Grief isn’t something that fits neatly into a pamphlet or rests easily on your eyelids at night. It doesn’t float, flutter, twinkle or sparkle; it looms. Grief hangs over you and demands to be seen, until one day you glance up, just for a second, and it takes you.
From each experience with grief I’ve had, the biggest commonality seems to lie in the way it circles your brain, the tricky part being that no matter how big or small the loss, half the time you don’t know what you’re losing.
Being a senior in high school means a lot of things to me. It’s a time to cherish memories with your friends and family, make big decisions about where you’ll be heading for the next four years and grow into yourself just a little bit more. But above all, it’s our final goodbye to everything we’ve known these past 17 years; we need to gain closure in order to start our next chapter.
But suddenly, that opportunity for closure has been cut short and we’re left wondering how to rewire a mindset we’ve been developing for years: This was supposed to be our time.
In sixth grade I lost my dad to suicide. Anyone that has experienced that type of loss knows that it takes years to rewire your brain so it can function without the expectation that the person you’ve lost will be by your side. For me, it wasn’t as much about the holes that were burned into my everyday, but the gaping crater that crept its way into my imagination. I was forced to forget memories that hadn’t happened yet, like his arm hooked in mine as we walked down the aisle, and his thoughtful guidance as I made decisions about my future.
Graduation was supposed to happen after prom, which came after our final sports seasons, which came after our last classes of high school with our favorite teachers, unforgettable weekends with our friends, nights out to eat with our families and weekend road trips up north. We’ve each dreamt about it a million times over.
But this wasn’t just about the months of excitement and celebration; it was our way of embracing what’s ahead and closing off a part of our lives that we cannot return to.
Now that this has been swept away, the class of 2020 is left with the same gaping crater: grief.
Grief appears in different ways. I grow irritable, while others experience the sadness full force. It can come as a wave of depression or appear to be completely insignificant. But regardless, it deserves to be acknowledged.
I have no doubt that our loving teachers and parents will mold makeshift milestones when this pandemic has passed. We are strong, and we will thrive. But we have lost pieces we will never be able to recover.
This is still our time. Let us feel.
Keren Maze stands dressed in her older brother's graduation gown, contemplating the COVID-19 quarantine. As a high school senior, she is forced to mourn the loss of the final months of her high school experience, alongside the entire class of 2020.