Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

My journey through grief

Losing someone you care about is an experience that all of us will have to go through in our lives. No matter who you are or where you are from, you will, at some point, have to grieve, and it won’t be easy.

I have lost many loved ones suddenly within the span of just a year—and this new period of my life has felt incredibly strange, confusing and chaotic. I’m used to seeing grief portrayed in movies, TV shows and even video games, but I never quite understood what it felt like to actually grieve. Nothing could have prepared me for the struggles I’ve had to face, especially as an already overwhelmed college student. A year later, though, I’ve decided to give myself the opportunity to finally talk about the realities of grief. If you’re struggling like me, then maybe you can find some comfort in my personal reflections.

First, grief does not just have to be related to the death of someone you loved; grief can arise after many different kinds of losses: the end of a friendship or romantic relationship, moving away from home or even the loss of your past self. All forms of grief are equally valid and can be challenging. If you find yourself sad and reminiscing about the end of a friendship that brought you joy, your pain is real. I also understand that kind of grief, and it is not any easier to work through.

Regarding grief after death, one hurdle that is sometimes difficult for me to overcome is the societal taboo surrounding talking about death. This taboo is particularly perplexing considering that death is very much a normal human experience that none of us can avoid. After a global pandemic that took the lives of almost 7 million people and news of mass violence here in America and abroad, you would think death would be easier to talk about. But it is still a challenge for me. Even writing about it in this article is difficult: I worry that I might be revealing too much of myself or making other people uncomfortable just by mentioning death. And that is very frustrating when being open is a healthy and normal part of processing grief.

Though I sometimes still struggle with being open about my grief, sharing my feelings does help a lot. Knowing that I can temporarily take some of the burden off my shoulders makes it easier to navigate. If you are grieving, I would suggest opening up—at least to those close to you. Some people will be uncomfortable with the topic, but they don’t necessarily mean anything bad by it. They might not know how to support you or don’t want to upset you—both of which are understandable—which is why it’s important to respect other people’s boundaries. Don’t let that stop you, though, from seeking out those who will support you and leaning on them.

There might be times when talking about grief with others is too much to handle; in this case, writing about grief is also very effective. I’ve found that writing letters to loved ones has helped me not only process my own grief but also maintain the connection I once had with them. In these letters, I write as if they were still here and tell them about my day or week. It’s one small gesture I make that helps me to keep their memory alive, and I think it could help you as well. You don’t have to write all the time—I don’t—but if you have some free time and are thinking about them, consider picking up a pencil and a piece of paper. It’s a very powerful method to express your love for them.

Carrying on my lost loved one’s legacy has been a major goal for me in my grief. Writing letters is one strategy, but this can also mean listening to songs they enjoyed, wearing clothes that remind me of them, eating at restaurants they frequented or just doing what would make them proud. I learned in therapy that grief is love that has nowhere to go. Many of us grieve because we loved the person or people we lost, so finding outlets to express that love is immensely important. Find an outlet that works for you; maybe watch a movie they loved, bake a meal they enjoyed—whatever makes sense for you. Grieving is a personal journey, and what each of us individually finds comfort in varies.

Many people think of sadness when they hear the word grief, but it encompasses more than just one emotion. In my own journey, anger and bitterness have been common emotions. During the early stages of my grief, I would feel anger not only for my losses, but also at the world as a whole. In fact, anger is a normal part of the grieving process; and for many people, anger can even overshadow other emotions, such as sadness. Envy that others don’t have to experience what you are experiencing is also common. It might seem “wrong” to feel that way but it is a normal reaction. Don’t fault yourself. Eventually, the anger will subside and you will come out all right.

Sometimes, though, you might not feel anything at all—you might be numb or get the sense that your emotions are “frozen.” I felt numb early in my mourning: Life seemed mundane—almost chillingly quiet—and I found it difficult to do even basic tasks. Emotional numbness can be especially common during the early stages of grief; having to prepare for a funeral if you lost someone forces you to focus your energy solely on those plans. You might not even cry at the funeral, which can cause worry about what others might think. But just as anger is normal, so too is numbness. Everyone grieves differently and for different reasons. Exploring our individual reactions to grief is part of the journey.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that despite having lost people I loved, I am still here. But I wouldn’t be able to say that without support from my family, friends, therapist and even the hobbies I enjoy. Shows, video games and music that center a character’s journey through grief—in the case of “The Last of Us,” a literally physical journey—make me feel seen and understood. They’ve also given me the motivation to keep moving forward no matter what.

If you’re grieving for any reason, I hope my personal reflections made you feel understood. We shouldn’t have to grieve alone; reach out to those who care about you, allow yourself the freedom to talk about your feelings and know that you are not alone. Case Western Reserve University has numerous resources for those struggling with grief, and students can schedule counseling appointments at MyHealthConnect.

Most importantly, give yourself compassion. Grief is a long and difficult journey with many bumps in the road; however, you can and will make it out of that dark tunnel. Grief does significantly change who you are, but sometimes it can make you a stronger, more resilient person with an endless amount of love to spread. And I think we could all appreciate a little more love in our lives.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Beau Bilinovich
Beau Bilinovich, Opinion Editor

Beau Bilinovich (he/him) is a fourth-year student majoring in aerospace engineering. When not struggling to turn in his homework at the last minute, he enjoys playing video games with his friends on Discord, listening to Porter Robinson’s “Nurture” on an endless loop, adoring his black and white cat, Bob and learning guitar. One day, he hopes to work for NASA and send more people into space, and accomplish his dream of publishing a book.

Comments (0)

In an effort to promote dialogue and the sharing of ideas, The Observer encourages members of the university community to respectfully voice their comments below. Comments that fail to meet the standards of respect and mutual tolerance will be removed as necessary.
All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *