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The Wrangler

The #1 student news site of Yorba Linda High School

The Wrangler

The Lessons Learned From Grief

Mylie Brown
A happy reminder in my room that even if my grandpa is gone, he will always be in my heart.

On March 16th, 2024, I experienced truly the worst day of my entire life. This was the day that my sweet grandfather – who I know as my Papa – unexpectedly passed away.

My evening had been moving along as it usually does. I was relaxing in my bedroom enjoying my Saturday away from school, when all of the sudden I heard my mom loudly gasp from down the hallway and run to grab her keys. My sister and I peeked out of our room to see what the matter could be, and the second that we saw tears in our mother’s eyes, we knew something was very wrong. That is when my mom told us what was going on, and I heard the last news I would have wanted to receive: my grandpa was likely dying. My mom was leaving to go to the hospital with my dad and they would call the rest of our family to come as well if they didn’t think he was going to make it.

At first, I remember telling myself that there is still hope for my Papa’s survival, and that surely it would be fine. After all, everything in my life always works out in the end… right? I tried to remain hopeful; however, when I received a phone call about thirty minutes later from my mom saying that our dad would be coming home to pick us up, I knew what was to come. My eyes felt filled with tears as I went into my sister’s room to tell her to get dressed to go to the hospital, and when she asked me if I thought that there was any hope left for our grandpa to make it, the amount of despair I felt when I had to tell her no was the most I had ever felt. 

As I went back to my room to get dressed myself, I remember doing lots of thinking. I told myself that this was not my time to cry, and that this was my last chance to ever see or speak with my Papa. I needed to stay strong until after he was gone, I needed to take everything in and remember all that was going on. I needed to be present for what was going on, so I made sure I did just that, and it felt as if it took everything in me to do so. But I knew I wouldn’t regret staying strong once the night was over, and I knew that these last few moments with my grandpa were going to count because I stayed strong. Unfortunately, that was not exactly the case.

When we arrived at his hospital room, I was in disbelief to find that my grandpa was not awake, but looked as if he was already gone. I still do not know if he was alive when I saw him last, but even if he was or not: I saw a very different version of the Papa I once knew. Seeing that he wasn’t awake made me feel overwhelmed with sadness and anger. Why couldn’t my parents have let me come initially when they did too? Why could God not have given me just one more moment with him? Why has this happened to me?

It was when I got home in the middle of the night that I could not hold back how I had been feeling anymore, and it was then when I broke down in lots and lots of tears. To my surprise, that cry I cried that night provided me with a much-needed sense of relief. I missed him already; I still miss him now.

When I woke up the next morning, the sun was shining just as it always did. Life was continuing on just like it always has. And I did not like that at all. I wanted the world to stop, I wanted my grandfather’s passing to be the only thing that mattered. But it wasn’t. Everything still mattered just as it does: my work still needed to be done, my life was still moving forward, and I just tried to stand in place.

In the weeks following the night my Papa passed away, I hate to say that nothing felt any better with time. My eyes still fill with every time I think about him, my best friend still gets to hear me rant about how I wish he hadn’t died, and I still have my crying sessions in my room or car when I think about it too much.

I hate to admit to myself that I have felt the feeling of grief as it has always been an emotion I had been lucky enough to escape until Papa’s passing. However, it is unfortunately the reality that I have now grieved, and I am still grieving. Yet, I have learned that with grief comes lots of lessons. There are so many things I wish I could have done differently before I arrived at the hospital, while I was at the hospital, and in the weeks after my grandpa was gone. There are so many things I wish I would have said and did that I did not do.

I wish when Papa was still here that I called him more. I wish every time I saw something that reminded me of him, I would have texted him to let him know. I wish when I learned something new in my history class, I would have talked to him about it since history was his favorite subject. I wish I made an effort to go see him more often. I wish I hugged him tighter when I still could.

I wish when I discovered he was dying that I had let myself cry the full cry I wanted to. I regret holding back my feelings as much as I did. I wanted to be present for my final moments with him, but in those final moments my Papa seemed to already be gone. My energy used up holding back my tears could have been conserved by allowing myself to feel what I felt.

I wish in the weeks after he was gone that I did not try to forget about it as much as I did. I wish that I would have yet again, allowed myself to fully grieve my sweet grandfather. I tried distracting myself every time I thought about him, but in the moments where I couldn’t force myself to forget, it just made me hurt even more than I already was.

Grief is not something that ever truly gets better, but what I see grief as is something that eventually becomes easier for the person grieving to accept and cope with. What I am trying to say through this story of the passing of my grandfather is that losing someone is never easy – before, during, or after. You will have lots of regrets for everything that you could have done, but the truth is that you cannot be so hard on yourself in times of distress. What you can control is what you do with the lessons you have learned. 

Hug the people you love while you can. Call them, text them when you think of them, and make time for them.

Hiding from your emotions doesn’t make them go away, but only makes them grow stronger.

— Ethan Lee (11)

Don’t be so hard on yourself for the what ifs. Everything happens for a reason, and it is your job to accept that things are out of your control. And finally, never hold yourself back from what you feel. Our emotions are a gift – even the saddest ones. Allow yourself to cry, to rant, and to grieve. Ethan Lee (11) said to me that “hiding from your emotions doesn’t make them go away, but only makes them grow stronger” and I couldn’t agree more.

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About the Contributor
Mylie Brown
Mylie Brown, Photojournalist
Mylie Brown is a junior here at YLHS who is eager to begin her second year as a photojournalist for The Wrangler. She loves keeping herself involved as she is a part of many different activities on campus. Mylie is currently the Junior Class President, and her favorite subjects are English and History. In her free time, you can find her reading, spending time with her friends and family, or listening to music. She is so excited for her final two years at YLHS and hopes to make this the most memorable year yet!

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