My grieving process isn’t stagnant—and that’s okay


I’ve spent a large portion of the last two months coming to terms with a former classmate’s death. I wasn’t as close to them these past couple of years, but the news of their passing still hit me hard.

Most of my high school class didn’t find out about their passing until weeks later. We first felt shock and disbelief. Then came a desperate need for confirmation. We texted people we hadn’t spoken to since our graduation.

A person-shaped hole is present in our generation. Someone our age whom we knew has died. For the first time, my classmates and I had no idea how to properly express our grief.

“How could this happen?” we asked each other. “How is this fair?”

I don’t think fairness has any role in this. My classmate was smart and ambitious, surely on the way to accomplish great things. Now only what-if scenarios and bittersweet memories remain. 

How does one move on from something like this? I still don’t know the answer.

Of course, everyone grieves differently. Some try to forget about their loss, and others obsess over it. How I deal with death doesn’t apply to anyone else. 

A classmate told me they’ve felt continuing everyday tasks is pointless when one of us can’t wake up in the morning anymore. I understand that feeling, but I’m not sure I feel the same. 

On the night I found out the terrible news, I felt an urge to open my yearbooks again. I sat through the evening, slowly turning over every page and examining every photo.

After seeing dozens of smiles, hugs, and inside jokes unknown to me, I realized this was not a life lost, but a life lived.

I want to live a life like that, too. I’m already living it. And if one life ends, that doesn’t mean mine should grind to a halt as well.

How young my classmate was re-opened my eyes to how precious each moment is. I’ve gained motivation to achieve the dreams I’ve been putting off for too long. Reviewing the past gave me a sense of closure and a sense of hope for those of us left behind.

Grief is an ongoing and changing process. There’s no universal checklist to complete—the symptoms are different for everyone.

How I feel now may change in a week, a month, or in several years when I finally accept my classmate is no longer with us.

Until then, it will feel strange to think about them in the past tense. In my mind, they’re still alive—and I never want that to change. With each accomplishment, I want to continue their legacy. 

Regardless of where the process will take me, I think it’s important to remember: one moment of death doesn’t undermine the thousands of moments of a life well-lived.

Anna is a fourth-year Life Science student and The Journal’s Editorials Editor.


All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.