Dealing with Grief

Dealing with Grief

Healing takes time.
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It was 2013 and I had just transferred to a state university from out of state. I just felt like I needed to go home, but also my mom told me I had to come home. Well, that was a year that completely changed my life. At the tail end of February, I lost my paternal grandfather. He was a really quiet guy, always wanting to learn, a retired Navy man and career Police Officer. I didn’t get to see him much when I was younger, but when I did, I knew he loved me. I took his passing in stride, but I just couldn't shake the grief that I should have seen him more. It really hurt! That semester was the worst semester I had ever had in my college career. I still went to class and work, but I wasn’t present. My Grandma Gray, who I was really close died that August. Exactly 6 months to the week her husband had passed. Then, I could feel my world collapsing. I didn't know how to deal with grief.

My Grandma Gray had been a foundation pillar in my life as was my other grandmas. She was actually really good friends with my other grandmothers and I was always surrounded with love. I had been spending more time with her and calling her because I missed her and I had moved back to the area. We had great talks and would watch old western movies. She would ask me how my violin career was coming. She had gotten really sick, and one Sunday afternoon, I was on my way to see her in the hospital and she passed before I could get to her. I was devastated! My whole world came to a halt. I didn't want to practice, write, sing, or even smile. I hated going to work, I was barely eating, and I was silent. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything. I was just surviving. My other grandmothers came to my aid and tried to help, but it wasn't the same and I couldn’t shake the feeling. My friends didn't really know what to say to me, and at first I was hurt, but I knew they didn't know what say or how to help me. I needed to heal!

So, after feeling horrible for a few months and not even celebrating my birthday. I needed a change. One thing my grandmother taught me was not to be sad for a long time because it was not healthy. The world was going to keep on moving even if I didn’t. I changed my hair, looked for a new job, began practicing again, becoming more spiritually aware, and I took time to do things I like. However, by the time I started making the changes to heal myself it had almost been a whole year! I had lost lots of time, fallen behind in college by not going, I was working full-time in another preschool as a teacher, started talking with my friends again, and I was finding different playing opportunities in the Washington DC area.

I was always the person whose family members and friends leaned on for support and understanding, but where does the person doing the supporting go. I decided to try and do 100 days of something I wanted to do. I practiced, caught up with friends, sang, watch the sunrise over the Potomac River, spent time with family, and learned how to say "no" when I already had too much to do. The little changes took at least a year and a half to really help me deal with the grief. I even changed universities and moved to Richmond, Va. I allow myself a time to feel sad and now I know that I can do things allow me to grieve healthier. In May of 2016 my Great Grandmother Frances passed at the age of 96. I had known it was coming and I was prepared. I knew how to handle it, and I was able to move past her death without my world crumbling at my feet.

Each person grieves, but every day it gets a little bit better. You have to be willing to move past the pain, work on things that make you have, and understand that it will take time to move on after a loved one's death. There are days where everything will remind you of that person you missed and loved the most, but dealing with the pain and grief will make you stronger for the next time because there will always be a next time. That's life!

In memory of Albertha Gray 1951-2013

Cover Image Credit: JC Findley

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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You Don't Have To See Your Friends Every Day

We all have lives that we're trying to balance.

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For as long as I can remember, whenever I would have no plans and go on Snapchat to see all my friends having fun without me, I would get FOMO. I'd get really sad and think that they didn't care about me because they didn't invite me. It would get me in such a bad mood that it would ruin any chance of going out with someone else who wanted to hang out.

I don't know if it was just my anxiety of people hating me or if it was a fear of missing out (FOMO). Even recently, it has gotten me down. However, over the past month or so, I finally realized something: you don't have to hang out every day to still consider each other friends.

Everyone has a life that they're trying to balance, especially after high school. People work (maybe even more than one job) and go to school. Some have to take care of family members or do things for their family. Some people are focusing on themselves. Some have relationships to maintain. Whatever it is, we all have lives that we're trying to balance.

We all want to have fun, but school, work, and our families are the priorities.

Even if they're out hanging with other people, it doesn't mean that they don't want to hang out with you. Free time is served on a "first come, first serve" basis. It's hard to balance hanging out with multiple people.

I also learned that it doesn't matter the number of friends you have. What truly matters is the quality. Ask yourself, "Who's there for me when I really need someone?" The people who are there for you when you really need someone to talk to are your TRUE friends.

It's not easy to be there for someone and make them feel better. If they offer to listen or give advice, they care!

I know that it may feel like you have no friends sometimes, but that's not true. Life after high school is hard at times. You're an adult. You have to do adult things and take care of yourself first.

You have to realize that everyone has a busy schedule and not all your friends' schedules will align with yours, but that's okay! You don't need to hang out with friends every day to consider them your friends. What truly matters is if they are there for you when you need them.

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