74 thoughts on “Grief and Loss

  1. Growing up in a family of five girls wasn’t as easy as it seems. It was never quiet. My oldest sister, Rachel, and I were definitely the closest. Similar to everyone else who enters high school, she became exposed to the peer pressure, drama, and temptations of the teen life. In the last few months of her senior year, everything changed. At first, it wasn’t noticeable, but it quickly became a problem. She began coming home late and would constantly be too tired to do anything. For years after high school, Rachel continued to struggle to get help for a drug addiction and was constantly in and out of rehabilitation homes and hospitals. Eventually, she was able to pull her life together and change her life.
    We became distant as I entered high school. In high school, my grades during ninth grade were particularly higher than most, until they took a turn for the worst. On May 27, 2016, I left class early to devastating news. I sat there staring off in dismay. Tears started to form in my eyes. I could feel them slowly fall down my face. I couldn’t believe it. Rachel, my older sister, my best friend… has died. I didn’t want to believe it. Being apart from her for so long made it seem so surreal. Although my sister didn’t get the chance to live out her life, I believe she has made me who I am today and still inspires me to live every day as if every moment matters.

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    • Dear Emerson, My heart hurts for you. You do your sister a great honor to live a full and healthy life– one that she could not. And you honor her by telling her story, by sharing her struggle, so that we can learn from her loss… and yours. She has clearly helped to shape your path and we, at UMass Dartmouth, are fortunate to share in the bright future you will begin here.

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    • Emerson, I am so sorry for your loss. I can tell through your post that you and your sister were indeed very close and had a tight relationship. Hopefully our generation can be the one that fixes drug problems across America to stop the devastation it has not only on the individual, but all those who associate with the victim as well.

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    • Emerson, I am so sorry for your loss and I know how hard it is to lose someone so close to you that you love. Just think every day and continue to live it out for her and knowing she is absolutely watching over you every step of the way throughout your life. If there is anyone you ever need to reach out to talk to I would gladly be here. Just know she and everyone else is here for you. And thank you for sharing your story 🙂

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    • Emerson,
      I feel deeply for you, as I too lost an older sister. Words cannot explain the mixture of emotion you must feel, the confusion, the pain. Your sisters story will live on through you, as you achieve the incredible things you have planned to do. Your strength is incredible, and you will be able to face every obstacle in life with no fear and you will succeed.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

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    • Emerson, I am beyond sorry for your loss. My older sister is without a doubt my best friend and due to medical issues, getting that call out of class has been my biggest fear since the first call in fourth grade. Although I am lucky to still have my sister, I have imagined the call, felt the loss, cried for the devastation of a life without her. All I can hope for you is what I’ve hoped for myself in that you live a life she would be proud of and to remember her for all the warmth and positivity she has brought to you.

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    • Emerson, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I am so proud of you for letting her legacy inspire you to this day, and living a positive and healthy life. Never forget that you have people to turn to around you that love you when things get hard. Experiences like this are far from easy, but certainly do shape us as people. Please, keep staying strong and living positive. All of my love and prayers to you and your family.

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    • Emerson, I’m so sorry for your loss but I am so grateful that I have met you and I get to see the person you will become through the next four years at UMD. Your sister is watching over you and you’re going to make her so proud.

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    • We live in Society where people are not surprised of the horrible crimes and disasters that occurs, causing grief and losses for many. Growing up people often inform me to “toughen up” because “the world is cruel”. I was always bothered by the phrase, on the grounds of the idea that everyone just excepts it with the thought of it being impossible to cause a change. Every time I hear a school shooting/public shooting I am no longer surprise. The thought of not being surprise angers me and makes me mournful to all those young lives that were lost. I see it as motivation to work hard for a better future with the life that I was giving. I always thought about how it could have been me having my future, my goals, and my life taken away from me forcefully. Many people that had no relations to any of those who were lost, were affected for a short period of time then moving on like nothing occurred. However, there are some who are tired of the losses and the griefs that are forcefully happening, giving them the strength to stand for something greater. This people are not witnessing these losses as the world being cruel, but as an approach to stand and make a change so we can better the world. I believe that people should stop using the phrase that “the world is cruel” as a mask/excuse to justify the crimes and disasters. People should use those losses and griefs as a motivation to try and improve themselves and their surroundings.

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    • Emerson, I am so sorry for lost and I honestly think your story is beautiful and It made you who you are today. As hard as it is to go through that, I truly believe everything in life happens for a reason and I hope you have a great year at UmassD. If you ever need anyone to talk to, I understand what you’ve been through and i would love to talk to you about it. Wish you the best girl.

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    • I don’t really know where to start. I lost my dad when I was two years old and I lost my older brother a year before i was born. Although, I have no memory of my dad or my brother, the pain of losing them follows me everyday. But life gave me a even bigger opportunity, I was adopted a couple months after I was born by my older sister as soon as she turned 18. My birth mom was addicted to drugs, Therefore, my older sister quickly took all responsibility for me and so did her boyfriend (my adoptive father). They took me in and I grew up in a lovable, caring and stable home. Although it was very hard to understand because I felt betrayed by my adoptive parents for keeping it a secret from me for all these years, I knew in my heart they loved me as their own daughter. As I got older, I understood what they did for me was a gift and I was so grateful for my sister to take me in when she didn’t even have enough money to keep food on the table, she became my hero. But, the truth is I would do anything to have a simple conversation with my birth dad and brother but I wouldn’t trade my adoptive parents for anything in this world. Therefore my story has taught me the phrase that “everything happens for a reason because god has a plan for all of us in life”. Thank you so much for reading my story.

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  2. Losing one of my siblings to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and the other to a collapsed lung as an infant, I quickly became depressed and my whole life instantly became a black hole that I couldn’t seem to escape. However, my brothers passing away has had one of the biggest impacts on my life with shaping my mentality of never giving up as well as helping me grow as a person, and most importantly setting the backbone for my future. Because my older brother passed away as an infant I didn’t get to meet him because I hadn’t been born yet but that didn’t mean it had no effect on my life. My younger brother, however, I did meet. I would spend all day with him and took care of him as if he were my own son. When I had first been told he passed, my body collapsed to the floor and I wasn’t sure what was happening around me. Everyone had became blurred specs through my tears and sounds began to fade away. I was in a fit of depression and rage and I had gone cold, but somewhere along the lines I was able to come out of that state and my whole world view changed entirely. Instead of being angry, I started to become more compassionate and empathetic. I started to recognize that people go through similar things and they don’t let it define them–but the decisions they make after do. I made the decision to dedicate my future to helping those who might experience the same situations that I go through. I have grown a passion in the healthcare industry, which is why I am now a nursing major, due to the unfortunate experiences I had gone through. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else besides helping people who have experienced the loss of loved ones. I say all of this to say that, even though I have gone through the tragedy of losing not one but two of my brothers, it helped to mold me into the person I am today and will be in the future. It has shaped me to never give up on my dreams as well as constantly push myself to always do my best. But more than that, I know what I want to do with my life in order to reach my greatest potential. I believe that it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you make of it, and I plan to make it the best I can for my life and the life of others.

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    • Grief is the final act of love, helping people through the process of grieving any sort of loss has always been a passion of mine. I too entered this major in hopes of making that process easier for the people around me.

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    • Kaylee,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Your story really touched me. I am glad to hear that you have not let this define who you are, but has help you create motivation to help others, especially those that could be in the same situation as you. I find this to be beautiful. Your statement that situations do not define someone but it’s how they react/ the decisions they choose afterwards is so true. I wish you the best in your career that you are pursuing.

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    • Kaylee, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a sibling is one of the toughest things, and I can relate. Being able to tell your story and your brothers is one step to acceptance and shows how strong you are. Thank you for being strong and continuing to motivate others who have experienced this type of loss.

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  3. When you’re 5 years old no thought of losing a parent would ever cross your mind. Yet for me, it eventually had to. I remember the day like it was yesterday. Chaos, confusion, and uncertainty. I woke up to my dad asleep on the couch. However, later that morning I would find that he had passed away. My young mind wasn’t sure what was exactly happening, but all I knew was that I would never be able to talk, listen to or be with my dad again. When I went back to school my classmates stared at me and apologized. “I’m sorry for your loss” was all I heard for the next few weeks. I appreciated the support, however, I felt that nobody understood where I was coming from. People would try to relate to my situation explaining the loss of the people in their lives. But the thing about grief is that it isn’t all the same and everybody grieves in a different way.
    Grief never goes away and it never gets easier. Grief is like a wave, it comes and goes and you have no control over it. Sometimes it hits you lightly, barely touches your knees, or knocks you over. Graduating high school was just another milestone I had reached without a dad by my side. Yet from losing a parent I’ve learned so much. I have learned to appreciate everything I have in my life and to always take a positive outlook on life. I try my best to help others around me, put a smile on my face and enjoy every moment. Grief has taught me to never give up and to always remember that my dad is watching over me no matter what.

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    • Jessica,
      I am so sorry for your loss. I empathize with you as I too lost a parent at around the same age. Although we unfortunately cannot have them here on earth with us, they’re absolutely watching over us. I’m sure your dad has been watching over you and has seen all of your accomplishments and he will continue to be with you as you begin your new journey into college! Thank you for sharing your story!

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  4. Growing up, Jay was my person. My dad grew up with him and he was one of my parents best friends. Everyone loved him and he was one of the most humble and selfless people, no matter what was going on in his life and always was there for you when you needed it. He was a big part of my childhood which developed a very strong bond between us. Jay was an amazing artist and was the person who inspired and taught me how to draw, without him I most likely would never have even considered art as a passion. As I got older, we started to see Jay less and less, but since I was so young and naive my parents would just tell me that it was because he had moved farther away and was busy with work. Although this was true, there was a part of the story that they were leaving out because I was not old enough to understand. One night when I was 15 I asked my dad why we were not seeing Jay as often as we used to. He looked at me with worried eyes and told me that Jay was struggling with a drug addiction. He told me that he was trying to get help and was doing better so that we might be able to see him more often. I was confused and my dad helped me to better understand what was going on. A few months after I found out we started to see Jay more often and I was so excited. Even though he had his own personal struggles, he only focused on making sure that I was happy and that he made the time up to me. This continued for about a year and now looking back I am so thankful for that time that I got to spend with him. On May 11, 2016 we were at the hospital visiting my aunt because she had just had my baby cousin that day. My dad got a phone call while we were there and seemed to be upset after, but said that he was fine. When we left the hospital, I got into my dads truck and he grabbed my hand and he seemed to be crying. I asked him what was wrong. I will never forget how hard it was to hear the words: “Honey, Jay passed away today”. He had overdosed on Heroin. I felt my heart drop as it ached and my whole body went numb. My dad grabbed me and hugged me as I began to uncontrollably sob. To this day, 3 years later, I still get that feeling sometimes when I think about that moment. Jay was my person and still is. I had a very hard time after he passed away. I had never lost anyone, and it made it especially hard because he was so close to me. Grief takes its toll in different ways for everyone and I saw this for the people who knew Jay. I am better now, but not a day goes by where I don’t think about Jay. The hurt never fully goes away when you lose someone who made such a big impact on your life. Although I want more than anything to have him back, this has taught me to never take the time you are given with friends and family for granted and always make the best of it.

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    • Dear Abby, I am so sorry that you lost Jay, your person. I hope that he is still with you in spirit even though he isn’t on earth. Sharing your story/his story is a powerful healing experience.

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  5. “I woke up to my Uncle Gianni… That was odd. I went out into the living room and sat in front of the TV with my two sisters. Where was my mom? To me, a five year-old, my mind’s focus would drift between the strangeness of the situation and the child’s television show on the screen. In time, my mom would enter my house with tear-stained eyes informing the three of us children that there was a tragedy the previous night. I would proceed to withhold my tears in recognition that weakness was no longer an attribute I could show. I must step-up and be the strong protector of my mother and siblings. My father had died.
    We were a missionary family. We served in Brazil, located very close to the mouth of the Amazon river, spreading our witness of Jesus Christ and the Gospel to the natives of the country. We had been on leave, residing in the house neighboring my Papa’s, in La Harbra, California, on that fateful day that my dad passed. He had been making the long eight-hour journey up the coast to the San Francisco area to comfort his sister who had recently, and suddenly, lost her newborn child. On that early morning, May 3, 2007, my dad had been driving while my Auntie Sarah sat in the passenger seat and my Uncle Alan in the back. Uncle Alan was thrown from the truck out the back windshield and my dad was crushed in the car from the highway sign post the truck had been rammed into, my Auntie Sarah was a little banged-up but otherwise unharmed. The drunk driver was never caught… a hit and run. My dad was dead before the ambulance arrived and the jaws of life had been barred.
    The last thing my dad said to me was, “Son, take care of your mother and your sisters…” Not knowing that those would be the last words he said to me, their weight became so much more in the gravity of his absence. I was now the man of the house. I was the protector of my pregnant mother, two younger sisters, and unborn brother. And I was heart-set on honoring his request.
    I was a funny and joyous child, but when I willingly, under my own assumption, took this burden upon myself, that changed. I was serious. I was angry. That anger sprung from the lack of emotion I displayed day-to-day. I had forgiven the drunken driver, and I was not angry at God, but my inability to express my feelings lead to uncontrollable fits and reactions.
    That attitude changed one day in my seventh grade Biblical studies class. While discussing how God’s plan for my life was fulfilled in even the most awful of situations, I had an epiphany. I was here on this earth for a reason, all that I had been through had a purpose, and it wasn’t worth living my life so seriously and suffering as a consequence. Since that day, I have attempted to live joyfully and have an optimistic approach to everyday of my life. I have not dropped my burden as protector, even after my mom’s remarriage, but I have adjusted it and I carry it in a different, more positive way.
    I see the world through two lenses. One giving me the drive, diligence, and demeanor to do what needs to be done to the best of my ability, and the other letting me see the joys and the good in the people surrounding me and in my situations. My testimony has made me stronger. My story has developed a protagonist that has a perfect blend of responsibility and enjoyment that is unique to one person: me. And as my story continues, I expect these lenses to multiply, and for my experiences to aid me in my entrance to adulthood and my college journey.”
    As you can read from an essay I wrote last year, I have experienced some grief and loss. My dad’s sudden death spurred a sequence of events in my life that have lead me to this point in my life where I will be entering college. Some might call what I describe fate. Me, I choose to take the side of a higher power, but no matter your view point, it doesn’t change the fundamental truth that I have learned. I believe that grief and loss in a persons life is a critical point. It is a crossroads, and you must choose a path. You must choose, let the loss defeat you, or take the experience and learn all you can from it. All the lessons that I learned from my dad’s death have made me into the human that I am today. I know that it is hard, but I also believe that the hard times contain lessons that will teach us if we allow them too. I believe that grief is a natural and necessary response to loss and that you must grieve well in order to move on fully, not forgetting, but recognizing that it happened and jumping into the next chapter with the memory lingering in the last.

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  6. Grief and loss.

    Why is the world so cruel and unforgiving? This is a question I have really struggled with for the past few years.
    It always seems that those taken from us are taken far too soon and it is almost always unexpected. In 2017 on November fourteenth my cousin lost her battle against substance abuse, more specifically her addiction to opioids. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it did. It really did. One moment she was getting better; she was truly trying to change and the next she is gone. How is that fair? Her death broke our family. No matter the outcome of a day, a part of will always feel guilty. Here I am, living my life, enjoying what it has to offer while my cousin no longer can. It may sound dumb but it’s hard to be happy when I know she’s looking down on me and seeing what she is missing out on. As time has passed, I’ve learned it’s okay to enjoy these moments, and I know she would want me to be happy, but it just doesn’t seem right knowing she is gone.
    Almost two years pass and just as our lives seemed to make some sense, they were turned upside down yet again. On July third I came home from work to my very upset mother who said, “I have some bad news” to which I responded the only way I could think of: “who died?” Of course, I didn’t think somebody had died, I just figured that would make her answer seem far less scary. This only made her cry, as she choked out the words “Uncle Paul”. I think my jaw may have literally touched the ground. Never in a million years did I think somebody had passed, let alone my crazy, spunky uncle. Who else would throw me into pools, make fun of me, and “eat” worms to gross out my sister and me?
    I know death is a part of life. What I don’t understand is why it happens to those who are undeserving and have so much to live for. I try my best to smile every day and enjoy the little things because I have learned that life is not fair. People take too many things for granted and good things don’t always happen to good people. Although I miss my uncle and cousin dearly, I know that they would want me to dive headfirst into everything life throws at me, good and bad. Though they are no longer here with me they have taught me to live life to the fullest because nobody has control over what will happen to them. Although I will always miss them, I cannot live in fear or spend my entire life grieving their losses. I know death is always and will always be difficult to deal with and understand, but life isn’t meant to be easy; it is meant to be crazy, unpredictable, enjoyable, and everything in between. Life is like a rollercoaster and although I seem to be going downhill, the climb back up isn’t far ahead (hopefully!).

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    • Dear Marissa,
      First off: sorry for your loss. I lost my own brother to opioid addiction in 2014, and very very recently my father (named Paul…its very uncanny) passed away as well. It’s super important to keep your eye on the peaks in life!! If they’re not around to do it, someone has to enjoy life to its fullest for them self and those who are missing out. I wish you the best with your grieving process.

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  7. Dear VeeVee,

    I’m sorry. I’m sorry for leaving before your life had even begun. I’m sorry for burdening you with so much grief and loss before you could even grasp the concept of pain. I’m sorry for not being there for you when you needed me most. I know some days you’re mad at me for not being there. For having an empty space in your heart. For all the missed father daughter dates, the forehead kisses at night and inside jokes. God put me in this world for a reason and it was just my time to go. I guess in some ways it is better that I passed when I did because you would be burdened by these memories of me that would go through your mind at night preventing you from sleeping. Instead you are left with “what ifs”. “What if he was still alive?” “What if he never got sick?” “What if he was nothing like I’ve imagined him to be?” If it were up to me I would be with you in this very moment. Guiding you, protecting you, and loving you unconditionally. Even though I can not physically be there with you I am watching you turn into the woman I could’ve only imagined you would be and so much more. You make me proud every single day. I know you haven’t had the easiest life without me there but you have always made the best out of every situation and come out on the other side even stronger. And for that I applaud you. You have a beautiful soul and kind spirit. If there’s anything I ask of you is to never let anyone take those two things away from you. You have so much to offer the world and I can’t wait to see what you make of it . Now on the very edge of adulthood you have the whole world at your fingertips and I know you’re going to do amazing things. You have lost yourself, been broken, and put yourself back together as a beautiful masterpiece. You are a force to be reckoned with and the whole world knows it and those who don’t will soon. As you prepare for the next chapter in your life, remember that it’s okay to feel defeated, tired, afraid. Use this to push yourself even farther to make yourself stronger. Anything worth doing to going to be hard and the person you are becoming is going to cost you everything you hold dear. People, relationships, and material things but don’t let that stop you. Keep becoming Yvelyn Aridou and know that I will be with you every step of the way.
    Love you Always & Forever,
    Dad
    P.S. Stop being mean to your brother please

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  8. I had assumed my aunt had heard about my dad that night. I figured she must’ve know what hospital he was at and where we could see him. I called her, at midnight. She had just gotten out of work and was on her way home. She answered sounding exhausted after working her long shift. I asked if she knew what hospital they were at as soon as she answered. Confused, she asked what I was talking about. Then, right there, I realized she hadn’t known she had lost her brother to an overdose just 30 minutes before this very call.
    She thought I was joking. No joke, just the honest and aching truth. And I could hear her whole world crash within the one whimper she let out. This was when it really hit me. He was really gone. He would never call his sister again to say Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas. Dad would never try and apologize for leaving my sister and me, again. No more wondering if he’ll show up to a family party or for his weekend visit.
    At the funeral my Aunt requested my sister and I go up to the podium with her while she gave her Eulogy. She thanked him for giving the family my sister and I. I lost it. Nobody should ever have to feel this heartache. Although my father was never really around in my life, it was a numbing experience that I can’t particularly explain.

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  9. On a summer day like today, about eleven years ago, life was easier. I was having fun with my cousins. A negative thought going through my head at that age was unthinkable. As my day passed, it was filled with joy and happiness that can’t seem tangible to me at the age of eighteen. My day was cut short with the sound of my mom’s car pulling up to come and pick me up. Why so early? Things seemed normal as I was entering the car. My mom told me we were going to my grandparents’ house. This was odd for me since we never saw them at their house anymore. Hospital visits were the only way of seeing them because of my grandfather’s battle with cancer. “Vovo is home?”, I asked. She then uttered,”No, he’s in heaven.”. At the age of seven, I couldn’t properly grasp the meaning of that sentence. I can remember what I felt, but I still can’t understand why I felt that way. In that moment, I felt no sadness and no tears fell. I felt a rush of nausea and then seconds after, I came to terms with it, like nothing happened. I could remember arriving at their house, everyone’s faces, and the way that they carried themselves was so different than I was used to. It was a strange experience. I don’t know why I was fine. Maybe because I thought heaven was closer than it actually is. I thought his death was a lie. I had weird dreams of it all being a huge hoax. It was a feeling that I still can’t explain.
    As the years passed, not only until a few years ago, did I feel the grief that many people experience during someone’s death. Life had changed so much over the course of so many years without someone important that was supposed to be there all along. So many things were experienced and were lived and he was supposed to be there for all of it. That’s what hit me the most. I wouldn’t have thought that I would get so sad about it when I never had for all of those years. I believe that because I didn’t fully grieve over it in the first place was why it came around eventually. Death is scary and sometimes brushing it past us is easier to cope, but grief is important and I have learned that through myself. I am so glad I experienced it so now I can express how I feel.

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  10. When my great grandpa died in march; it was an extremely hard death for me especially since it came out of no where. He was 87 but the picture perfect of health; he was still riding bikes and going to the gym every day. So when he had a seizure and fell into a coma it was a huge shock for everyone. They diagnosed him with colon cancer, they never caught it because he always refused prostate exams or any exams regarding that area after a traumatic experience he had with the doctors. Seeing him in that situation broke my heart and was one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with. He could hear and feel but he was not actually conscious; so I would hold his hand and let him play with my bracelets, trying not to cry, while making stupid doctor puns. He was the king of stupid dad jokes and we were always really close so I knew he would enjoy them. I was glad that I got to see him the day before he died so I got to tell him I loved him one last time. Even before he died my family was already talking about who got what and it always made me sick. The most awful thing was, was at the wake as I am crying and saying goodbyes I hear my uncle talking about “allowing” my other uncle to have my Great grandpas chess board. This was one, not even his to allow it was my great grandmothers choice and two, we are literally in the room with my great grandpa laying there in the casket. It was disgusting it was like my entire family turned into a pack of vultures. The only one really even helping with everything was my grandmother. And I realized how selfish my family was. In that moment I swore that if I ever had kids I would never raise them to be that way. I started trying to help my grandmother more and family became the most important thing to me that day. I started trying to be a better person than my entire family combined. So that my great grandpa would at least have one person to be proud of. I became more spiritual because before that I was a devout atheist. I started reading tarot cards believing more in the universe as a being. It was all my way to cope with his death. And I was just happy to have the bullet casing from the gun salute he received at his funeral. And even though my family was disgusting and were acting like vultures that day, I wanted to make sure I was as selfless as I could be to make their lives easier. I wanted to make sure my great grandpa was proud of me. And I believe and hope he is smiling down at me; and laughing at all of the terrible jokes I make.

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  11. When given this assignment during orientation, I had my response all planned out: I’d talk about the way it feels in America as an LGBT person, the rise of fascist ideologies online, and how the two connect. It was going to be great, honestly, since they affect my life personally and I’m very passionate on the subject. But as of late, I’ve been lost; confused. I’ve grown up my whole life with a father who’s been chair bound- he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when I was about 4 years old. I’m not sure why the youngest child was entrusted with being his caretaker, but I’ve been glued to his side ever since. Recently, one of his medications has been delayed in refills, causing him to go 1 to 2 days without it. Commence the withdrawal symptoms- but hey, at least it was only for a day before he could get back on it. But the week before July 25th of this year, he hadn’t had his refill yet again. First 1 day passed, then 2. Then it became almost a week. The morning of July 25th I woke up to my sister’s screams, for my father had passed away some time during the night from the withdrawal. I don’t really know what to do anymore in a world without my dad – I don’t mean that in the most depressing way either, I’m just lost. I guess my brother passing away 5 years prior prepared me for the grief process, but I had never wanted to go through it again so soon. My dad wanted me to go to school and do something with my art, so I dedicate these next 4 years of schooling to him. I’m going to miss referring to him by first name to my friends (“Paul says hi!”), and him calling them all his children. I’m going to miss forcing him to watch the shows I like since he’d always do the same back to me. I hope when I see him again I’ve done something worthwhile to show him, whatever that calling for me may be. Didn’t think I’d go down the sentimental route for this assignment, but it’s what feels best.

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    • Angela,
      I’m so sorry for your loss first off, I lost my dad a few years ago and I never imagined a life without him either. Your story really moved me. Having to grow up at a young age to take care of your loved ones is something I can relate to. My dad really wanted me to continue my education as well. I can’t even imagine how proud your dad is of you! Going to college is a massive accomplishment but getting into a school of art? You must be very talented and I hope to see your pieces scattered through out the campus this fall. Thank you for sharing your story, it was definitely the right thing to do.

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  12. Looking at my Brampy lying helplessly in his deathbed taking his last breath made me realize what was important in life. My Brampy was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 72 with mere months to live. At seven years old I remember going to visit him in the hospital, not knowing it would be the last time I ever saw him. I remember vividly how the nurses were not just treating this sickness of his but him as a person as well. Seeing nurses come in and out of his room and speak to him with such kindness made my heart warm. I knew that he was comforted in his last days as he had kind-hearted souls helping him through this devastating time in his life. From that day forward I had felt the need to help others dealing with similar circumstances as myself. Times like the one I experienced put people in vulnerable positions, feeling exposed. I decided what I wanted to do with my future in that moment and that was to become a Nurse. Nurses often help those going through tough situations by befriending them, they are not only professional but a shoulder to cry on. I have always wanted to help give back to those in less fortunate positions than me. Knowing I can be there for a patient just like those nurses were there for my Brampy is my one true passion in life. I’ve also learned that in order to grow, people have to go through loss and pain. I am not only able to have a positive outlook knowing my Brampy is in a better place but his death has taught me to be grateful for everything I have in life. I believe everything happens for a reason and that no one is put on this Earth randomly. Every experience shapes someone into becoming who they are today and who they will become in the future. Through the loss of my Brampy I was able to figure out that my goal is to become a nurse and I know that he will be watching over me as I embark on this journey.

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    • This is a beautiful story. I somewhat relate to parts of this and have similar beliefs like “everything happens for a reason.” Taking the good out of a bad situation can be hard sometimes and it’s great you found your passion out of it.

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  13. Everyone has lost someone, well most everyone. I’m sure there are a few people out there lucky, or maybe unlucky enough to not have gone through this. While losing someone obviously is horrible, it shapes you as a person. When I was 11, I lost my best friend to cancer after a few years of fighting. Since then I have been living, not only for myself, but for him, making sure to live my life to the fullest, the life that he was not able to experience. Losing him was the hardest thing that ever happened to me, but it made me who I am, and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. Death is inevitable, and it will continue to happen indefinitely, but what isn’t inevitable is ruining yourself over it. It is your choice to keep marching on. This doesn’t work for the loss of someone either, whether it’s getting over a break up, or even something as small as failing a test, you have the choice to better yourself or to allow yourself to be made better by it. “Grief is like the wake behind a boat. It starts out as a huge wave that follows close behind you and is big enough to swamp and drown you if you suddenly stop moving forward. But if you do keep moving, the big wake will eventually dissipate. And after a long time, the waters of your life get calm again, and that is when the memories of those who have left begin to shine as bright and as enduring as the stars above.” – Jimmy Buffet. The way that I interpret this quote is that if you stop moving forward, you will be consumed by sadness. So when something gets you down, do things that make you happy, thing that make you have fun, do not sit still letting yourself be beaten by the adversity. You can get through it.

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    • Hello Alex.
      I think it’s so easy to let your sadness consume you while you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one. I know when my brother passed away, my mother had suicidal thoughts. However, she knew she had a family to take care of and that she couldn’t leave the world like that. She pushed those feelings away and refused to feed into them. She chose to be strong for my family, and I think thats so admirable. I think you’re admirable for remembering your loved one and choosing to live a happy life in memory of them. Death certainly is inevitable, and it is completely a matter of finding healthy coping mechanisms and thinking about what that person would genuinely want for you. Thank you for sharing your story for us, and I look forward to someday hopefully meeting you.

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  14. When I was 8 years old, my grandmother passed away. She had been in the hospital for
    months and I had known she was sick. So when I learned of her death, it wasn’t especially surprising. In some ways it was expected, at least as much as a 8 year-old can comprehend the topic of death.
    I never had to deal with the experience of losing someone close to me before this. I spent
    a lot of time with my grandmother and we were very close. Yet, the full weight of losing her didn’t hit me right away. It would take months for the true impact of her loss to be felt. As time went on and I truly realized what it meant to never see her again, I finally felt the true grief of her loss. There would be no coming back, no way to replace her. She was gone forever and now I had to accept this fact.
    The loss of my grandmother made me realize how much I had depended on her in my
    life. Not physically, but emotionally. Her emotional presence and support was an irreplaceable fixture of my life that I didn’t realize was there until she was gone. The rest of my family felt similarly. Her loss was felt by us all, yet it also brought us closer together. Her death made each of us realize how important our bond as a family was. We couldn’t waste our time with each other. Our support for one another helped all of us cope with this loss, and I believe that it is only through the help and support of others that one can come to terms with their grief.

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  15. I know what it’s like to sit in an ICU waiting room feeling helpless. I know what it’s like to sit by a loved one’s side watching them rapidly deteriorate. I know what it’s like to watch your entire world change in the blink of an eye.
    It was a Saturday morning as I was on my way to work that I got the call. My dad was in the intensive care unit. Trying to settle the thought in my mind, I told myself that this was the right place for him to be, the best place for him to be. I had seen people in the hospital before, and it had never bothered me. With my dad it was different. He was hooked up to what seemed to be a thousand machines, tubes breathing for him, feeding him. The doctors told us that he had a twenty percent chance of surviving, and for some reason a part of me just knew that my life would never be the same. It was that night that my dad died.
    No one can prepare you for what it’s like to lose a parent, you can’t even prepare yourself. I never imagined that I would have to say one last goodbye to my dad, I never thought that at seventeen I would have to help plan my dad’s funeral. I had lost the man that taught me to always push myself, to never settle. I had lost my biggest supporter.
    Losing my dad taught me more than I could have ever imagined. As a child I always grew up believing that my dad was infallible, essentially I took him for granted. Looking back, I’ve learned to appreciate the people that are in your life, to never just assume that you will always have another day to tell them you love them. My dad taught me a lot in a short amount of time. Now, I am expected to take the lessons that he taught me, and apply them to my new reality. In doing so, I have been forced to confront situations independently and with confidence. Also, I now have to make decisions for myself, hoping that I am doing what my dad would have wanted, using the lessons he taught me. In the process of losing my father figure, I had to adapt to be my own role model, which encompassed making my own decisions, and trusting they they were the right ones.

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  16. “Every time I have two children, God takes one away from me.” These twelve words from my beautiful mother haunt me every day. These twelve make me who I am. When I came into this world, my family was extremely broken. My parents had lost two children prior to my birth. My remaining brother, Nicholas, began to have extreme behavioral problems after their death,as well as problems with sharing. My mother was completely broken, and my father felt guilty for being unable to protect his sons. However, no matter what was going on with them, they always put themselves second and parented my brother and I to the best of their ability. I believe that my parents are some of the strongest people on this entire Earth, and if I learned one thing from them, it’s that there is nothing that you can’t get through during your time on Earth.
    As the years have gone on, my parents have always been extremely vocal about how my existence has helped the family heal. After I was born, my brother’s behavioral issues simmered down, and he was more easily able to share with other students. My mother says I was a gift sent from God, because my parents conceived me at a time when it was scientifically impossible to.
    My parents have always used music as an outlet for healing. Luckily, this was also passed down to my brother and I. From such a young age, I was singing passionately and enjoying music for the majority of my time. I had so many CDs and I was constantly popping them into my Barbie radio and playing them.
    As I grew older, I started participating in music programs. I was involved with my school chorus as well as an outside chorus that I was lucky enough to sing with them at a Red Sox game. Music quickly became my passion, and I enjoyed every second of it.
    Music is my healer. Throughout my process of grieving the loss of two brothers I never met and grieving my family’s loss as well, I’ve found comfort in music. I’m now in a band, and we play out 2-3 times a week. I believe that as long as you find healthy coping mechanisms and give yourself some time to heal, you can overcome anything.

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    • First off, I want to say that I am so sorry for the losses your family had to endure. I also want to say that music is an unbelievable thing, it can change moods, empower people, save someone’s life even. So props to you for being able to take that skill and passion you have and turn it into something so beautiful.

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  17. Growing up in a family of five girls wasn’t as easy as it seems. It was never quiet. My oldest sister, Rachel, and I were definitely the closest. Similar to everyone else who enters high school, she became exposed to the peer pressure, drama, and temptations of the teen life. In the last few months of her senior year, everything changed. At first, it wasn’t noticeable, but it quickly became a problem. She began coming home late and would constantly be too tired to do anything. For years after high school, Rachel continued to struggle to get help for a drug addiction and was constantly in and out of rehabilitation homes and hospitals. Eventually, she was able to pull her life together and change her life.
    We became distant as I entered high school. In high school, my grades during ninth grade were particularly higher than most, until they took a turn for the worst. On May 27, 2016, I left class early to devastating news. I sat there staring off in dismay. Tears started to form in my eyes. I could feel them slowly fall down my face. I couldn’t believe it. Rachel, my older sister, my best friend… has died. I didn’t want to believe it. Being apart from her for so long made it seem so surreal. Although my sister didn’t get the chance to live out her life, I believe she has made me who I am today and still inspires me to live every day as if every moment matters.

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  18. Ever since I was little, my family’s saying has been “everything happens for a reason”. This is something that to this day I still believe to be true. I truly feel as though each and every human on the earth has been put here for a purpose and God has a plan for all of us. It sometimes can be very easy to question this belief especially when the situation you’re in may seem to have no chance of improving. In February of 2005, I had to witness something that no other four year old child should have to ever see. In the middle of the night, my dad had discovered that my mom had not been breathing. Without hesitation my dad immediately dialed 9-1-1 and frantically began to explain the current situation. I sat on the bed watching as my dad began to attempt to resuscitate my mother, confused as to why she wasn’t waking up. In the matter of minutes, policemen, firemen, and paramedics were rushing into our apartment to attempt to bring my mother back to life. I remember sitting in my living room filled with my weeping loved ones who were telling me that everything would be okay as my mother was being rushed to the hospital. As I sat in the brightly lit waiting room at St. Luke’s Hospital, I was surrounded by anxious family members attempting to help distract me. As I was coloring, I remember seeing the doctor come out to give my dad and the rest of my family the devastating news that would soon destroy the small amount of hope everyone was grasping on to. Suddenly every person in the waiting room was uncontrollably crying and hugging one another. At such a young age, I was having trouble grasping everything up until that moment. It was then that I knew my loving mother who I had just been laughing with as we watched America’s Funniest Home Videos hours ago, had passed away from a heart attack. After my mother’s passing, I began to question the phrase “everything happens for a reason”. I couldn’t quite grasp the reason as to why God had decided to take her off this earth. My mother was still very young and never received the chance to watch me grow up. As time passed, I began to realize that even though she is not here physically, she is watching over me every day. I believe that my mother is now my guardian angel and will always guide me on the right path. Although she could not be here to see all my accomplishments in life so far, I know she is always watching and I hope that I have continuously made her proud. As I continue my education and begin my next journey into college, I know that she will be there every step of the way, and for that I am forever grateful.

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    • Dear Alexandria, We are so sorry for your loss. Losing your mother is devastating for anyone, but we are grateful to see that your perspective continues to guide you positively.

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  19. You could say that Grief and I are longtime friends. We met in 2010 and have been close friends ever since. Throughout my whole life I’ve lost 8 people that were truly dear to my heart, some were friends & some were family. It all started when I lost my favorite uncle and my cousin who was also my best friend in the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, that was the event that just caused a domino effect of grief in my life. Just recently, the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s death had come upon us, and released more emotions that I never knew was there. As you can see I never really went into much detail on what each and every death was and the impact they had on me. The reason for that is because for me it is always hard to describe a life that once was, to describe the memories that we had, and the memories that we will never be able to make. At the age of 9 I never understood what grief was, I never knew what it exactly meant. But as the years went on, with every death, I finally had an understanding of what loss and grief really meant. What I believe is that loss and grief are a necessary part of our lives it helps us cope with the emotions that our minds can not process and our bodies can not handle. Grief is one of those emotions that you can not suppress because it is inevitable. Grief allows the ones left behind to celebrate the memories of those that left. Grief & Loss allows us to be human, it allows us to love even more, and never take anything for granted. The loss that I have endured, and the grief I had encounter taught me to love myself and the people around me even more because we never know what tomorrow holds. It taught me to live my life to the fullest because in today’s society we never know which day will be our last. Lastly it taught me to welcome grief and loss with open arms rather than pushing it away, because it is inevitable; and how we encounter it, is what matters. I want to end this with a saying that I truly believe sums up grief and loss, which is “once was will forever be in our hearts”.

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  20. Up until age 16, I had never lost anyone meaningful in my life. The most loss I had felt up to that point was my dead goldfish when I was 5. I had always assumed that it would be someone who I didn’t have as much of a connection with when compared to my other relatives. I was wrong. My relationship with my grandfather was the strongest a grandson could have. He was born in Scotland, a fan of Glasgow Celtic Football Club, a very talented artist, and was greatly responsible for inspiring my passionate faith in God. I had more meaningful conversations with him than with any other member of my family, besides my mother. I saw myself in him, and he saw himself in me. Kidney cancer took him from us on November 13th 2017. I was sitting in my living room when I got the news. My Step-Father walked in with his top lip folded inwards in a look of shared grief, and the disbelief of what he was about to tell us. I immediately knew what was going on. I froze, stuck in between hundreds of intense emotions, many of which I had never felt with this intensity before. Anxiety and depression, anger and frustration. Dread. One more was looming above them, a tall, dark, unfamiliar figure which I would come to know as loss. Many people describe the five stages of grief when someone dies. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. At that moment I felt all but one. I didn’t cry. My body was too consumed with the storm going on in my brain to even realize what it was supposed to do in this situation. I was left with the feeling that the whole death process; (wake, funeral, and burial) would go by at an agonizing, slow pace. Instead, it darted by. Yet somehow I can remember every moment of those 2 days better than any other days in memory. Each instant was postmarked with a different emotion. Disbelief and shock when I first saw his body at the wake. Defeat as we drove home. Morbid confusion during the funeral. Overwhelming responsibility and hopelessness as we carried his casket into the hearse. When I stood by my family at the cemetery in the cold November wind I felt like I would never feel happy again. Lastly, deep, deep sadness as I saw the casket for the last time. But eventually, time passes, and so did those emotions. As the feelings began to dissipate, I was left with a question. Why? Why do people die? The answer found me when I was kneeling in prayer at Sunday Mass in December. People die so that their values can be passed down to those who have yet to need those values in their lives. His values found me in the dissipation of my emotions. Disbelief of seeing his body was overcome by my grandfather’s ability to accept anyone regardless of their differences. Defeat was replaced by the way he celebrated even the littlest victories. Confusion was beaten by my grandfather’s wisdom and cleverness. Hopelessness conquered by his undying faith. Eternal melancholy was routed by his ability to make anybody laugh. Lastly, the deepest of sadness that I felt when I saw my grandfather for the very last time was replaced by the powerful smile he wore on his face every day, and the realization that I still see my grandfather every single day. In the morning, when I wipe the excess shaving cream off of my face, and look up into the mirror.

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  21. Losing my role model was the worst thing that ever happened to me. My dad and I always had a strong bond together. I looked up to him as if he was a superhero. This all changed when me and him got into a car accident. Just thinking back as I write this gives me goosebumps. All I could remember was a lady crying for help and me trying to figure out what had just happened. I had blood and glass all over me and I looked around to see where my dad was. Right before I seen him laying on the ground next to me I blacked out. I managed to wake up at the hospital to my mom and brothers crying. I could barely see out of my left eye and I thought I had lost my eye. Once I was fully awake my brother came up to me in tears. My brother knew how much my dad meant to me and how heart broken I would be if he didn’t make it. At first it was too hard for my brother to tell me what happened but then I demanded him to tell me where my dad. He whispered in my ear and said he didn’t make it. Once those words left his mouth I was in complete shock. I thought it was a dream so I started pinching myself and doing everything possible for me to wake up. Sadly I couldn’t take it anymore and just broke down into pieces. The pain I felt was like me getting stabbed in the heart a thousand times. After recovering from the accident I had to learn how to be a man at the age of 9. Since my father wasn’t around anymore I took it upon myself to take his spot in the house. My brothers made sure that I was okay all the time and always kept an eye out on me. My father taught me a lot and one thing that will always stick with me is always show people what you want people to show you which is love. Now that I’m attending college I want to show him that I’m capable of being successful and willing to chase my dreams. I hope I am able to return the favor and make my father proud as he watches over me.

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  22. The concept of loss can be understood in many different ways. There is no universal understanding, and there is more than one way to grieve. When I was young my idea of loss was death. I lost my Grandfather at a young age, and I wasn’t fully able to comprehend what loss was , and what it meant to me. The idea of grieving was not even something I could begin to process. My idea of loss, and how to grieve came later in my life with the loss of my Grandmother.
    Growing up my Grandmother would come from Buffalo to spend time, and watch my siblings and me six months out of every year. My Grandmother helped me with my homework, and most importantly made my childhood as happy as it could be. Anything and everything I wanted my Grandmother would give me. Every time I was upset or frustrated my Grandmother could calm me down in an instant. Some of my happiest memories of my childhood revolve around my Grandmother. That happiness of my childhood ended for me at the age of eleven.
    One morning I was at breakfast with my father to celebrate my eleventh birthday. He told me my Grandmother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Being young I asked questions, and I learned the sad truth of what this disease would do to my Grandmother. Alzheimer’s took my Grandmother from me before she passed away, and my understanding of loss began to change.
    The next few years that followed I watched her slowly deteriorate. At first my Grandmother slowly began to lose her memory, and still came to visit us six months of every year. The first loss I experienced was when she rapidly began to decline, and it became unsafe for her to come stay with us, or live in her own home. As she began to decline I lost my Grandmother. I lost the woman I was so attached, and drawn to.
    I began my grieving process before she had passed because I began to lose her before her passing. At a young age I developed an understanding of loss some people will never have to experience. Grief is still a concept that I struggle with, but I have gained a better understanding of what grief is, and the harm it can cause you.
    Through the loss of my Grandmother I have learned to make even the smallest moments count because you never know when you may lose someone. I have learned to not be trapped in your grief because it will make the process of loss so much harder. Loss is uncontrollable, and loss is different for everyone. I have learned to be open to hearing other people’s stories of loss because their idea may be entirely different from mine.

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  23. About a year today… I can remember it so clearly. July 15th, the day after my birthday I was blowing out my candles on that oreo ice cream cake with a giant smile on my face. Surrounded by family as they told me to make a wish. It’s not every day you turn 17. Another year, another change. Although.. one of the worst changes in my life.

    It wasn’t until a couple of hours later I heard a scream coming from my kitchen. Alarmed, I ran to the source to discover my mother and my brother in tears finding out one of my brothers killed himself. I… just couldn’t believe it. What were they talking about? There was no way.

    I have three siblings. Two of which I grew up with. Being the youngest, my two brothers took me under their wing. Protecting me, teaching me. annoying me. It was all family love, until everyone grew up, we naturally spread apart to live our lives. They would get their own place and move on.

    I’ve never been so overwhelmed with grief and hatred against the world on the night of when I last saw him. Laying in his casket showered with flowers and loving messages.

    About a year today… I can’t fully say if I’m done grieving for my loss. Only time and the support from my friends and family can heal a wound so deep. But I did learn the worth of someone’s life. I know, it’s generic to say “don’t take life for granted”. But you never know the true pain, unless it gets taken away from you. So please, cherish your friends, your family, any of your loved ones to fullest of your heart’s content.

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    • Dear Hannah, I am so sorry for your loss and you will likely carry that grief with you, but it will change and so will you and it may be a positive force in your life. Our condolences.

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  24. My mother took the role of being my father and mother as a single parent. She had supported me throughout my child hood and made sure I had everything I would ever need and feel secure in life. Although I didn’t have a father in my life to have a relationship with and to look up to, I did have my uncle Paul. I lived with my uncle Paul so I basically saw him every day. Throughout my child I looked up to my uncle Paul. He would play with me all the time and even pick me up from school sometimes. This might not seem like anything but when I was younger, I looked up to my uncle and literally thought he was the coolest person ever. He was the father role model that made me feel secure that he was never going to leave me like my dad did when I was a baby. He made me realize that I can always be my goofy self no matter what. He was my hero. I just remember as a kid he would sit at the kitchen table and build all these different types of Lego buildings and cars with me. As you can see, I was really close with my uncle and we use to call each other best friends. The day I found out my uncle was dead I was heartbroken. It was just an ordinary day when I was at a soccer tournament. Our team won the game and decided to go out to eat after. My mom got a call from my uncle’s girlfriend saying he wouldn’t pick up the phone and the house was locked and he was inside not answering anything. She didn’t have a key so my mom told me she had to go home real quick and I would be going to my coach’s house to hang out with his daughter. I didn’t think anything was up because I thought I was going to just go hang out with my friend but I started to wonder when she would come to pick me up because a couple hours went by and I was still at my friend’s house. My mom finally came and got me and I knew something was up but couldn’t quite tell yet. As a I got home, she took me to her room. She told me that my uncle Paul has passed away. This news was so shocking to me. I was confused and sad at the same time. I just saw him the day before and he was perfectly fine. She told me he passed away in his sleep so he wasn’t hurt at all. This was one of the saddest days of my life. All I remember was people stopping by to bring food for comfort. My Uncle was a very known person so a lot of people was checking up on us. The day of his funeral it was a really emotional day. Right when I walked in and saw my uncle laying in his casket I started to cry so much. It appeared to be my uncle but at the same time it wasn’t. It didn’t smell like him and plus he was ice cold. After that day I have learned my uncle is always watching over me and my family. Also, to honor my uncle we have had a golf tournament for 5 years because that was his favorite sport. I have learned in life as I got older you never know what you have until you lose it and how you appreciate the little things in life so much. I will always appreciate having those days that didn’t seem like I was doing much but I will always cherish them. I miss my uncle every day and will always honor his life by releasing balloons on the day he pasted. I believe if you remember all the good times you had with a special person it allows you to grieve and eventually recover from the death you have had in your family. I still have the Legos I built with my uncle on my shelf in my room and it reminds me all the good times I had with him.

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  25. Saudade

    Saudade is the word that has no true translation in any language. Saudade is the longing I have for you to come back to my life. Saudade is the feeling I have when we all sit at dinner together and you can’t make it. Saudade is what kills me when I think of all the times I could’ve spent more with you. Saudade is wearing your clothes just to smell your scent one last time. Saudade is waking up to a picture of you on my bedside, just so I don’t ever forget your face. Saudade is remembering all that you did for me and grasping for air, just wanting to create one last memory with you. Saudade is wishing there was a better way to say goodbye. Saudade is hoping that one day missing you will get better. Saudade is my stomach turning thinking of all the times I was ungrateful of having you. Saudade is beating myself up for all the times I could’ve have been more patient with you. Saudade is a stream of tears running down your face for months and all the years to come. Saudade is not being able to share my growth with you. Saudade is knowing that nothing I do will ever bring you back. Saudade is what makes my heart ache every time I pass by your grave.
    Saudade is what is teaching me not to do in the future, what keeps me from being grateful for what I have. Saudade is smiling every time I see something that reminds me of you. Saudade is remembering all the jokes, you told to laugh at them again. Saudade is knowing you are always watching my achievements. Saudade is loving what you have before you no longer have it. Saudade is you always being in my heart .

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  26. As unfortunate as it is for me to admit, I believe that recent events prove humanity is on the fast track to repeating catastrophic mistakes that make up our shared history. Recently, and many times before, our world has been forced to bear continual witness upon an ugliness which permeates every level of society. One must only shift the blame for it to be quickly forgotten by the masses, and the cycle to begin again. This is because this ugliness is so deep-rooted in our nature, that it remains physically impossible to deem responsibility to any one person or group. This has created a dangerous and self-perpetuating cycle, and we have lost our dignity towards one another. Our actions have allowed the sores of our past to fester, to the point where acts of bigotry and violence have become commonplace. We have allowed our personal opinions to blind us and create a veil, and we have clouded our ability to see reason in others’ perspectives. Writer and philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” This should be a familiar phrase, but remembering the past is only half of our struggle, as the lessons left to us have been warped into morally lax narratives that allow ourselves to behave in manners unbecoming of our progressions. Therein lies a message that applies to every one of us: If we continue to act ugly towards one another, the only future that is left is our own destruction.

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  27. Many people have childhood memories of vacations with their family and playing with friends. I know my childhood contains those joyous moments, but all I can remember is calling an ambulance on multiple occasions, hospital trips, and vacations with a father on the brink of death. In early 2006 my father and I went on a trip to the hospital so he could get an MRI which would be taken by my mother. I had no idea what was going on, but when I saw the distressed look on my mother’s face I knew something was wrong. For the next two years I could never really comprehend what was happening. Why were we going on so many vacations? Why am I pushing my dad in a wheelchair? Why is there a hospital room in our spare room? It felt as if this was my life from now on. On that sunny August morning in 2008 I went downstairs to say good morning to my father as usual, only this time I saw my mother and sister crying over him. With one family member missing, I was forced to grow up at a young age; becoming independent before I was even 10. My whole family had to become independent. We don’t let our loss haunt us to this day, the loss has made us all stronger. My story is a reminder to myself and to anyone that needs it to not let your past define and control you. Don’t let loss stop you from living.

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  28. Growing up, I heard a lot of friends complain about being forced to spend time with their relatives during the holidays. I did not initially understand why they felt so dismayed because none of my relatives live close by anymore, and the relatives that did were genuinely kind and thoughtful people. That all changed in April when my grandmother came to America.
    My grandmother lived in Greece, and in 2008 she became ill, so she moved to the US to live with us for a couple of months before she passed away. She died from Primary Amyloidosis, which is a rare and incurable disease, but she was not diagnosed until after she had passed.
    A day later, my grandfather passed away as well. He had lived in Arizona for most of his life. He had died after a long journey with ALS, and similar to my grandmother could not be cured. Before he passed, my mother called him. I insisted on talking to him, and when I was finally able to say hello, he had no recollection of who I was. I felt devastated because a loved one that was there for my birth had no idea he had a granddaughter.
    While I do not have any clear memories of my grandparents, I know I hold them both very close in my heart. While these events are tragic in nature, they taught me to value my life and the people around me much more than I could have understood when I was younger. Life is a beautifully complex collection of events that shape us all, and this is one of them. This experience does not define me, but is a part of me.

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  29. I have been attending a summer camp for twelve years of my life, six as a camper and six as a counselor. As the years progressed, new faces joined the staff and old faces left. One constant over the past twelve years was a counselor named John. John just had an incredible presence at camp. He always knew what to say to kids to cheer them up. He was just very warm and friendly. I usually asked him for advice on how to be a better counselor. He would tell me to be myself. His catchphrase at camp was, “Powerful!!!”
    When I arrived at orientation last month, I noticed a familiar face was missing: John. The program director and also my boss, Sam, addressed John’s absence rather quickly at the beginning of orientation. John has been battling cancer since this spring. Sam sounded hopeful that John was going to make a full recovery, even saying that John may even make an appearance at the end of the summer. Near the end of July, I noticed that John’s girls had not been going to work. I feared the worst, but I still believed that John would pull through. He’s John after all, I thought.
    A few days later, Sam pulled the staff aside and said that John passed away peacefully on the morning of August 2nd, 2019. We all broke down sobbing. He meant everything to the camp. However, camp continued on. John taught me the value in being myself and, unknowingly, to truly appreciate the time we have with those we love. This summer, the camp has been incredibly powerful.

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  30. Growing up as kids, having both parents present was something that was normal in almost all families. Kids have the chance to call out for their moms and dads. That’s how life was for me till the age of 8. Never in my life did I think that I might be losing my father soon to some sickness that could have been prevented. But that’s what ended happening, I lost my father at a very young age. The man that kept the family upright had suddenly left us. The next man in the family was me, but I had no idea on what to do to help my mom. All I could do at that time was console her. While both of us were grieving, the thought of stepping up to be the man of the house was always on my mind. I was going to have to step up and become something that wasn’t ready to be. As I grew up I began to learn things for myself that my dad had not taught me. I was actually useful to my mom when I was growing up. I was doing the heavy lifting for her, which was usually the job for my dad. I also found myself changing my moms car tires that was when I knew that I had become the person wanted to be when I grew up. I realized that no matter how much me and mom grieve over the passing of my father, there comes a time where we would have to move and live the lives he wanted us to live and just leave him to rest in peace.

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  31. I’ve never been the best in situations involving the passing of loved ones, which nobody ever does. But until I witnessed all my loved ones in such heartache at such a young age, I didn’t know what death really meant. I didn’t realize the meaning of someone passing away or what had happened at the time. Sometimes life’s greatest tragedies make us stronger individuals.
    I always took for granted the fact that my cousin Mikey and I would grow up together. We were incredibly close, he was like a brother to me. A young boy around the age of three; short, brown eyes, dirty blonde hair with a very sweet and loving demeanor. How could a three year old be harmed the way he was when he had yet to live such a long life? Mikey was a very special child, he was always happy and giving, even at such a young age. If anyone in the family was down Mikey was always there for help and encouragement.
    Mikey passed away due to a tragic drowning accident after slipping and falling into a pool. It was the hardest thing my family had to endure to this day. My mom said that Mikey and I were inseparable. She said even though I was really young I felt the loss deeply. I didn’t know what to do without him. Our family was grief stricken. We had so many questions; Why Mikey?, Why so young? Why now?
    A few months later, my family still grieving, my Great Aunt and Uncle decided to get a statue to represent Mikey. It was a little boy holding a fragile butterfly in his small hand. This was placed in memory of Mikey, in the middle of a neighborhood that my Great Aunt and Uncle built with their company. Our whole family was together for the Thanksgiving holiday so it was a perfect time to dedicate Mikey’s Way in honor of my cousin! Our family always said Mikey was with us whenever we see a butterfly. Our family still thinks of Mikey – he will never be forgotten. I believe life’s greatest tragedies make us stronger as an individual. Growing up and finding out the real story of what happened to Mikey makes me understand and realize how fragile life can be. I live each day to the fullest knowing that life can be taken away from you in a blink of the eye.

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  32. When I was younger, my dad and I were always close. We would have our little inside jokes and play our favorite games and we would do almost everything together. I viewed my dad as my best friend, my role model, and my idol. All of that changed when my dad and my mom got a divorce when I was in middle school. My mom got full custody of my sisters and I, and that meant that my dad has to move out. I had new obstacles to face, like splitting up the holidays with both sides of my family and having to plan time to specifically spend with my dad. Looking back now, I feel as if I chose my mom over my dad since I didn’t get to see him as much anymore and I only heard my mom’s side of the story. Because of this, I would blame my dad for things even if they weren’t his fault. I solely blamed him for making my life more difficult and complicated. My view of him completely changed; Instead of looking up to him and viewing him as my personal hero, he became a person I despised and didn’t trust. But even with all the negative feelings I had toward him, a part of me thought that one day in the future, my dad and I would be able to reconcile and fix our relationship. However, my hope to repair my relationship with my dad ceased when he passed away earlier this year.
    I believe in second chances. People make mistakes, but they also grow and learn from their experiences. I’m not saying to forgive them right away but make sure you at least give them a chance to explain themselves and try to make amends. And I only wish I could’ve gave my dad a second chance before he was gone.

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  33. August 9th had to be the worst night of my life. As I watched Simone Biles get the gold medal wrapped around her neck I suddenly heard a loud scream from my living room. My sister and I were eager to know what all the fuss and commotion was about. When they finally told us what was going on my heart completely stopped at that very moment. I couldn’t even believe what my ears had heard.Without any doubt, I quickly went outside to catch a breath of fresh air while trying to contain the gush of emotion that overcame my whole body. As I sat down on my porch for a short period of time period of time feeling sick to my stomach suddenly I let go of all the pain and immediately went bursting into tears. Head pounding, body shaking, first clenching, it was at that moment I realized a part of me had died that night. On August 9th, 2016 was the day I had lost a number one supporter, A motivator, A mentor, but last but not least the greatest older sister a girl could ever have. Dealing with the pain of losing my older sister really made me realize how to be stronger and how to keep my head held high no matter what.

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  34. Grief and loss are apart of life. Death is inevitable and can sometimes take a huge toll on people. As a little girl, I was constantly surrounded by older people who were sick or had declining health. My grandmother was in her mid-to-late 60’s and had poor health. I do not understand how but I feel as though I was comfortable with the idea that one day, I will not have her around, so, I enjoyed the very little time I had left with her expecting her death. When she passed, my cousins and I mourned her death, however, some of their parents did not allow them to go to the funeral in fear that the cadaver will traumatize them. My sister and I did not have a problem with it, my mother also seemed to be unbothered by the fact that her eight and nine year old daughters will see her mother in a casket. Seeing my grandmother lying there helped me grieve, it gave me closure that our last memory together simply cannot fill. After that, death followed many in my family, it became easier to mourn at funerals after being exposed to the environment at such a young age. I find myself to be emotionally advanced when it comes to experiencing loss compared to my peers. I cry for a bit here and there but I rarely ever allow myself to sink into those feelings of depression and despair. I find that the little things help, I like to think that my loved ones send signs here and there. But I try to remember that love comes back to me, whether in a new hobby, a favorite song, or a person, it will always come back.

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  35. Grief and loss , two words no one likes to hear. It leaves you wondering what could’ve been. You start to question everything in life all at once. Never did I think I was going to experience losing my father at the age of 15. My life was brought up in church centered around god. As a kid I was raised to believe and to follow his word. To this day I can say my beliefs are the same to some extent. After losing my father to cancer I started to question my faith and beliefs in god. I started asking questions like, “ why did you take my father away ?“ , “ why are you punishing him ?“ , “ did he not obey your word? “. After a while the pain of loss started to get easier day by day. Not to say my faith and beliefs are back to normal now , but I’m working on it everyday. The lessons that I learned from my experience is that tomorrow is never promised. To make the best of every situation in life.To always appreciate the bigger things in life. I finally learned that my dad was taken so that he wouldn’t have to suffer in this wicked world anymore. An that he’s in a better place with no complaints. He might not be here physically, but he’s always here in my heart. Through grief and loss I can tell you it hurts, and the pain will always haunt your thoughts. Just know that a bigger meaning comes out of it through it all.

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    • T’arra,
      After my mom passed away I felt the same way. My mom was very devout in her faith, and after her diagnosis with cancer said she is putting her life in God’s hands and will love and respect him no matter what. It’s hard to lose a parent at such a young age from such a horrible disease, and not question why did God, someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally, just flood you with all this pain. But like you said, we just have make the best out of every situation we are given.

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      • I’m really sorry about your father. I felt/ still feel the same way. At the time I was angry and so confused as to why he took my father from me, what did he do that made it necessary for him to pass the way he did. I still don’t understand it and it still hurts. But I do know that god has a plan and even though we don’t know why he does things sometimes, its for a reason

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  36. I will never forget those last few days; they will forever be branded into my mind. The beeping of the monitors, the stifled sobs, the sound of forced breathing, and the strong grasp of my aunt’s arms around me. In the middle of the room lay my mom, fading away after two years of fighting from stage four cancer. I felt like crumbling into a ball, wanting to just forget about everything. When you lose someone as deeply connected to you, as my mom was to me, it almost seems like there is nothing that will ever heal the pain that you are enduring. When I felt the smallest, and the world just came crashing down on me, my friends and family came and helped me adapt to not only the new role in my family but the new challenges that life will now hold for me.
    As the community rallied to help my family through the loss of my mom, I still struggled. My mom, in her two years of fighting this disease, never got upset, she was always positive and put her life in God’s hands. My mom was the strongest person I have ever, and will ever know. I knew she wouldn’t want me to be upset about her death and just give up. In that moment, I chose to change my attitude and better myself. The thing about losing someone is, that you really ever get over it, there is always that slight bit of pain. Grief and loss is what shapes you into the person you are; what you do with that pain and all these emotions shows the world what kind of person you are. Me, I’m one of the strongest people out there.

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  37. Throughout our lives we are faced with many losses, at the age of one my mother was shot by a police officer. At such a young age the most important women in my life was taken away from me. Since the day my mother passed, my life has changed dramatically. I moved out of my grandmothers house when I was eleven due to drive-byes and multiple shootings that took place around my neighborhood. While growing up I lost family members close to me and friends. A life lost is a terrible thing that we as humans have faced and gone through forever. Instead of dragging my feet, dropping my head and curling into a ball I choose to handle death in a different way. Why be mad and sad all the time? The people we lose would rather watch over us as we laugh and enjoy life instead of living life with a heavy heart. I live everyday with a smile on my face ready for what the day has in-store for me. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so why waste the time we have on this beautiful planet. If it wasn’t for these awful experiences that Ive lived through, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today and thats why I believe that everything in this world happens for a reason. Sometimes you must take a few steps back, to take a couple steps forward. We all move back and fourth until finally its our time to finish the game.

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  38. As I grew up I had several friends who lost their parents suddenly or to illness, never did I ever think something so tragic would happen to me. My dad passed away three years ago during my freshmen year of high school while I was at dance class just a week before I was suppose to go on a vacation to Disney World and only 2 days before my 15th birthday. A lot of emotions rush through your body when you go through loss, I however began to regret how I ever treated my Dad. Just the day before he passed I got upset with him for going to my brothers hockey tournament over going to my dance competition. The day he passed he picked me up from school early to make up for it and took me out to get our daily coffees from Dunkin Donuts. When he drove me to dance later that evening he told me he loved me before I shut the car door and ran into the studio. That moment replays in my brain daily because I can not even recollect if I said that I loved him back. I was not even half way through my dance class when my Uncle walked in to the studio and told me he needs to take me to the hospital and that something happened with my Dad. I was so confused as I sat in the backseat for 30 minutes from the studio to the hospital. I was too scared to check my phone because I had the feeling something was really wrong. I knew my Dad was gone as soon as I walked through the hospital lobby and saw the look on my Mom’s face.
    Flash forward two days on my birthday and I opened up my Dad’s present that he got me. The reason he missed my dance competition the day before he passed is because he drove two hours to pick up this necklace at a jewelry store and there was not enough time to make it back to the dance competition in time. I wear the necklace every day as a reminder to be a better person and to remember my Dad. I believe that everybody should strive for kindness and to be a better version of themselves every day. After realizing I unfairly was so mean to my Dad for not being there at my dance competition was not worth it and he did not deserve that because he was going out of his way to make me happy. After 3 years I still just want to be a better person for my Dad and have a big heart like his. I believe people should look for the good in every situation like I should have with my Dad

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  39. I believe in grief and loss. When I was only nine years old my mother had passed away. Even though I was young and she wasn’t apart of my life, it still affected me immensely. At first I couldn’t actually comprehend what had happened. Yet when I became older I was fully aware of what happened and why it had happened. Never in my life had I actually experienced raw emotion. It began to affect me in ways I did not think possible. I became angry at the world, at my mother for being selfish and stupid with her life decisions. At my dad for not telling me what had originally happened. My dad being a firm believer of God, made me go to CCD when I was in sixth grade. Little late to the game, as most kids go to ccd early in their childhood. I became angry with God, why would he allow for the taking of someone’s life. Nothing made sense to me. When kids at school began to question why I had never talked about my mom during class, I told them what happened, why I never talked about her, why I always got quiet when everyone would talk about their parents. It wasn’t easy for me to open up to people about something so utterly painful to me, but I did. Hoping that talking to people would help, but no one really understood what I was going through except one person. My best friend. Her mom also passed away when she was young. We understood the situation more than everyone else. Saying “I’m sorry” didn’t mean too much considering no one actually knew what it felt like.
    Even though something so tragic had happened, I learned from it. Being exposed to the raw emotions that I was, I learned to become empathic with other people. Although it had taken something so cruel to understand, I benefited from it. To be empathetic with others’ pain is one of the greater values to one’s life. Grief and loss made me a stronger person.

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  40. Loss had been a pretty common thing in my family ever since I was small. When I was eight, my father committed suicide. A few years later, my aunt, who was like a mother to me, died of MS. The year after, my grandfather died of natural causes and my grandmother followed soon after. I won’t go into any more detail, but I lost a cousin, a younger brother, and an uncle in car accidents in the years that followed. By the time I was a junior in high school, I had lost seven close family members; I was emotionally destroyed after each and every one. But I refused to see a psychologist of take any depression medication or anything like that. I powered through and persevered. I came out stronger than I went in and overall I am now a better person. Let my life be proof to anyone that there is always a way to persevere and achieve your goals.

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  41. High school can and was pretty tough but for all the reasons that I didn’t expect. Losing friends is something which no one prepares you for. Although it was not the loss of life it was the loss of a friendship. It was odd as I didn’t really understand what was happening. The friends that I have had for the past 10 or so years of my life just all got up and unanimously kicked me out of the friend group which I had worked hard to form and help grow. The reasons that they gave were unfair and unjust and I had no one to turn too or anything I could say didn’t seem to help. I have lost close family and friends in the past and It took me a while to realize that there are different types of grief and loss and that I was experiencing a type of loss. I know it wasn’t the same thing as a loss of a family member or a loved one, I found that it was very insightful as it showed how everyone goes through something different as I found myself going through the stages of mourning and yet it was a different type of loss then one would think. It made me more self-reflective and more aware of the situations that people can be in.

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  42. I lost my grandmother my sophomore year of high school. I loved her with my entire heart, her death absolutely destroyed me because it all happened so suddenly. I would walk to her house after softball practice and visit her. She never failed to give me the best advice after I ranted to her about my day and transferring to a new high school, she would just throw out her bits of wisdom and then we’d sit back and watch Jeopardy. Everything was fine until she slipped on her rain covered porch and broke her hip. She was sent to the hospital and everyone was shaken up about how we never thought that the backbone of our family could ever end up in the hospital. She had surgery and when the hospital went to relocate her for rehabbing her mobility, she got pneumonia. Growing sicker and sicker with each passing day, her once wise words and witty remarks slowly turned into a low moaning of consistent pain. Everyone knew that the end for our beloved grandmother was coming soon. The entire family surrounded her in her last moments, and I will never forget the sound of the steady monitors turning into one, consistent, heart wrenching flatline. I had so many hopes, I wanted her to watch me walk the stage with my hard earned diploma in one hand, while waving to her and the rest of my family with the other. I had so many things that I never got the chance to tell her. You have no idea how badly I want her to tell me one last time “be a dear and put my tea in the microwave for 15 seconds” or hear her yell at the TV when she knew the answers to Jeopardy. I miss her so much, but I know she would be so proud of me today, getting into Nursing school and finally living out the childhood dreams I always ranted to her about. Don’t take your loved ones for granted because you never know when they’ll be taken away from you.

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  43. This topic hits really close to home. last summer, a few days before the new school year started my dad had passed away due to an intoxicated driver. my dad was one out four that were killed. This tragic event had a significant impact on me, including my school work and social life. I isolated myself from a good amount of people and wanted to be alone. Every once in awhile my emotions would be stable enough to hang out with friends. One of my closest friends would get furious that I was spending too much time being by myself and not enough time with them to sum things up. They would act as if I wasn’t going through a though time and would ignore my signs of grief. I eventually ended the friendship after many months of dealing with other problems in our friendship that they were also oblivious to them as well. Even though a tragedy occurred, the outcome was very eye opening and many lessons were learned. One of them being you won’t understand the feeling of a loss until it happens to you, the other one was that not everyone is your friend and has your best interest at heart. I believe that everyone should be able to deal with a loss in their own way and have people that are there to support them.

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  44. With life comes death, right? So knowing this you assume you can prepare yourself for a death. Wrong there is no preparation that can get you ready for a death. On June 16th, 2015 I lost one of my biggest supporters and mostly my biggest motivator. That motivator was my Aunt; when I was younger I was with her more than my parents.
    Losing someone so close and meaningful to you really sparks a personal and mental challenge, it can either motivate you to be better or overrule you ruining your mental state forever. This is a challenge I took on around three years ago and I promised myself I would not let death bring me down so I used it as motivation to grow as a person, and look at life with a open mind knowing death can come at anytime.
    Watching her pass away so unexpectedly so quickly really showed me that bad things can come at any moment no matter how hard you try to ignore it or shun it away. This opened my eyes to another understanding of what I really am, death taught me to never take advantage of what you have and to appreciate life itself embracing every moment that happens positive or negative. I try to savor the experiences and people who are part of my present moments as much as possible. I know that death can summon me at anytime; I use that knowledge to live a better life where I can be of service to others. I also view the passage of time differently. I used to think that time heals all wounds, but today I believe otherwise. I will never be completely healed from the struggle of my Aunts death, nor will my world return to the way it was when she was here..

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  45. My whole life I did not know my dad. It never bothered me in the past, maybe because I didn’t realize anything was different thanks to my wonderful mother, but when I lost her when I was 11, I was broken. It had always been my mom, brother Nathan, and I all my life, so when I lost her, I didn’t know what to do. I knew a handful of people who has also lost a parent, but non had lost one and never had the other. This only amplified my grief. Instead of remaining in the same house with one of my parents I now had to pick up my life and relocate elsewhere. The grief changed me. It opened my eyes. I was smarter and stronger for the better and a lot more of a realist for better or for worse. I know for sure that if I never went through this change I would not be the person I am today. I would give the world to get my mom back including the person I am, but since I can’t, I’m more than happy to embrace who I’ve become and I feel like the grief did more good than harm to me and I’m almost grateful for it, for lack of a better word.

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