Coping with Grief During the Holidays

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Photo: Jade Esmeralda

I don’t even know how to begin, but it is with a heavy heart that I write today. I recently received the news of the passing of a dear close friend. This person was one of those friends that you’re so used to seeing, that it’s practically impossible to imagine them not being there. I know, it’s cliché, but this person really had a heart of gold, a huge smile, and was always kind to anyone he met. When I read the news of his death, I had to read the words over again, and again—but nothing was registering completely in my mind. As I started to process the meaning of those words, and the tears just started to flow. I wouldn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. I won’t even get a chance to see them again. My friend recently got engaged, and I remember his joy when sharing the news. I can’t even imagine how his family and his fiance must feel right now. A piece of my heart just shattered.

 

Over the past week, I’ve been dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions, from varying degrees of general stress and sadness to feelings of isolation and depression. These feelings are tough to describe, but they are real. These feelings are very raw and visceral. Whenever I think about my friend, I just remember him being so alive. He was actively involved in our local dance community and other forms of dance, and also trained martial arts from when he was young. We bonded through our love for dance and being excited about geek culture, like the latest Marvel movie or show, Star Wars, etc. It’s just shocking to even think that you won’t be able to see them again.

 

I think what breaks my heart the most, is learning about how he died. With the recent onset of cold weather, he suffered an asthma attack that turned into a cardiac attack. And just like that, he was gone. Later, I learned that he had a nearly complete blocked coronary artery and several others that were also blocked by more than fifty percent. Although he knew about his asthma, he didn’t know about his coronary artery disease. He was only in his early thirties.  I will always remember him as being a true warrior of light.

 

Although he has passed away now, and it stings my heart with pain to even write and read these words, he made such a powerful impact on my community. There’s a big part of me that still can’t even believe it. It just feels like we’ll see him again next week, smiling from ear to ear, getting ready to practice and share his love for dance.

 

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Photo: Jade Esmeralda

 

It’s such a tough thing, stringing words together to encompass such a tough amount of pain. It’s like nothing will even come close to putting an accurate description of these feelings. But you do the best you can, to carry on, to remember, to never forget.  

 

With the arrival of the holiday season, it’s always a good time to reflect. And yet, this time, it’s different. It hurts, in a different way. If I can leave behind anything here, I’ll make it as simple as I can.

 

I implore you to make that appointment you’ve been putting off for far too long.

 

Whether it’s dentist (yes—I am guilty) or your annual checkup with your physician, just make the call, use the online portal, or schedule through the app.

 

If a family member or someone you love constantly avoids going to the doctor, try to find out why. Figure out what kind of barriers they’re facing, and try to offer them some help. If they have problems getting to the doctor’s office, help them with a ride or organize a way to set up transportation. Deep down, they might be more scared of the results than you know. Offer to go with them and show some social support.

 

Take care of your health by making an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

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Photo: Jade Esmeralda

The holidays can be a time of joy, but for those dealing with grief, they can quickly shift into a time of stress. I won’t preach or talk about the stages of grief, but if you’re starting to notice that you’ve been feeling down lately, or that it’s harder and harder to pull yourself out of bed, you might need to consider getting some help. USG has resources available on campus for students, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

With respect, I wish you and your families a safe holiday season.

 

Written by Jade Esmeralda

About Jade Esmeralda

Aloha! My name is Jade Esmeralda. I am currently a senior at Salisbury University at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), and my major is Exercise Science with a minor in Health. I plan to graduate in May 2019, and my long-term goal is to pursue a career in physical therapy. In the future, I would like to combine my passion for dance, martial arts, health and rehabilitation by becoming a Doctor in Physical Therapy.
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