Confessions of a Twenty-Something: Going On Without a Loved One
Welcome to Confessions of a Twenty-Something- a series of thoughts that have been on my mind as a twenty-something in America living through the Not-So-Roaring Twenties.
I’ve been thinking about starting this series for a while, but could never find the right time or subject…
However, on September 8th, 2022, inspiration struck. I had been thinking about this topic for a while as it swirled through my mind often throughout 2021, but I was reminded of it a couple of weeks ago…
Today, we’re talking about watching our heroes age and eventually pass on. I know- it’s an extremely heavy subject for some, including me. However, I feel like it’s not talked about enough amongst our generation for something that so strongly impacts us.
So, if you’ve experienced loss and/or watching a hero age, this article is your safe space to remember your loved ones as they were, relate to someone else who has been through similar experiences (hi! 👋🏻), and gain a fresh perspective that might help you through your grieving processes past, present, & future ✨
Wondering what happened on September 8th, 2022? 🤔
Sadly, the Queen of England passed away. Watching the world mourn such a steadfast and powerful monarch while experiencing the grief of a queen I admired was a sharp reminder that we’re all getting older.
While my grief for the queen was not nearly as strong as the grief I’ve felt for my family members, it reminded me that everyone dies- even the people you never think will die (like the beautiful Betty White).
This kind of grief can cause panic in our minds on top of a profound sadness. What are we going to do without our loved one? What is the world going to look like without this powerful figure? What’s going to happen to our life now that one of the core people we’ve created it with is gone?
I remember thinking many of these things when my grandpa died. My grandpa was the foundation on which our family had grown. Without him, it felt like one of the major pillars on which our family was built gave way.
What are we going to do without him? What is this life going to look like without him in it?
Furthermore, he had cancer, so the months leading up to his passing were the worst of transitory periods. I dare say the experience of watching the healthy person you knew decline in their ability to live their life is almost as jarring as the death itself.
While going through these experiences as a twenty-something who had only known life with these figures, I felt helpless about what to do. I didn’t know what my new life was going to look like and hadn’t talked about an experience like this with anyone else, especially those around my age.
I think, deep down, we all have a fear of seeing our heroes age- the ones we love so dearly that we would do anything for them. In the moments where their health declines, we’d do anything to take their pain away. Then, in death, we’d do anything to see them again- just one more time.
It is during these moments that we must try our hardest to turn towards the light. I know- I heard this so often during times of grief and it made me want to scream.
However, it’s so true- but this light doesn’t have to look like happier times with the one you’ve lost (in times of grief, this often makes me grieve even more). The greatest tool I’ve used to help through these times is…
Gratitude- It’s the all-encompassing mindset that has the power to single-handedly pull you over the edge and over the other side of the mountain of grief you’ve been climbing.
Some of the things I’ve found to be grateful for in these difficult moments are…
All the good times with that person (when you’re feeling up to those memories)
That the person has completed a beautiful life (because life is beautiful)
That the person is out of pain (especially if they were in pain for an extended amount of time)
For twenty-somethings specifically, deaths can be jarring as they mean we’re one step closer holding the responsibility of being older and more experienced. For example, when a parent dies, the eldest child often feels like the new matriarch/patriarch of the family.
To me, it feels like a quarter-life crisis, but it’s all part of life. Us twenty-somethings are getting older and experiencing the joys of marriage and children already. As the years go on, more and more of us will step into these roles and experience the trials and triumphs the generation before us fought so hard for.
What this all boils down to is the circle of life. Many of us, including myself, are in one of those awkward in-between phases where we don’t know our place quite yet. Losing a loved one throws this concept into sharp relief as our perception of life changes vastly without our loved one’s presence.
However, I know we’ll all get exactly where we need to be and our loved ones will always help us get there. No matter how old I get, I will carry the lessons my loved ones taught me (especially to “be bad”- courtesy of my grandpa 💛) and those lessons will guide me to make the right decisions for me.
In this crazy circle we call life, remember to listen to your loved ones, spend quality time with quality people, and go forth with gratitude for the way life goes (even in the tough moments) and those who have left their handprint on your heart ✨