My mom passed away 3 days before my sophomore year of high school started. That meant that in the time when I was supposed to be going back-to-school shopping and getting my schedule in order, I spent at the funeral home with my dad, arranging the wake and funeral, helping my dad pick out her outfit, and putting together pictures to show at the wake. Her wake and funeral were the second and third days of school, so I only went to school one day that first week. It was a rough day to say the least, but it was actually kind of a blessing. It got me out of the house and focused on something besides my own grief.
As a side effect of all that, since that year, I haven’t been the biggest fan of the beginning of the school year. Every year, it reminds me of the saddest time of my life and one of the biggest struggles I have ever had to face. Fast-forward a few years, and now I am a junior in college. Each year it gets a little bit easier to start school, to almost let myself forget why it used to be so hard. But still, I have my challenges.
The day I moved into my freshman dorm was three years to the day after she died. Talk about some heavy emotions. Not only was I moving away from my family for the first time and living on my own, but I was dealing with some very real and still fresh grief. That first week was almost impossible. Thinking my next year had to be better, I didn’t look at the date I was moving in until late August. Somehow, once again, I was moving in on the anniversary of her death. This time was less traumatic for me, and it almost turned into something I felt like I shared with her. Like that was her way of messing with the universe to show me she was still with me. Finally, junior year came around, and I moved in the day after the anniversary of her death, and I was almost sad that I could not move in the day before to keep my weird tradition going.
Whether you are moving to a new place, starting at a new school, or simply starting a new year somewhere you have been before, it can be scary going into it knowing that person isn’t there for you to talk to. I would have given anything to talk to my mom about some of the things that were happening at school, just to be able to hear her opinion on them. Something a lot of people said to me was not to use my school work and extracurriculars as a way to avoid my grief. And I did not listen to a single one of them. They didn’t know what I nfeeded, and at the time, I needed to focus on something other than the thing that was the only thing I wanted to focus on. That was completely okay for me, and it is completely okay for anyone else.
Grief is a tricky thing, and if you aren’t ready to deal with it, give yourself a little bit of time. Focus on your school work, focus on your extracurriculars, or a job. Because at least if you are doing that, you are doing something productive with your time and putting some good back out into the universe. Just be careful that you don’t use those things to avoid it completely. That will only backfire and cause you more pain down the road.