Dealing with the Loss of a Grandparent

Dealing With The Loss Of A Grandparent

The loss of a loved one never gets easier but does heal.

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It doesn't matter how long it's been or whether or not you had "prepared" for the day to come. There is no way to prepare for the loss of someone who means so much to you. Grandparents are your built in second set of parents. Just like with your mom and dad, you build your future around them being there. You never wonder if they'll see you graduate, get married, have children, you just assume they'll be there, until they're not.

I was lucky enough to grow up one mile from my maternal grandparents' house and spend nearly every day of my childhood with my grandpa and grandma (who I had the honor of calling Bob-Bob and Dutchie). Day after day memories were made that have shaped me into the person I am today.

As I grew up, every awards show, every performance, sports game, accomplishment, they were there. I can still hear the bird call whistle Bob-Bob would do to let me know he was cheering me on. I would listen hard and wait to hear it to know he was there if I couldn't see him, and you don't think about not hearing it until you listen for it and it never comes.

Nearly four years ago my family lost Bob-Bob. The best father, father-in-law, brother, friend, and to me, grandpa, that anyone could ask for. With his loss the entire town was devastated, truly revealing what a unique soul he was despite what life has thrown his way. I still get told by people he'd encounter how he raved about how wonderful his grandchildren were and how much he loved us.

There are no words to express how special I felt to say he was my Bob-Bob. I was the only girl in the world to say he was my grandfather, something I am so proud of. And even if he isn't physically here, I still am his little girl and I will always find pieces of him within me. And while maybe there's some concerning aspects of being too similar to him, it keeps Bob-Bob with me forever in a way that no one can ever take from me.

The day God took him, I was angry. I was the only grandchild he didn't see graduate high school. He was never going to make that bird call whistle when they called my name to receive my diploma. It wasn't fair. Why would this happen?

By the time I graduated, two years later, I felt differently. I knew he was there. He was whistling when they called my name. He was also there for my honor societies, my sports games, my college visits. He might not be here but he is here. I'll see him at my college graduation, my wedding, and he'll watch my kids grow up the same way he watched me.

A grandparent is usually the first real encounter with death that anyone experiences and while they lived a long, full life, it still doesn't make sense why they had to go. Eventually you learn there was a reason they were needed on the other side.

It wasn't until I was diagnosed with brain cancer that I understood why he was needed. I always thought we needed him here more until I needed someone to hold my hand during treatments where I had to be "alone". Thanks to Bob-Bob I never had to really be by myself. He's still here now, holding my hand for every appointment, every treatment, and telling me that I'm going to be okay (even if he can only tell me in my dreams).

The world is cruel and countless times I've cried over how unfair life can be, but I've learned when it's someone's time to go, it doesn't mean goodbye. I still see him, I still hear him, and I know I'm not the only one. My family is lucky to have had a foundation like him. Now we're all pieces of him scattered to make the world a better place like he did every day of his life. I would say your three boys along with myself will always do our best to make you proud, but it doesn't matter what we do, I know you're proud regardless.

We'll always love you, Bob-Bob, no matter where you are.

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My OCD: A Reflection

A reflection on the disorder that is a part of my everyday life

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Last September, I wrote my very first Odyssey article on what it is like to be someone diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have found that article to be very therapeutic for me to look back on, and also a good stepping stone for deep reflection. Nearly nine months later, I am still struggling with OCD every day and it is not always easy. Let me address some misconceptions about this disorder. Firstly, I am not incredibly neat to the naked eye. If you observed my room, my car or any other one of my personal spaces, I am not the "typical" person with OCD. In other words, I have mentioned my diagnosis of OCD to friends and they have not believed me. (Sorry, I can be messy but what is important is I know where I left everything!)

My OCD looks different than what a lot of people think it ought to be. My OCD is the obsessive thoughts that keep me awake at night for hours, and my OCD is thinking about an incident that happened five years ago and analyzing it down to a play by play. These are just a few examples of how OCD plays a prevalent role in my life. These obsessive thoughts turn into compulsions where I yell at my loved ones or I become extremely upset with at myself, two things I absolutely hate.

But while I reflect on what role OCD plays in my life, I also have to reflect on the large positive strides I have taken in my life with this disorder. My OCD was at its peak my senior year of high school. I was unhealthily obsessed with all of my leadership positions, my college applications, prom, a boy, making everyone happy and also having the best year of my life. While it was a great year, I can remember times where I hit breaking points. An example is that a lot of people in my newspaper class didn't like me because I was so obsessed with making sure everything was perfect. This brought out a side in me that wasn't the most compassionate.

Two years later, I can now say that I don't act out against others the way I used to. In simpler times, I am more chill. I take a step back and look at the bigger picture rather than just the moment.

In conclusion OCD is always going to be a part of who I am, but it does not define me.

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Hey You, Get Off Your Phone!

A phone addiction: the one thing we all have in common.

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Your best friend is telling you about her relationship issues when you get a text from another friend. You nod along as she speaks and go to reach for your phone, responding to the text.

You're at work when you hear your phone buzz- it's Urban Outfitters and they're telling you about a sale: 25% all graphics tees! You know it'll look bad to be on your phone but you've got to hop on the good deal before it's gone.

You've got a million things to do- finish a 12 page report by Thursday, clean the dishes, respond to a 100 emails- but you also have snapchats to open, an Instagram to scroll through, and tweets to retweet. A little procrastination never hurt.

We're all guilty of doing it. We've become so normalized to a life with a phone in our hand 24/7, that not being on it sends us into a spiral. It's an addiction and a habit that's incredibly hard to break, but it's the reason that our friends feel ignored, our bosses think we're distracted, and our everyday tasks gets pushed to the last minute.

Force yourself to find another outlet when you're bored.

I recently decided to delete the apps I know are a biggest waste of my time, and find other distractions instead- distractions that involve the people and things that are right in front of me.

Read a book, go for a walk, talk to your friends and parents, paint, draw, go for a run.

Give the respect that people deserve.

Your friends aren't going to stay your friends for too long if you're half listening when they're speaking to you. If you want people to give a shit about your problems, you might want to put in a little effort on your end.

Not to mention, staring at your phone all day is definitely killing your brain cells.

Studies have proven that cellphone usage leads to a shorter attention span. It's the reason we cannot read for more than a couple minutes without getting distracted and why we can't remember things as well as we used to before the era of smart phones.

Habits are hard to break- it takes about 21 days to form one but even longer to get out of one. Take little steps in achieving a life without your hands plastered to your phone and remember that reality is so much better than the digitalized version we see on our 5 by 7 screens.

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