go along with your views on
this site.

2 09 2013
film streaming

…Trackback: More Informations on that topic

[…]The overall look of your website is excellent, let neatly as the content material![…]

15 04 2014
mini mobile games

Greetings from Florida! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.
I love the info you present here and can’t wait to take a
look when I get home. I’m surprised at how quick
your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just
3G .. Anyhow, awesome blog!

22 07 2014
clash of clans

Hello! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask.
Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?
My site goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours
and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email.

I look forward to hearing from you! Superb blog by the
way!

18 09 2014
42 inch tv Dvd Combo

Thanks very interesting blog!

7 10 2014
http://youtube.com/

What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It positively helpful
and it has helped me out loads. I’m hoping to give a
contribution & help different users like its helped me.
Great job.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: