You do not need me to tell you that this pandemic has taken a lot away from us. Whether it be your senior year, your job, your relationships or even your family and friends, we have all lost something to COVID-19. What I did not realize this pandemic could take from me, however, was my ability to grieve properly. Although this is not something I could see or even understand in the moment, it changed the whole outcome of the process for me, and I am positive that I cannot be the only one who has felt this way during this rocky and unpredictable time.
I lost my grandmother suddenly and unexpectedly in October of 2020. My family lives in Ohio, about seven hours away from my college, Saint Louis University, and my parents had to tell me through a phone call. I do not have any family that lives even near Missouri, and I did not know how to tell my friends about the pain I was feeling. I felt extremely alone in my dorm room, and it led to me feeling emotionally numb because I could not express my emotions. Nothing felt right, and I felt like I was going to explode suddenly.
My college did their best to help the whole situation. When word got to my Dean of Students that my grandmother died, they sent me a very nice email offering to help me in any way they could, and I was very grateful for the support. The issue, however, was that I wanted to go home and be with my family for a while and they were concerned about me contracting or spreading COVID-19. While the bereavement policy and offer to email my teachers were both nice gestures, they were not what I needed at the time. At first, the school wanted me to quarantine for two weeks when I left, which would make my stay three weeks instead of one. They honestly did not want me to go at all, but because of the circumstances, they let up, and my grandfather was able to drive me home for a week.
Although being with my family helped, I could tell that everyone, including myself, felt like we could not grieve yet. My mom and dad were suddenly required to travel across the country to California, during both the surging pandemic and the California wildfires, in order to collect my grandmother's things and put them in order. They were the only ones able to go, and they were forced to quarantine for two weeks when they returned, which added more stress to the situation. My siblings and I had to just continue marching forward with schoolwork and try to ignore the hole in our lives. We were unable to bury my grandmother in California where she wanted due to the pandemic, and we could not get together as a family to celebrate her life due to COVID-19 restrictions and fear of travel.
It is now May of 2021, and we still have not been able to have a funeral or even bury my grandmother. We also do not know when that will even be a possibility, since the pandemic still rages on, although signs of a possible end have started to appear. This has been extremely strenuous on my family, since we have not been able to get proper closure after what happened and we still do not feel like we can fully move forward. But the point of me writing this article is that, for those of you who feel like I do right now, there is still hope. I know that someday, hopefully soon, we will be able to get together as a family and celebrate the life of my grandmother properly, albeit delayed. There is always going to be a light at the end of the tunnel, for all of us, and we are all strong for continuing to carry on despite the weight that we carry.