Author's note: As a 16-year-old journalist living in suburban Chicago, I’ve always sought to reach a wide... Show full author's note »
Break Down“You then add three to both sides and set it equal to zero.”
“The count on that is: 1 and 2 and 3.”
Finally, it’s 4th period. All I want to do is go to the computer lab and focus on my articles, but I can’t. Nothing is coming to mind and whatever I can manage to get onto the page is editorialized and cynical. After going at it for about forty minutes, I gave up and went to talk to my journalism teacher. I planned on talking about how to improve my article; instead Greg was all I could say.
I was sitting in her class room and I couldn’t make myself stop talking. The talking soon turned into crying and the crying into sobbing. I couldn’t stop myself; it was coming out like vomit. I felt ashamed and angry. My father always said “if you are going to cry, you go into your room, close the door, and cry. You must never let anyone see you.” Now here I was laying everything out on the table in front of someone I’ve known for three semesters. At the same time I felt relived, this was the first time I really cried. With every tear that rolled down my cheeks, I felt the dark cavern become lighter.
I didn't know who I felt sorrier for; me for acting like such a moron or for her because she had to listen to my insanity. After a while of me screaming “it isn't fair” and her calming me down, I felt a lot better. At this point it was half way through 5th period.
She allowed me to stay till the end of the hour and watch “The Office,” at which point she wrote me a pass to chemistry, gave me a hug and said the same thing they all say, “It’ll be OK.”
After bringing back the memories school, a place I once saw as a second home, turned into my own personal hell. I hated being at home because it reminded me of him. I hated coming to school because I couldn’t sit in a single class without some sort of painful reminder. But, I dare not admit this to anyone. Instead, I made my eyes sparkle with mascara every morning and lied.
My counselor begged me to join a grief therapy group at school. At first I said there is no way in hell. I do not enjoy being psychoanalyzed nor do I enjoy partaking in a circle of sobbing teenagers all feeling sorry for themselves. However, following my little break down I decided it wouldn’t kill me to go to one meeting.
I have to say it was nothing like I thought it would be. There were a couple people in the room who I knew, which made things a little easier. The counselor and school psychologist who ran the group were quirky and fun. The group met once a week, with each meeting I felt better.
I started to do a little at home therapy too. I started to write my father letters. The first was a letter of closure. The ones that followed had a less severe tone. If something good happened I would write to him. If I missed him I would write to him and feel less alone. Life was becoming easier, almost bearable. As time passed I felt less guilty, I did not think of him as often as I did. For the most part life was perfect, I was happy.
“The person who died in my life is my father, Greg. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. I found out about the death when I was going to work. After death, I believe my loved one is in heaven. My first feeling was numbness because I guess I didn’t get it. Now I feel relived because I don’t feel empty or guilty. I know he is always there, though he may not be seen. What makes me most angry is when people take what they have for granted. I worry about who is going to walk me down the aisle. The hardest thing about school is listening to all the stories about kids hanging out with their fathers because it makes me feel angry and jealous. The adults in my life tell me not to worry about my future. What helps me most is reading and writing. What helps me least is driving by familiar places,” I read during our last group therapy session.
I have learned a lot over the eight month he’s been gone. The memories no longer hurt me the way they used to. I learned new ways to answer the unavoidable question that would come every now and again.
“It happens to everyone, the important thing is to learn from it,” I lied. “It’s just a way of preparing me for something bigger.”
This was the answer that caused the least squirming, but I could tell not everyone completely believed what I was saying. We parental grievers try our hardest to ignore the reaction of these people and attempt to be more convincing.
Although this story sounds morbid, it isn’t all bad. Yes, we grievers sit together at our circular tables, pretending we understand each other, but amid the conversations of our losses we also talk about our weekends and complain about classes. All the while hoping to one day be able to believe the answers we give.
For you see, there is one big lesson everyone who joins the circle must learn; grief is like a drug addiction. The sadness never fully goes away, but with time it becomes easier to control and eventually dissipates into nothing more than a twinge. Even though sometimes it seems easier to fall to the addiction or sadness, it is important to remember that with each passing day and each “even though” uttered the dark cavern becomes just a little bit lighter. I use journalism, friends, and family as my life-vest; how about you?