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Grieving for senior memories lost, finding the positive

A student's story

As we all know, a big change occurred suddenly this year, impacting everyone, but for me personally, I lost my senior year. Not only did I lose my senior year, but I specifically lost the best part of senior year, the Broadway trip, the senior picnic, Senior Skip Day, prom and, most upsetting, traditional graduation. I am struggling to process this. I can’t seem to accept the reality that I’m done with high school — that I won’t walk the halls of Williamsport Area High School again, I won’t see my classmates all together again. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to everyone. I didn’t get to end high school on my own terms. I am sad, I am bitter and I am angry. And what I have finally come to realize is that I am grieving.

It didn’t hit me until recently. At the beginning of quarantine, I was happy to not be in school. “It’ll be like two spring breaks,” I thought. Boy, was I wrong!

I never imagined March 13th would be my last day of high school! Even when virtual school began, I thought it would just be for a little while. Maybe I was too preoccupied with online school, tests or even my new hobbies, but I don’t remember feeling overly sad the day they announced school was closed for the rest of the year. After all, I hadn’t lost a family member or a job. I remember thinking, “You can’t change anything, so what’s the point of feeling sad?” Looking back, I was probably just in denial.

At this point, I would say I have grieved — even that I am grieving — as I’m sure we all will at some point if we have not already. I think what has surprised me most in this whole situation is that grief is different from what I had previously thought.

I think I even tried to focus on all the positive things going on in the world and my community in an attempt to ignore the grief. “Adopt a senior” initiatives were very special to me.

Teachers at the high school sent letters and emails to students and made videos to honor the students. Albright Studios made signs for students and teachers. Celebrities are hosting commencement ceremonies and giving speeches online. Others even are giving money to people who can’t pay their bills or afford groceries.

Despite trying to stay focused on all the positive, I still have bad days. Some days I lay in bed thinking about the opportunities I’m missing, thinking about hanging out with my friends, thinking about how college is quickly approaching but I don’t feel like I’m done with high school, and thinking about how I just feel alone. But now I know my despair will pass, whether it’s tomorrow when I wake up or after a nap or maybe after I get preoccupied doing something.

I just need to keep telling myself this is a lousy situation that I need to get through. I know I will get through it.

Even though it’s lousy timing, this still marks the end of an era. It’s the end of high school and the end of me writing this column.

In June, I will move on to new opportunities after graduation. I will hopefully start college at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall, majoring in accounting.

I specifically want to dedicate all of my columns to my great-grandmother, Betty Haag, for being a loyal reader and my number one fan. Lastly, thank you to everyone who has read my columns and given me a voice.

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