Since COVID-19 took over our lives just over a year ago, people across the world have seen their fair share of loss and experienced a great deal of pain.
Many, including myself, have been forced to abruptly grieve the passing of loved ones— whether or not their passing had to do directly with the pandemic.
This year, I unexpectedly lost my grandfather just days before Christmas. My family and I were not in the right spirit to celebrate the holiday season.
While he never had COVID-19, he had spent months recovering from an intense surgery in the hospital.
Regardless, I always stayed optimistic—never thinking his end would come the way it did. His passing was shocking and unforeseen. His recovery had taken a turn for the worse.
I had last seen him the night before we first locked down.
While visiting him, he was healthy, witty and unforgivingly himself, as usual. And, of course, he made me my favorite dinner too: steak—a girl after his own heart.
While I might have gotten sick later that night from a full dinner and a nerve-wrackingly intense game of Monopoly, he was there to help, Pepto Bismol in hand.
Despite the circumstances, this last shared memory I have of him will always stick out in my mind as true to his character. After always making an effort to be there for me at my high school track meets, graduations, birthdays and more, despite living several hours away, I never doubted his presence. He would always be by my side.
He loved me unconditionally. He loved me even when I decided to go to Lehigh, despite him being a die-hard Bucknell fan.
It is difficult to realize what the death of a loved one truly means when you are a child. I have lost family members throughout my childhood, and while I felt the sadness that came with it, I was unaware of what those losses meant and grieved in a different type of way.
I’ve had to relearn what it’s like to grieve with a new perspective on life.
I believe that there are no timelines when it comes to grief—everyone navigates it in their own way and there is no certainty as to when life will feel like it has gone back to normal. It can suddenly come over you, months or years later. Or, it can instantly hit you like a ton of bricks.
Some grieve silently. Some grieve loudly. I think I’m the latter.
As those who’ve dealt with loss know, sometimes it can also come in waves.
Busy with work and assignments, life can push these feelings to the side. Worries are replaced with responsibilities, the world keeps turning and the days keep coming.
Sometimes those waves come crashing down, and in turn, so does your grip on reality.
We all deal with grief at one point or another, but the way we process is anything but uniform.
Personally, I’m still navigating it. Luckily, the support system I’ve surrounded myself with helps me during tough times: on days where these waves of sadness randomly come over me or nights when he is there in my dreams.
While the physical presence of my loved ones helps, the knowledge of strangers in the same position around the world makes me feel less alone and more understood.
The world suffers a great deal of loss. Anyone could tell you that by just turning on the TV.
Unfortunately, as many are aware, this year has made that quite clear. 2020 threw challenges and chaos our way. However, it served as an important lesson for me when it comes to grief.
I’ve come to learn that I’m not alone, and if you need to hear this, neither are you.