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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

COLUMN: We grieve the living too

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Grief is a word mostly used to describe the feeling and process the living endure after someone they know has passed. The process is filled with different stages and many emotions but calling it “grieving” or “grief” makes it easier to grasp.  

Because this word is a combination of a plethora of emotions, we might also experience these when we lose people who are still alive. I don’t think grief discriminates. I think it creeps up on all of us at multiple points in our lives even when the people we love are alive.  

One of these instances is break-ups. We miss the person just as much as we miss the feelings they evoked in us like love and happiness. We must re-learn how to go about our day-to-day without them. Sometimes break-ups are sudden and heated, but other times they are slow and inevitable. No matter how or why they happen, we are left to grieve our partner. We need to get used to our new normal, our new “no contact.” 

It might seem like our grief is centered around losing the person we loved, but it’s much more than that. At least that is what it seemed like for me. I thought I needed the person back to plug the faucet of my grief, but as we found ourselves in each other's lives again, I realized I still grieved. I tried to make it feel how it used to feel, I tried to talk how we used to talk, but there was a level of commitment that was no longer there. And even as I had them again and we slipped into new toxic habits, I grieved him, my love for him and what could have been because I knew it could never be the same. Our grief wraps around the life we had with them, the routine we had created and the dreams we had hoped they would see us accomplish, grieving the person is only part of it.   

We grieve expectations, goals and lives. When we move onto the next phase of our lives — when we graduate college — we will grieve the life we lived before we threw our caps in the air. Our worries will no longer be the assignments we forgot to turn in or the professors we don’t like. We will have to worry about bigger things like rent and jobs.  

We will continue to meet grief at multiple points of our lives whether it’s for the living or for the ones that have passed. And if we do, I think we should become friends with it.  

In the movie “Call Me by Your Name,” Micheal Stuhlbarg’s character says, “We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything — what a waste!”  

I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. Instead of patching ourselves up with band-aids after a breakup, we should let the wounds heal openly. Let ourselves feel the deepest of our sadness and the scariest of our anger. The only way to do that is to become friends with grief.  

If we grieve people, places, dreams and expectations so many times in our lives, creating a relationship with the process and the feelings only makes sense.  I have come to terms with the fact that grief, and I will continue to encounter each other throughout the years. I don’t look forward to it, but I have made peace with it. Grief and I are no longer at war. 

In a couple of years or months or days when grief comes back to me, I hope I can greet it like an old friend with candor after everything we’ve been through and wonder of when I will see it next. 

Maria Amanda Irias (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and psychology.  

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