Losing A Loved One in College

Losing A Loved One in College


Losing a family member is never easy, especially in college. It’s a feeling we pray that we don’t have to go through or experience. This semester, I lost my great-nana who I was very close to growing up. My mom called me the morning of the second day into the semester to tell me the news. I cried. All-day. Well, all week actually. I stayed in bed or curled up in a ball on the couch. I was absolutely devastated. I had a few friends come over and spend time with me, but it didn’t change the fact that my nana wasn’t here anymore.


Death is a weird concept to process and even though my nana passed a few months ago now, it still doesn’t feel real at times. I was sad, guilty, angry, restless, and in denial for weeks. I went home a few weeks later for her memorial service and it still felt like none of it was happening. The whole time I sat there in pure denial. It was hard going to the retirement home she lived in knowing after my dad and I left, it would be the last time we’d ever go there. 


Growing up, my family used to visit nana and pop-pop a lot. They used to live up in the Poconos, and there was never a dull moment. Nana was very crafty and always had something for my brother and me whenever we visited. One day we made snowmen out of an apple and marshmallows. My nana also had a love for learning and even tried to learn how to play Tomb Raiders with me when I was a little girl. From what I remember, that didn’t end up going well. 


When my great-grandparents moved into the retirement home, we went to visit as much as we could. We would all play Rummikub as a family, get ice cream at the ice cream parlor, or play any new game nana came up with. Pop-pop would take the family down to the training room and let us watch all the trains run. I loved to hear about nana and pop-pop’s travels and all of the stories they had to share with us. They got to travel all across the United States, and I aspire to do the same as them one day. These stories inspired the tattoo I got in honor of both my great-grandparents. I got their initials in the mountains on my right ankle because of my first and fondest memories of them.

Once I got to college, I would call nana from time to time. She loved to hear about my adventures at school and she was so proud of me. She would always ask what classes I was taking, how work was going, and would always remind me to make sure I was getting enough sleep. When I’m feeling really down, I can still hear her telling me how proud she is of everything I’m accomplishing. 


As a gift, my mom gave my nana a book in which she wrote about her life, how she met and fell in love with pop-pop and all the family that came after. My mom showed me the book when I went home for the funeral and one of the prompts was her wishes for the family. She wrote “long lives, healthy ones and loving all whom you meet. Smile and be happy with what you have. Wealth does not always make you happy.” It stood out to me and it was a reminder to me to be kind in everything I do and smile when it seems like the world around you is caving in. My nana loved everyone she met endlessly, and she was one of my role-models growing up.

To anyone going through something similar, you are not alone. It’s okay to be sad and to miss them. I’ve learned to cherish the memories and hold on to the positives. Some days are harder than others, but it’s easy to take comfort in knowing she is with me no matter what now. Everyone copes and grieves differently but having friends and family to lean on makes it easier. Be patient and care for yourself. It helps so much to talk about how you’re feeling inside. My nana was such a wonderful woman, and I am so glad I had her in my life for as long as I did.