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123 Grief Street doesn’t have to be your new home

It’s OK to experience grief, but you don’t have to let it become your new home. 

I’ve unfortunately experienced my fair share of grief in my 21 years on this Earth.

When I was 18 years old, I lost my dad. I never thought I would escape the constant state of grief that I lived in after that. 

My dad adopted me when I was six after my biological father left me at just one year old. He took me in when my other father didn’t want me. I never considered him to be anything other than my dad, and he was gone too soon. 

Before I had the chance to get married. Before I could have children. Before I could buy my first home. Before I could graduate from college. He’s going to miss so many of the milestones that I now have to go through without him. 

There is never a right time for someone to pass away. There is never a right time for it to hurt less. But it always feels like it’s too soon — no matter how or when they passed, no matter how old we are or they are. 

With the number of COVID-19 deaths consistently rising in the United States, more people are sharing my experience of losing loved ones. 

They are experiencing the same kind of heartache and grief that I have. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles missing the important milestones of their loved ones’ lives. 

But grief doesn’t have to be where you live. It doesn’t have to be where you stay forever, in constant sadness and misery. 

At my grandma’s funeral, the pastor said, “Grief is like a field. It’s OK to take your time, pass through the field and smell the flowers, but you shouldn’t sit down in the field. You shouldn’t stop and stay there.”

I think the pastor was onto something there. It’s OK to experience grief. It’s OK to hate the world and question why your loved one was taken so soon. It’s OK to cry and be sad. But eventually, you have to move on and focus on the future. 

You can still be sad about your loved one’s passing. Birthdays and holidays will pass, and the sadness may creep into your heart again — and that’s OK. 

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There is no timetable for how long you should grieve — no limit to how long you can be sad for and no rulebook to tell you how to process it. Everyone grieves differently. 

I have experienced my own fair share of grief and death, losing both of my grandmas, my grandpa, my dad, my great uncle, my cousin and my boyfriend’s grandpa. It’s so easy to want to stay grieving forever and to stay hurting and hating the world. 

But I promise you, your loved ones would want you to live your life.

They’d want you to find happiness, marry the love of your life and have children, graduate college, get your dream job and buy your dream house. 

It’s OK to experience grief, but don’t let it become your new home. 

So, if you’re sitting in that field right now, get up and walk with me.