Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dealing With Grief in College

Today's post is definitely more on the personal side, but it's definitely something I wanted to share on the blog. Going to school almost 2,000 miles away from home has been such a great decision in terms of living my dream of living in Los Angeles, however the distance will always be something I struggle with. At LMU a lot of the kids are from around the area, some only an hour or two from LA. Others are from the Bay area which is only a 6 hour drive or an hour flight to get home. For me it's nearly a four hour flight, plus transportation to and from the airport and a two hour time difference, making it usually an all day ordeal to get home. The first semester of college was the longest I had been away from home, three months in total before I went back for Thanksgiving. I had gone to camp and been away from home before, but never for longer than a week. I've never been someone to get crazily homesick, and how could I in my favorite city on the planet, but there were definitely times that I just simply wanted to go home.

My great Uncle Ed who I was very close to passed away in March, just a few weeks after I had been home for spring break. I initially had plans to go to Arizona for spring break, but they fell through just in time for me to book a flight home for the week. Although I was bummed to not explore a new place, I was at ease that I could spend my week relaxing and catching up with family and friends that were home. My Uncle had gotten cancer about a year earlier, but things seemed to be looking up. Seeing him at Christmas he was doing just fine and being his hysterical self. However, when I visited him during spring break he looked very very different. He had lost a lot of weight due to loss of appetite, was sleeping most of the day and just wasn't the person he used to be. I am forever grateful that he was able to stay awake for over an hour while my sister and I were there, telling us stories and catching up, and even eating soup with us. I was so lucky that I got to see him one last time, although I did not know it would be the last.

When I woke up to the news I can't say I was in total shock. When my Grandpa Paul passed my freshman year of high school it was so unexpected, but I knew my Uncle was sick, and I knew it was coming. I remember waking up to a missed call from my mom and a text from my sister asking if I was awake, and I already knew exactly what happened.

I think the hardest thing about dealing with this death was not being able to be with my family. Flying four hours just for the weekend, seemed like too much, especially with the thought of why I was going home lingering in my head the entire flight. Two of my other cousins are also at school far away, and my aunt decided that it was best for us not to come home for the funeral, but do a mass and a dinner when we returned from school.

For me, I never fully developed any sort of closure from this death. I think I seemed okay to those around me because I tried to not cry about it, until one night I broke down sobbing to my friend about the whole situation. What's important about these types of situations is to actually let your emotions take you over for a brief moment. I think I tried to bottle it up and just not think about it, which proved to be the worst way to go about the situation. It's through these times of trouble that it's so so important to have friends by your side, and I was so grateful I had such amazing friends that reached out to me in this situation and were there for me. Also just FaceTiming my sister about it all really helped me to talk it all through. The first major death in my family I was surrounded by family which made the situation less difficult, but in college you're kind of on your own.

For me, surrounding myself with good friends and also talking to family through the entire grieving period really helped me to get through the situation. Dealing with grief in college, is never easy, but there are definitely ways to make the entire process less difficult.


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