It’s Okay To Feel Grief

Mackenzie Bill, asst. opinions editor

When coping with grief, it can feel like you’re all alone. At least, that’s how I felt when I had to deal with it recently.

When I was in the car with a friend a couple of weeks ago, we both realized that we had both lost a relative close to us over the summer. As we talked more and more about it, we ended up bonding in a way that we weren’t expecting.

We both realized that grief is really confusing, especially when you’re a busy high-schooler. It can be hard to truly have a “grieving process” because taking time to sit with our feelings isn’t always easy. 

Talking about grief means being willing to show a vulnerable part of yourself, not something you often find 16-year-olds cavalierly discussing at lunch. But losing someone close to us is a real and scary part of life. The “Stages of Grief” aren’t necessarily the same for everyone. Sometimes it can feel easier to push down grief and move your focus to something else.

This past summer, I dealt with the passing of a family member for the first time. I spent most of my time helping my sister and working through the funeral. I guess you could say I was only going through the motions, so my own personal process of grief was pushed to the side. It took a lot of self reflection to realize that I needed to make time for myself and be patient with myself in this process. 

These past few months, I have come to realize that grief shouldn’t be a rushed process, but more importantly, I’ve seen just how vital it is to grapple with it. 

Not only is it difficult to deal with grief, it can also be hard to respond to someone when they tell you about a loss they’re facing.

When someone tells you that they lost someone close to them, it can be awkward or feel uncomfortable. It is a private thing to share. I’ve found that the most helpful thing in making them feel better is empathizing with them.

Empathizing with your friend, if you are able to, makes them feel less alone. Make sure that you are not making it all about yourself but rather a shared experience.

When I told a friend that I had lost a relative, she asked me how I felt. I was so used to the rigid “my condolences” as a response that I was taken back when she asked me. Her question generated some self-reflection on my part, and I felt comfortable enough to answer honestly.

When my friend asked how I felt after my loss was meaningful because it encouraged me to grapple with my thoughts that I was pushing down. When asked about my feelings and emotions it can snap them out of their automatic responses. When I experienced grief and people would tell me “sorry” or “my condolences”, I got stuck in this daze of responding with “thank you” or “I’m doing okay right now” even though that wasn’t necessarily true. Although it may not work for everyone, asking a friend about their specific feelings could help them deal with some emotions they have been hiding.

As I’ve gotten older and lost a family member close to me, I have found that talking about it with my friends has actually helped me cope with grief. Working through it, like having an open discussion with my friend in the car, has made me feel less alone in my struggle. Talking to a friend who had gone through grief in a similar way personally helped me learn different ways to process it. It was reassuring to learn  what has worked for her and how she has given herself time to work through it.

It’s okay to feel grief. It is an inevitable part of the human experience. Know that you are not alone in your struggle and that it’s okay to talk to others about what you’re going through when you are ready.