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Thursday, February 02, 2023

Grief does funny things to you. Not the “ha ha” type of funny, but a “food doesn’t taste the same, and colors look different” type of funny. There are as many responses to grief as there are loved ones who have died. Some people throw themselves into their work, some throw themselves into their bed and some become obsessed with collecting Disney memorabilia. When Richard Kraft’s big brother David died, he responded in the latter way. Over two and a half decades, Kraft amassed a collection of more than 750 pieces of Disney history. He used to go to Disneyland with his brother and parents, and collecting the pieces reminded him of those happy moments. We all hold onto things that remind us of the loved ones we’ve lost, though such an extreme collection is rare. A less rare, but still unusual expression of remembrance is to have the ashes of a loved one turned into a synthetic diamond. Couples have even used such stones as their engagement rings or wedding bands. 

It is incredibly difficult to lose someone, and this can be compounded if the loss occurs during a particularly stressful time, such as college. You are already trying to juggle life, class, work and relationships. Now you have to do it without the care and support of someone crucial. If you find your universe turned upside down, don’t try to fix it by yourself. You may be tempted to isolate yourself in your room with a gallon of ice cream, but grab a second spoon and ask someone to share it with you. The presence of another human can save us from drowning in our tears, especially if they know to bring an extra box of Kleenex.

There are resources on campus to help, too. The Counseling and Wellness Center is one of them. Your class attendance and performance will probably suffer during this time, but if you reach out to your major’s dean, your professors and student affairs, you will find people that can help you. They will not only be willing to help but have experienced their own losses as well and are ready to respond with compassion. If it seems like you just cannot recover from your grief on your own, The Journey’s End in Gainesville may be a good option for you. They provide grief counseling services and help prepare individuals and families for imminent death. If you can’t manage any of this, it is enough to just roll yourself into a human burrito and try again tomorrow. 

When it isn’t you that has lost someone, but your classmate or friend has, there are practical things you can do to help them. When they miss class, email them copies of your notes. If you know they will be there, bring their favorite Starbucks order and add in a bagel. An extremely thoughtful care package would be Kleenex, paper plates (because washing dishes is not happening right now), easy microwaveable food and bottles of Gatorade to replenish tears. If they have a pet, ask if you can help to walk them, scoop the litter box and check to make sure their food and water bowls are filled. Give your friend gift card codes for Lyft and Doordash. The bus is especially harsh right now, and leaving their home for food is too overwhelming. 

The phrase “time heals all wounds” is false and stupid. We still have every one of our wounds, but our bodies have acclimated to keep going. You will never “get over” your loss, but you will keep going and it will get easier. You just have to make it through each day.

The Editorial Board consists of Elizabeth Tubbs, Opinions Editor; Amanda Rosa, Editor-in Chief; Kelly Hayes, Digital Managing Editor; and Tranelle Maner, Engagement Managing Editor.

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