My grieving story and things I wish someone would have said

10 Things No One Tells You About Having To Grieve In College

I wish someone would have shared these with me.

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I still have a hard time writing about it, it's not something I necessarily want to write or think about. Actually, I want to lock it up in the corners of my subconscious and throw away the key.


October 27th 2018 Friday, the weekend before Halloween was the night my close friend overdosed and passed away.

That afternoon, I texted her and asked her to grab lunch with me while I was going to get my nails done. There was a long waiting line, and my nails took longer than expected, by the time I was done, I was tired. I texted her and asked to reschedule, and she wasn't even upset, she just told me to have a nighty night.

Then Saturday I called because we made plans, and it went straight to voicemail. That's weird. You always have your phone on you, let alone charged.

I texted you Monday, then Tuesday and the text bubble was green...I thought it was weird but didn't think too much of it, maybe you were somewhere without wifi.

Then, Tuesday night I get a text from another friend, saying, "how are you holding up?"

My heart sunk, and I knew what he was talking about, without really knowing. I grabbed my computer and logged on to Facebook and searched your name. That's when I started seeing the RIP posts all over your wall.

What a sick joke, I thought.

I call you right away...voicemail.

I sat there staring at my computer, I slowly put my hands over my face. I try to sob quietly, but I can't.


During the first week or so, I felt the worst I've ever felt. It was a combination of my first break up, and uncontrollable tiredness, multiplied by 10. I couldn't sleep, and when I did, it was only for a couple of hours. I was drinking a glass of wine to start and end my day, with some more drinking in between. Everything reminded me of her. I just wanted to go home. My eyes hurt every day for a week because I couldn't stop crying. There was a point I was so numb, I thought I was done crying, and tears kept coming.

I tried going to class, sometimes I could sit through a lecture, but at other times, I just left.

During that first week, there's no use in trying to keep it together. I've only had a couple of out-of-body experiences, and this was one of them. I felt like I was standing next to myself, watching me go through the motions. I don't really remember those two weeks.

This is what I wish someone would have told me:

1. It's going to hurt, and it's going to hurt A LOT.

I was in denial until I went to her wake. I wasn't expecting it to be an open casket, and I almost lost it. Seeing her there, still...I couldn't fathom. My mind didn't understand. That's my friend, she was only 20, we didn't even celebrate her 21st. I was so angry, and guilty. I was angry, because you left me here, and now what am I supposed to do? Fuck dude, I miss you.

2. It's going to feel like you're losing your mind a little.

For those two weeks, my mind felt clouded, it probably didn't help that I was drinking a lot. I blacked out for the first time. I remember trying to do simple tasks, like going grocery shopping, and I couldn't even do it. I would go in with my list, and not know where things were, which is weird because I've shopped at the same place for the past 3 years! Tasks that normally take 20 minutes, were taking an hour. I would try to leave my apartment, and could not find my keys for 20 minutes, just to find out they were in my hand...

I thought I was losing it. I couldn't remember what I did 5 minutes ago, and my mind would just go blank if anyone asked me anything. I think this is what a zombie feels like.

3. There's no right or wrong way to react.

Because of the type of person I am, I didn't want to talk about it. I'm the type of person that keeps everything bottled up until I explode. At this moment, I want to take a moment and thank everyone that texted/called me during this time, it meant a lot, I just wasn't in a place that I could reach out.

There's this pressure to react a certain way when you are grieving. You're supposed to look like shit. I felt like people expected me to act or say certain things, but I couldn't. You're supposed to wear all black or something... honestly, f*ck off. One professor asked me, how long I had known her for, as if it would have mattered? Would you have more apathy if I had known her for 10 years rather than 3? Since I'm not crying, I must not be in pain, right?

Just take your time, if you need to keep yourself super busy, do it. If you need to lock yourself in your room and cry it out, do that too. If you need both, then so be it.

4. Put the bottle of wine down.

I wish my friends could have actually told me to stop drinking before it was too late. I know it seems harmless at first, and it actually helped me when I couldn't sleep, but don't do it. Halloween, I was triggered, and instead of calling it a night, I took shots on my own, which followed by me getting into a fight. Full disclosure, this girl was being a total c-word, so she kind of had it coming. But that's not the moral of the story! The moral of the story is that self-medicating when you're hurting can go really south, really really fast. It doesn't make grieving any easier and only gets you in trouble, tbh. I know my friends were trying to be supportive and thought that drinking couldn't be that bad, but it was.

5. You will be triggered.

Every freaking place reminds me of you. The quad, Devil Dawgs, Starbucks, 1237, McGee's, the list is endless. I couldn't walk through school without having a flashback of every other place. I would start off strong, leaving my apartment was the first step. Then I would see the stu and think of you, and the tears would come. I couldn't help it. I'm lucky that I was able to go home to Florida soon. Had that not been the case, I think I would have had some serious issues. All the memories are going to come back like a disease, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

6. Listen to your body

Wanna workout? Run on the treadmill. Wanna eat desserts? Go to Sweet Mandy's. Wanna stalk your friend's profile? Go for it. Wanna lay in bed and stare at a wall? Play some Amy Winehouse, it helps. I wish I would have been in tune with my body. It may be hard to do so while you're going through it, but try. Don't try to do what you "think" you should be doing, instead try to listen to your body.

7. It's okay to depend on your friends 

Easier said than done. I'm usually the happy, positive person in the group, and for the first time roles reversed. I'm the one that usually has it together, but things hit the fan so quickly. I could no longer handle my anger. I was that drunk friend that you have to take care of and it was weird.

Depend on your friends to write emails for you. Let yourself be vulnerable and let them take care of you. During this time, I found which of my friends are good with this kind of thing. Greta checked up on my every other day, even though she was thousands of miles away in her study abroad. I got to see the best qualities in my group of friends and I will forever be thankful. I also got to see some friends that are actually not that good of friends, but that's life.

8. Let your professors know

A quick email is all it takes. If you want to, or can't, try to talk to the dean of students, or ask your friends to type an email for you. Most professors will be understanding, and even if you think you can power through, letting your professors know will help.

9. You're not going to feel like yourself

You are going to be numb for a while, and that's okay. You're probably going to have a great day, just to follow a night of breakdown. It's okay, let time do its thing.

10. Find your way of coping

So, one of her friend and I got into an argument. I used social media to help me with my grieving, and this girl had the freaking nerve to basically say that the way in which I was coping was wrong. If you're reading this, F U. First of all, she was my friend too, and you're a piece of dirt for questioning my friendship with her.

See, the thing is, my friend overdosed, so it brought up the question of mental illness. In our society, we like to remember the deceased as an angel. Which she was not, she was human. We got into an argument because this girl wanted me to "rephrase" one of my posts about her.


Grieving is hard, let alone in college. You're trying to keep up with your classes, while in a big drinking culture, and it can be a lot to handle. Know that everything will be okay, even if it doesn't seem like it. Take it day by day, and if you need help, each school offers different kinds of help, whether that's a counselor or a referral to talk to someone outside of school.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.

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Seniors,

I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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