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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Content warning: This story discusses sensitive topics including school shootings.

I know that there’s a whole grief cycle for after you lose someone or after you break up with the one person you thought you’d be with forever, but there’s no grief cycle that I know of made specifically for school shootings. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – I feel like those are a big slap in the face. Grief isn’t so simplistic that everyone somehow grieves the same way and in the same order. I guess you could say I’m in denial of the entire grief cycle. 

Right now, I don’t think any MSU student can imagine accepting this. Most traumatic things have closure in our society, sure. When you break up with someone, you eventually come to realize it was meant to be that way and that you’ll find someone else. Death is a little harder to accept, but eventually you begin to believe it was your loved one’s time. With a school shooting, no one can say it was any of the victims’ time to go. It could’ve been anyone. I don’t want to invalidate any other traumas. For me personally though, it’s easier for me to accept a loved one of mine dying at the wheel than it is for them being fatally shot randomly. The car situation seems more like they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But the shooting situation, how do I get closure with that when there’s so much lack of control? 

Gun violence happens everywhere, but you never know when or where. And I feel so powerless, why isn’t that in the grief cycle? I feel so incredibly powerless because who knows where it’s going to happen next? Survivors of the Oxford shooting didn’t even think it was going to happen to them once, but twice? What’s to stop them from thinking there won’t be a third? What I realized after this shooting is that I’ve always held the assumption that I’ll live until 80 or so. It really woke me up and made me realize speakers aren’t just coming up with nice-sounding lines when they say to live your life like there’s no tomorrow. It bugs the heck out of me that the three who were killed were just going about their usual schedule like I was. Just like me, they didn’t see it coming. I can’t even put it into words. It’s just so surreal. I feel like we all know we aren’t immortal but we choose to think we are, because how else are we supposed to get through life? 

I did feel anger toward the shooter and toward the U.S. in general that this still happens in our country. But as strange as it is to say, I was the most angry at the weather. It was all sunny like nothing happened. There were signs, which I appreciated, and a lot of community, which I also appreciated, but it felt like forced positivity out of — I don’t even know. 

My brain has been foggy a lot. I forget what I’m going to say. I wasn’t directly affected, so I can’t even imagine the emotions soaring through the students who unfortunately can’t say the same. 

Feeling sad for the victims and guilty it wasn’t me is a whole emotion by itself. I know people who knew the victims, though I didn’t know any of them personally. Still, I see the pain in other people and it kills me inside. I know those who are injured are strong and that they will recover, but I still wish I was in their seat. I don’t know why, I just do. 

You’d think a trait like empathy would come in handy in horrific events like these, but it’s actually become my biggest weakness right now. That’s not to say that won’t change though. 

I already feel myself getting back to normal. I feel myself feeling better and I feel so guilty. It’s only been two weeks and I feel like I should be sad longer. 

All the emotions inside of me are all over the place. I chose to write a novel based on the MSU shooting, and I’ve titled it with the question: How Many More?

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741.

Sydney Savage is a graduate of Michigan State University with a BA in psychology and a BA English (with a creative writing concentration). Part of her novel called "I Love You More Than Me" is published at Red Cedar Review, and an excerpt of her other novel, “Just Let Me Go” is published at Outrageous Fortune magazine. She will be getting her Masters in Social Work at the University of Michigan and volunteering for CAPS. She plans to work with adolescents and eating disorder populations. Along with this, she'll be continuing her passion for novel writing and pursuing her dream of publication. She hopes to bring more mental health and body image themes into the book publishing market. She is a current member of Michigan Romance Writers. You can read some of her works on her personal blog and website: https://sydsavage13.wixsite.com/sydwriter13 Her twitter is @realsydsavage13 and her writing insta is @sydwriter13