I believe in finding beauty through pain

Author: Kaitlyn Turney, TCU Student, Speech Pathology Major,Published fall 2012

I believe that grief can be crushing yet healing, bounding yet freeing. Through grief you become utterly lost but through the journey find yourself. The hardest times of life can be oddly beneficial and mold you into your future self, for better or worse.
October 12, 2010 was a day like any other: beautiful, peaceful, normal. Then I got a phone call that would change my life forever. “Your brother is no longer with us,” my dad says. My mind cannot comprehend this because he was only 17. How is it fair for his short life to be over? To make the situation worse, he took his own life. Questions upon questions will remain unanswered. “How can you do this to your family? Your friends? What right do you have?” Anger, sadness, bitterness washed over me and seeped into every pore.

No mother should have to bury her child. No father should see his son’s life cut short, especially by the son’s own hands. There’s no manual on how to process these types of conflicting emotions.  Every person close to my brother put some blame on themselves. “Did I miss a sign? Could I have prevented this? Did I push him over the edge?” But in time, one has to try to realize that there’s nothing anyone can do now. What’s done is done and playing the blame game will eat you alive.
Months of depression, sleeping days away, being haunted by constant memories and grief, struggling to function followed and still hit at times. Experiences like this push you to your limits and reveal how resilient you are and helps you realize how strong people can truly be. Did I bounce back instantly? Of course not. My ideology, faith, and essence of my very being were challenged. While everything in life was being torn apart, I slowly figured out how to put it back together and form myself into a person of greater empathy and love.

The journey through this pain and turmoil is one I am still on. Life as I know it and figuring out what I believe is still a work in progress, but there is satisfaction in being stretched to every extreme and learning the depths of my soul and mind. Am I glad this tragedy occurred? Frankly, no, but I know I would not be who I am today and have as much compassion if it did not happen. I am still not sure how I feel about that but growth still occurs.

Through this journey, I have come to realize that even through all the pain and suffering in the world, life is still inherently beautiful. This faith and outlook makes life worth living and brings joy on the most sorrowful of days.

I believe that true grieving only happens when you are honest

Author: Elizabeth Leach, TCU Student, Environmental Science Major

Published: November 6th 2012

When you experience the death of a close family member at a young age like I did, you don’t realize the impact it has on your life until much later. My father died from a heart attack when I was eight years old. I saw him on his death bed and I said goodbye to him when he was no longer with us. His funeral was quite possibly the most impersonal thing I had ever been to. I was surrounded by all these “family members” who I had never met before, and who never spoke to me after that day. I just said “thank you” when they expressed their condolences. Being a military dependent, it was recommended that I see a psychologist until they believed I was “emotionally stable.” The doctor turned out to be just another stranger that didn’t trigger my need to grieve. The unsuccessful sessions lasted for three years.

I was just starting high school when I grieved for the first time. My mom was on deployment for seven months, and though I had someone to stay with me, I was alone. All the feelings I had been burying for years erupted and I caused myself and those around me a lot of pain. I misbehaved, I started failing on purpose, and I refused to talk to anyone about my dad. I was envious of all the kids who had two parents because I felt like I had none.

Finally, when my mom took notice of my behavior, she tried to understand why I was being so strange. I was always a good kid, and everything I had been doing was so unlike me. When I spoke to her, I got angry and I yelled and I blamed her. She was never there. Even before my dad died, she was always working. “I’ve never even seen you cry for him,” I said. I wanted her to hurt like I was hurting. That was, until I realized that all this time she had been. I had no idea that she was hiding so much pain. I found out that she had been diagnosed with depression and a range of several other medical problems since my dad’s death. We both learned a lot about each other and ourselves that day. I realized that my mom and I had both been trying to protect each other. My mom hid her grieving from me in the hope that I would be oblivious to such pain. I never allowed feelings of grief to enter my mind because I didn’t want my mom to worry. Little did we know, we were building up more pain for each other because it all exploded later. What we both needed was genuine communication. Our feelings needed to be discussed, not tucked away neatly in our minds somewhere.

Since that first instance of grief, I have cried for my dad several times. He did not see me graduate from high school, and he won’t be there when I get my bachelor’s degree or when I get married. I will never hear him call me “sugar” or “pumpkin” again and he will never take me out to buy new books to read. And, I’ll never get to ask him about his life and what it was like before I came along, but I will be able to ask my mom what her life was like. She was there when I graduated from high school and she will see my bachelor’s degree and meet my husband. She still calls me her princess and buys me new Star Wars books every time they come out. Most importantly, every year on March 1, we grieve for my father who we both miss and who we both reminisce about together.

I believe that true grieving is only possible when you are honest with yourself and your loved ones. The people who know you better than anyone are the only ones who have the ability to support your pain. I believe that ignoring feelings can lead to suffering and that you should express them in some way before they cause pain. I also believe that there is no right time to grieve. When you try to force someone to realize a loss, it only shuts them down further. Everyone has a different way and pace of mourning, but eventually their feelings do come to the surface and once they do, all you can do as a loved one is be with them physically and emotionally.