Most people have lost someone before. I know that. Whether you went through the grieving process in the comfort of your home or far away from the family that can help get you through the rough time, it does not discount the grief. It does not change it. Grief is grief, no matter where you are dealing with it or who helps you through it.
This is just my personal experience with it because I've never had to deal with the grief of losing one of my closest family members while being over a hundred miles away from home, from my family, from the people who understand what I'm going through better than anyone else.
About two months ago, I lost my grandpa.
I was home on break, so I was able to be surrounded by family and friends when it happened. I was able to see him one last time. But, as anyone who has dealt with grief before knows, sometimes the more time that has passed since the death and the more time the tragedy has had to break our fragile hearts and seep into our souls, it actually gets harder.
Those are the feelings I came back to college with — those raw, heartbroken feelings of loss and loneliness, the realization that nothing is going to change and that he is really and truly gone.
I was so sure that this would crush me. I was so sure the distance from my family would make this grief unbearable. I was so sure that I would be crying in my dorm every day and driving home every weekend.
And for the first few weeks, I was sad. All the time. I didn't want to go to class; I didn't want to hang out with friends; I didn't want to go to club meetings. Because I didn't see a point to any of it.
Why am I doing all of this, when my grandpa — one of my best friends in life — is gone?
The days continued on, the weeks kept accumulating. And, eventually, I was sucked back into the little bubble that is college life. I thought of him every day, but I became so busy, I didn't cry every day. This little bubble that surrounds you in college, the little bubble that blocks out the rest of the world, has actually helped me to move forward. Classes, hanging out with friends, club meetings, and all my ambitions and dreams that are bursting at the seams to take root, engulfed me. I became absorbed in the bubble. And I don't regret it. I feel more accepting of the situation; I feel better equipped to handle it because I know what I'm doing inside this bubble makes him proud.
So, what is it like to lose a loved one while away at college? Hard, because you're so far away from your family, so far away from the people who understand you and understand your situation. There are some Mondays I wake up devastated, shook to the core as the loss settles in like a new realization; sometimes I just simply look at a picture and the waterworks start.
However, it has also provided me a unique opportunity to find my place in the world amidst the confusion and pain.
I can be the very best version of myself in college, the version that would make my grandpa proud, and I don't think that chance makes grieving him any easier, I just think it makes the grief more manageable. It makes handling the loss so, so different.