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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

On My Mind: Love and loss 

Navigating the loss of a loved one 
Brittany Wachtel
My grandma meeting me for the first time. 

 Disclaimer: This column openly discusses death and mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which may be triggering to some readers.  

As I say in almost every column, the beauty of being human comes from the way we feel all things so deeply.  

Unfortunately, along with feeling the good comes feeling the bad.  

One of the most difficult feelings to navigate is grief.  

Grief comes in waves. One minute it feels like a small wave coming onto shore, and the next it feels like a riptide that is sucking you into the deepest of water.  

This week, I want to discuss the emotions that come with losing a loved one and how to attempt to cope with grief. 

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II 

In early 2017, my grandma was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 

Ovarian cancer, I came to find out, is called the “silent killer” since it is often not caught until it’s too late. 

I was lucky enough to have spent 12 years loving my grandma, eight of those years living with her. She was beyond selfless, an amazing cook, the hardest worker, and my biggest fan. The definition of a true matriarch.  

After a courageous eight-month battle, my grandma passed away in October 2017, exactly two months before my thirteenth birthday.  

Navigating your tweens and early teens is already difficult as is. Dealing with body image issues, mental health, and the transition to high school takes a toll on your mental wellbeing. Take all of this and add in the death of my favorite person, I was in for quite the ride. 

This was the first time I had ever had to deal with grief in a big way. Sure, I’d had a couple pets who had passed away, but nothing compared to this.  

Grief seemed as though it had completely avoided me at first. I was numb. I felt like I was just floating through life, as though a gust of wind could take me away at any moment. 

Then, like a ton of bricks, I felt it. I felt it all. Sadness, anger, confusion, guilt, all of it. 

I felt like the world was against me. How could anything ever be okay again if my best friend were gone?  

Six years later, and I still feel so many different emotions when I think about the loss of my grandma. I still don’t believe that she’s gone. I feel as though any minute now she’s going to walk through the doors and wrap me in her arms.  

The biggest thing I have learned from my experience with grief is that grief can’t be pushed down. 

You can’t pretend to not be grieving or hope that the feeling will go away, because it will continue to linger.  

I wish I had a foolproof answer on how to navigate grief, but I don’t. Grief is a beast that can never be killed, only tamed. 

To cope with grief, you have to face it head on. 

This seems impossible, especially right after a loss, when all you want to do is curl up into a ball and hide away from the world.  

All these years later, I am finally learning to not shy away from my feelings, but to allow myself to feel all the emotions that come with loss. 

Now, I feel the good, the bad, and the in-between.  

I allow myself to visit her grave and cry until I have no tears left. I listen to her favorite songs and dance as if she’s right there dancing beside me. I laugh at the memories of her on vacation after having a little too much red wine.  

Because no matter how hard it is, allowing yourself to feel all the things that you need to feel is one of the best ways to cope with grief. 

This week, my challenge for you is to allow yourself to feel. Feel the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of life. Let your mind and body react in whatever way it needs to.  

To grieve is to have loved deeply and been loved deeply, let yourself feel that love. 

Song of the week: “Hotel California” by Eagles  

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