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Life Lessons: Surviving the loss of a parent

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 17 2014 04:00:00 AM CDT

One in 10 kids in the U.S. under 16 loses a parent each year, but there's not a lot of online support for teens.

Genevieve Liu's dad died two years ago, rescuing two boys from Lake Michigan.

"My dad pushed the two of them back into shore, but 20 minutes went [by] and eventually his body came back," Liu explained. "He drowned."

She said she lost the one person who understood her most and she's never felt so alone.

"There are so many people out there who have lost a parent at a young age, but yet you feel like the only person in the entire world who it’s ever happened to," Liu said.

One in 10 kids in the U.S. under 16 loses a parent each year, but Genevieve said you'd never know it.

She said she looked online for support and found only medical and religious advice, and some blog posts. So, the 14-year-old took matters into her own hands.

She founded the nonprofit organization: Surviving Life After a Parent Dies, or SLAPD.

"I just came up with it because with the situation, as cliché as it sounds, you’re just sort of slapped in the face," Liu said. "I mean you're totally caught off guard. It’s like the floor has come out beneath you and you don't know what to do."

SLAPD is based on five components: an interactive forum, articles, interviews, ask an expert, and a tribute page.

“It's a community where teens can go and realize that you're not alone in this situation," Liu said.

Fourteen-year-old Isabel Levin, a friend and contributor, said she's found a lot of comfort in SLAPD since her mom died of cancer three years ago.

"It makes you feel [I'm] part of a club or a community rather than alone,” said Levin.

The girls know nothing can bring their parents back, but at least having a place to keep their memories alive will help them move on with their own lives.