I’ve never cried during a movie. It’s something I take pride in.
“Marley & Me?” It’s sad, and I understand why people cry, but I’m okay. The first 10 minutes of “Up?” Heartbreaking, but I refuse to shed a tear. It’s probably not super healthy to take pride in not showing emotions. Oops.
Since the world came to a screeching halt, I haven’t reacted to the news. I’ve been compartmentalizing all of my emotions related to the pandemic and burying myself in my journalistic work.
When people ask me how I am, I don’t know how to respond besides “Fine, I guess.” What am I supposed to say? I am a junior. My graduation wasn’t ripped away from me. I am not a senior in high school attempting to decide where to go to school without a college visit. I still have my job and classes. So, I’ve been counting my blessings and not looking back.
But then people started talking about whether or not universities would resume classes in the fall. I have a low amount of Husker pride compared to my peers, but that scared me.
Suddenly, I missed the blooming campus trees and the chalk messages outside the Nebraska Union. I missed speed walking across campus with a bag of Cheetos from Husker Heroes at Selleck. I missed my peers from The Daily Nebraskan. This is a weirdly exhilarating time to be a journalist and I love reporting on the pandemic, but attending classes online wasn’t the college experience I signed up for. Nobody planned for this.
As I was processing, I could hear one therapist’s voice inside my head telling me my fear, my anger and my sadness surrounding these changes were all grief. I hate that emotion.
For the longest time, I associated grief with death. People who lose a loved one have every right to grieve. And I, this privileged, lucky, young woman, have never had to deal with a death or deal with any traumatic situation. I felt like I didn’t have a right to grieve.
But later in life, I lost an opportunity, became depressed and my therapist told me I was grieving and put me on more antidepressants. I learned grief was a monster that I had to battle. It sometimes paralyzed me or ruined my days. I wished I could snap out of my emotions and look at all of the positive aspects of my life. But sometimes, you just can’t let it go.
So, my heart breaks for graduating seniors who won’t walk across a stage like they planned, and I think about how hurt I would be if this happened my senior year of high school. I can’t imagine how they feel. However, their sadness isn’t more important than mine. Their loss may seem bigger, but it doesn’t invalidate my reason to grieve.
That said, I don’t know if I’ve truly acknowledged my grief. (Yeah, I’m a bit of a hypocrite for writing this letter.)
With movies, I can compartmentalize my emotions because the characters’ feelings are not my reality. I don’t know if I’ve accepted that this pandemic is actually happening, killing thousands of people across the world and ruining life experiences everywhere. It’s about time I did, though.
Maybe you’ve taken the time to acknowledge all that has happened in the past few months, or maybe you’re like me and you need to force yourself to cry, punch a pillow, scream out a window, write an angry letter or find another way to grieve. Just know that it’s possible to acknowledge your own emotions while recognizing others’ pain.
It’s okay to grieve.
Senior news editor