They always tell you there are five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and lastly acceptance. However, no one ever mentions the last and final stage I like to call, peace. Finding peace with losing something, or someone for that matter is something beautiful within itself, it’s almost indescribable. I lost someone, and I had thought I had found peace even before they passed, but I was wrong, oh I was so utterly wrong.
Coming from a very close-knit family made it very hard to move to Austin for college, let alone during a pandemic. I found myself very lonely at times, however, with my boyfriend Aiden around and our dog Kane to keep me company, it made this past year a bit easier, that was until everything began to spiral out of control.
DENIAL: March 13th, 2020, the day the US declared COVID-19 a national emergency. Exactly 11 days later my grandpa was pronounced dead in a small, square hospital room no visitors were allowed to go into. But get this, you would think that given the circumstances, given what was going on, given the fact that the whole world stopped for a deadly virus taking lives minute by minute, that he would have passed at the hands of a positive COVID-19 test. But no, no he didn’t. I can’t even blame the pandemic for the death of my grandfather. In fact, I didn’t even want to believe it. It felt like a never-ending nightmare.
ANGER: Before his death I didn’t really know how to process my emotions. My grandma had passed away when I was 12, but that was different. I was young, I had the excuse of being a child to back me up, to not understand, but not this time. No, this was a different type of pain. I felt it in every inch of my body. It made me want to punch a hole through the walls of my room. I remember feeling like I couldn’t cry yet every inch in my body was holding back gallons of tears that weighed me down. And on top of that, due to the pandemic just beginning, we weren’t allowed to host a funeral, in fact we just had it a few weeks ago, exactly one year later.
BARGAINING: I still remember the last call I received from him. How he called me by accident, yet we ended up talking, in fact he told me he was proud of me and proclaimed his unconditional love for his “cookie”. Oh, the memories I will never forget with him. “If only I stayed in Dallas”, “If only I went to UTD”, these were the thoughts that ran through my head every hour of every day over the course of the past year. I could have taken care of him, I would have. It wasn’t like his wife was doing it, making sure he took his insulin, controlling his sugar. If I was closer, more available, more present, he would still be here.
DEPRESSION: My world still hasn’t really gotten back to normal, but really what is normal? He’s gone. I can’t call him, I can’t see him, in fact a small piece of my heart that I never really felt before now pounds in my chest when I hear his favorite songs or eat his favorite food. I cry at random moments of the day, in fact, I’m crying as I type. I didn’t realize before how much my life would change, how much I would feel the loss of someone I took for granted. I found myself sleeping my days away for a few months, avoiding all responsibilities, and doing the bare minimum to get by. Slowly, however, I’m trying…I’m trying to patch my heart back together.
ACCEPTANCE: The year came by quicker than usual, and so were my days. My grandpa told me once that the older you get, the faster the days go by. March 24, 2021, Aiden drove Kane and I back to Dallas for the funeral. Exactly one year later. While I had thought that I was okay, that I had run out of tears to cry, feelings to mourn, and anger to be released, it all came back and hit me like a truck. Scratch that, an 18-wheeler going 100 on I-35. This time was different though. My tears felt lighter, my chest felt the most relief it’s felt in forever, and the world started to slow down for a brief moment and in that moment, I saw him, not for his ashes, not for his pictures, but him. His spirit was at peace, finally. And with that he left a piece of him to patch the hole left in my heart.
PEACE: My days are slowly getting more beautiful. I feel like the air has begun to get more crisp and easier to breathe. I’ve cleaned my apartment, washed the clothes, done the homework, and then it hit me. Life is beautiful again. The days are longer, the air is warmer, and the sun is shining again. Is this what peace feels like? I know my new normal is different from my old. However, my new peace is by far more beautiful than before. I see the world more differently for what it truly is. I look in the mirror now and smile back at myself. I can smile now, everything is going to be okay.