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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Grief is something that all humans will feel at some point in their lives. Having lost a family member, friend, pet or any other loved one will result in the emotional feelings of the grief cycle. The grief cycle is a five-step process that one may go through when losing someone that they cared for deeply. The five steps in order are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Of course, the cycle of grief is not the same for everyone; however, I feel that many people experience some or all of the steps in this cycle while grieving.

Beginning with denial, which is when one cannot believe what has occurred. Then, anger is when one feels enraged by the fact that their loved one has passed and tends to put the blame on the people around them — typically will pick on the people closest to them. Next, bargaining is where one convinces themselves that their loved one didn’t really pass away and that they are still with them in some way, shape or form. Moving forward, the next stage is depression, where one feels an overwhelming feeling of sadness and is in a state of despair and confusion. The final stage is acceptance, where one realizes that their loved one has passed and accepts their death in a way. 

When I was six years old, my mother passed away. It was the biggest loss I have experienced in my life, and it has taken me a great amount of time to process. Since I was so young when my mother passed, I didn’t fully understand what was going on. The only thing that I knew was that my mom was sick, and then she was gone. I didn’t fully experience the grief cycle until I was in middle school.

As time progressed, I became more upset at the loss of my mother. She was an alcoholic, so as I try to remember bits and pieces of her personality, I tend only to remember the bad memories rather than the happy ones. I feel as though I grieve the woman that my mother was more than the woman she was toward the end of her life. It is odd to grieve a person that you hardly knew. At times, it is more that I am grieving the idea of a mother rather than my mother herself. 

All humans deal with grief in different ways and have different types of grief. A grief type that people do not typically talk about is grieving a friendship that you lost or a part of yourself that may no longer exist. This type of grief is a bit harder to explain and understand, but I find it to be very real. All of us have had friendships that turn for the worst and end up losing someone we may have called our best friend. This friendship breakup is still a form of grief in that you are losing someone that you loved deeply, and now they are out of your life. As well, we can grieve aspects of ourselves. Say that you went through a really hard breakup with your significant other, and now you are unable to be vulnerable with people; you may grieve that part of yourself that was able to be vulnerable with others. 

Personally, I have had to grieve many parts of myself after coming to college. As someone who is a victim of sexual assault, I have lost many aspects of myself that I once loved. I used to be so innocent, naive and had such a beautiful excitement about life, but after the incident, I lost all of those sides of myself. Of course, losing personality traits is also a part of growing up, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to those parts of myself just yet. 

Grief is a hard topic to discuss, but it is reassuring to know that you are not alone in the feeling. Everyone goes through grief in some capacity, and you have a whole community to provide support. You are not alone in your experience, and your feelings are valid.

Irelyn Rogan is studying Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Irelyn is a third-year student, and this is her fifth semester as a HerCampus journalist! She is very interested in lifestyle, pop culture, and entertainment in general.