Grief: It ebbs and flows but you keep on living


Kyla Harris

I still remember the night as if it were yesterday. How many ten year olds do you know that have to deal with the death of their grandmother, yet alone witness it? I’ve always heard that there are a chain of events that occur when you’re about to die, but I was not aware of them.
My grandmother was always an independent woman that would not ask for help even if she needed it, so that night when I heard her fall on the floor trying to get to the bathroom, I initially thought nothing of it. However when I felt she needed assistance, I got up, helped her, and brought her back to bed. But then she needed to use the bathroom again, so I woke my mother up because my grandmother was never that weak.
After the second time helping her to the bathroom, I brought her back to bed and put her on the breathing machine. I’ll never forget the look she gave me as if she knew what was going to happen, but just couldn’t say. She had squeezed my hand so hard and I could remember it being cold, then she shed a tear. I told her, “don’t cry because it is going to be fine.”
My mother finally got up and told me to help her with my grandmother so she could get her all cleaned up and so that’s what I did. After we got her to the bathroom and sat her on the toilet my mother and I left to go get adult diapers because she could not stop using the bathroom.
I said to my grandmother, “stay right here I’ll be right back,” and no more than two minutes later when we came back, she was gone.
I remember standing there in shock and literally feeling my heart go numb. Still to this day I cry when I speak about it because I have not healed. Loss really changes you.
UACHS senior, Keleah Hall, was five years old when she lost her mother and doesn’t recall the death, even though she still feels the emptiness.
“I was young when it happened so I didn’t really know what was going on, but growing up I had to learn how to cope with it because there is no other way to go about it,” said Hall.
Usually mothers are there to guide their daughter through rough times but Hall feels as if she missed out on those special moments.
“I sit and question myself like why couldn’t my mother be there for me when I caught my menstrual cycle, boy talk, and stuff in that category,” said Hall.
With there being five stages of grief, Hall believes she went through denial first.
“I used to always think she was coming back but I knew she wasn’t. Grieving never ends, till this day I’m still grieving. I haven’t and won’t ever get over the death of my mother, because a girl needs their mother,” said Hall.
Richard Miller, Phys-Ed & health education teacher at UACHS, recalls the passing of both of his parents and how he stays busy with his kids and other things to distract him from the devastation.
“It’s tough when you think about calling them and can’t anymore. For that one second you think you can and realize they’re gone. It’s like being kicked in the stomach,” said Miller.
Rather than being sad about his mom passing, Miller was exceptionally thankful for the additional time.
“My mom’s death was more expected because she had cancer from smoking, but I was grateful because they told her two months, but I got nine. Ultimately smoking is what got her in the end,” said Miller.
Miller reflects on the surprising passing of his Dad.
“When my father passed it hit me hard because we were close and it happened unexpectedly. The day he passed was on my wedding anniversary day,” said Miller. “He was supposed to come over to my house, but never made it so I knew something was wrong.”
Alongside Hall and Miller, Odaliz Vazquez, a history teacher at UACHS, lost her mother last year in February.
“It was really hard because she was going through chemotherapy and my family hoped that she would make it, but she was stage four. We witnessed a happy, independent and vibrant lady suffer and become totally dependent on others,” said Vazquez. “I would say the hardest part about grieving was not feeling your numbness. For a long time you have to focus on making it day by day without breaking down.”
Grieving never gets easier, and the pain can be ceaseless. The aftermath of losing someone you love is difficult.
“I don’t think grief ever ends. I think we just get better at distracting ourselves. It’s been a year and there are still days when I want to call her and hear her jokes,” said Vasquez.“There are still days that I get really sad and I have to pray myself out of it.”
Although she used prayer to get her through the hard time her students and her children helped to remind her that she doesn’t have to pretend to be a superwoman.
“When I came back from grieving, students in the school really showed me that they loved me. I came back to a whiteboard full of nice messages, students would bring me coffee and cards. It meant so much to me because it was a constant reassurance of them letting me know they had my back and they were fine with me not being okay. That really helped me,” said Vasquez.
Going through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance is one of the hardest things a person may have to go through. Grief can be overwhelming and as you go through all the stages of it, you have to learn how to continue living.
As quoted by author Vicki Harrison, “Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

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