BY Hope Titchbourne
In May of 2013 my older brother Brayden Titchbourne passed away, bringing my world to a sudden halt. I was out of school for two weeks and only returned for the last two days before summer break. Walking down the hallways has never felt the same.
When I came back to school, I felt almost as if everyone was staring at me, like I had a target on my back. People were scared to talk to me for fear I would start crying or something.
What most people don’t realize is that when you lose someone close to you, the feelings don’t hit you right away. You’re numb to the experience; even the most emotional people don’t know how to handle it. Yes, I cried, but for the most part I didn’t feel anything for at least a few weeks after his passing. The first weeks it feels like your loved one is on a long vacation and they’ll be back soon, but as time goes by everything starts to hit all at once. You realize that it’s not a long vacation and thats when the grief starts to hit.
Blake Dawkins, who lost his aunt and cousin last spring, describes the feeling of losing a loved one as “unexplainable, like an awful low-down rock-bottom, like there is no going up from wherever you are at.”
Dawkins says he witnessed changes in himself, a lot like I did.
“I was mean, really mean, I was angry all the time, and just had a lot of mood swings,” says Dawkins, adding that losing his aunt and cousin – who were more of a mother and brother in his life – made him have a different outlook on life.
“You never know when it’s your time….try to love everyone as much as I can, try to be nice to everyone, take all the judgement out,” Dawkins said.
Although my experience was similar to Dawkins’, all people grieve in different ways.
Softball was my outlet for aggression, while I distanced myself from the ones I loved. The death of my brother made a large part of me angry–even the smallest things, like stupid things people said, would frustrate me.
I had always loved being around people but afterwards, I could only tolerate certain people, which, let me tell you, is not good for your social life. Returning to school in the fall, I found it harder to focus, even when I wasn’t thinking about my brother. My grades did the obvious thing: they dropped.
Others tend to gravitate towards the opposite side of the spectrum, using school as a way to keep their mind off of their life at home. Many kids feel the need to overachieve. They don’t want to disappoint the person that they lost, so they do the best they can for them. They keep a busy schedule with school and friends to help fill the void, but when it comes down to it, they still feel lonely.
Dealing with people who are grieving can be difficult. It’s never easy to say the right thing. Here are a few tips:
Give the grieving person space when they need it
Don’t force them to talk, but simply offer to be there for them whenever they are ready. It may be hard for them to open up at first for fear they are being a burden
Don’t ever imply that they need to move on – grieving is not on a time frame
Try not to use words such as “dead,” “death” or “killed.”
(Teachers)-realize that when a student is grieving, their focus will rarely be on school, even when they are not thinking about their loved one.
(Teachers)- take time to prepare for future dates that may trigger emotions for the student such as anniversaries of their loved ones death or birthdays- even basic holidays can trigger things for the grieving student.
(Teachers)- offer extra help if you see the student becoming overwhelmed or losing focus.
If you are the one who is grieving, the best way to deal with everything is to talk to someone. Bottling your feelings doesn’t help. Pretty soon all of your emotions build up and the smallest comment or feeling could set you off. It may sound cliche, but sometimes the best thing you can do is get it all off your chest.