The phrase “grief comes in waves” is a very accurate description of the feelings that come up when remembering a loved one who is no longer present. At least for me it is. The times when I feel sad or depressed, that’s when the waves come crashing. Whenever I am talking to someone about my mom or remembering a memory, that’s when the waves are calm, like when you’re watching the sunrise and the waves haven’t begun crashing hard; they just stay calm. Grief is different for everyone and it’s important to acknowledge and validate their own individual experience.
My journey has entailed the last 10 years of my life when my mom died of cervical cancer; I was 16 years old. The first year was the toughest because not only was it “the first time” she wouldn’t be there for my birthday, her birthday, etc., but it was also my senior year of high school.
After an emotional yet supportive year of friends around me, I thought “You know, I’m gonna be okay. I got this. I made it through this year, everything should be easier.” And it was! I didn’t feel sad or cry whenever I missed my mom. The days of crying or being upset were over; what a relief! Going to college was my new exciting adventure and I couldn’t wait for it! Starting something brand new felt like a chance to start over with a clean slate.
Moving into a dorm, getting free stuff and riding a camel at a student fair made for an awesome day. Conversations filled with laughter and getting to know the new friends I just made left me feeling euphoric. As I was putting away the free cups in my room that I gathered, I smiled to myself at how much fun I had that afternoon!
“So much free stuff!
I’m gonna upload those pictures on facebook of riding a camel!
Those girls were so funny!
I can’t wait to tell my mom!”
The ocean wave crashed hard along the shore, or rather, my soul. I was not expecting that kind of emotion! I acknowledged the logical thought of “Oh wait, I can’t really call her,” and the sadness I felt. There were times when there were moments of “I gotta tell my mom,” but stopped myself, saying “Oh, wait,” but the sadness wasn’t there, it was just a “Oh yeah, oops,” moment; I would move on and I was truly okay. The first one was the one that really struck me, and it has never left my memories.
My third year of college, I discovered AMF and was fascinated, knowing that there were other people all over who too, were struggling with their loss and being open about their grief. I took it upon myself to create a chapter for the university. The meetings AMF held was an open space to speak with others and connect! AMF really empowered me to keep positive and allow myself to grieve positively, rather than drink or do something harmful. I will confess that years prior, drinking was the route I wanted to seek but that didn’t last long.
I would also like to point out that during my time in college, I made some really great friends and they were my support during that time, allowing me to talk about my grief; they still are the best support.
A. Hernandez, Past AMF at Campbell University Chapter Founder