An Open Letter To The Grieving Family Member

An Open Letter To The Grieving Family Member

You will conquer this battle, I believe in you.

JD Hall
JD Hall
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It is okay to not be okay.

You are going through one of the worst experiences in your life, and you have to recover at your own pace. Below, I attached my testimony in hopes that any shred of my experience can help you through your loss.

Everything is going phenomenal. You have good grades, spectacular friends, and are living life to the fullest. Then it happens, the worst day of your life. For me this day was getting the call at midnight that my sister had passed away in a horrific car wreck. In the hours to come you see and experience so many things that you have never imagined you would.

Both your parents crying, at the same time: This is one of the worst parts about the whole experience, knowing your family is hurting and knowing that there is nothing you can do about it. As someone who comes from a decently reserved family when it comes to emotions, it was incredibly difficult to watch the life that my entire family knew to fall apart. While the emotion is uncomfortable and may cause tension, I can not stress to you how important it is to work through your emotions as they arise. If you bottle up your feelings towards the issue it only gets worse, trust me, I know.

Guilt, a pang of undeniable guilt, about something that you have absolutely no control over: For me, this was the worst part of the whole experience. I had an unmistakable feeling that no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, nothing would bring my loved sister back. While grief counseling can help some, the only way that I found to get through it was simply praying and looking to my friends and loved ones for help.

People coming together despite their differences: While death is something that is difficult to deal with, and it can be hard to find any clarity in the situation, I try to find positives in every situation. For me, the one positive outcome of my loss is the fact that everyone in my family, extended family, and community were willing to set aside differences in order to maintain the grieving process.

So what now? A week or two has passed by and the tears keep coming. Everything seems lost and your life is at a standstill because you do not know how to move on. For everyone, the outcome of a situation such as death looks different. As for me, I found solitude in my passions. I did a tremendous amount of exercising, spending time with friends, and going to school events. For months people will apologize for your loss and every time they do it will bring back memories.

It is okay to ask for help. In my situation, I had tried and tried to fight my battle with grief silently for months, but nothing was improving. I was lucky enough to have a close friend and educator of mine who had gone through a similar situation a few years prior. I can not even count the number of times I ended up in that teacher's room at 6:30 in the morning before practice, crying. Find your people. Reach out to someone, because you do not have to face this alone.

Just remember that as meek and grim as the situation looks, tomorrow will always be a better day. You will find a new sense of normal at your own pace, and that is okay.

Sincerely,

A friend that has gone through a similar situation

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Friendly Reminder To Give Your Parents A Break, Because They Make Mistakes Just Like Us

As far as I was concerned, the birth of my parents coincided with my own.

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As children, there is a very obvious fact concerning our parents that we either consciously ignore or, in most cases, are completely oblivious to. And this fact is that our parents are, like everyone else, only human.

Up until recently, I never thought about who my parents were before they became "Mom" and "Dad." As far as I was concerned, the birth of my parents coincided with my own. And in becoming parents, I thought they were immediately bestowed with all of the powers that came with that grandiose title: unparalleled bravery and wisdom, unwavering patience and confidence, unrivaled strength and leadership.

Throughout my whole life, I have unfairly and unreasonably held them to these impossible standards of perfection, and when they failed to meet them, I blamed them for their shortcomings: whenever they would raise their voice at me, I blamed them for being mean. Whenever they refused to let me go out with my friends at night, I blamed them for being unfair. Whenever they couldn't offer me the "right" advice for my petty pre-teen problems, I blamed them for being unhelpful and even useless.

What I failed to acknowledge was the fact that my parents were not always parents. They were, and still are, the children of their own parents, meaning they hold within themselves all of the traits that come with that title: fear and naivete, impatience and uncertainty, weakness and inexperience. And so, it turns out that my parents are just children who are taking care of other children. Whenever they yelled at me, it is because they were capable of losing their patience.

Whenever they refused to let me stay out too late at night, it is because they were capable of being afraid; whenever they couldn't offer me the solution to all of my problems, it is because they were capable of simply not having all the answers.

And so we must remember that just like us, our parents are doing the best they can do, and just as they accept our best effort, perhaps we should learn to theirs as well.

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