The other night, I broke down when I found out that I had accidentally deleted an outline I made for a paper that I was going to write. I was so frustrated because I’d been putting it off for weeks, and when I was finally going to do it, I screwed up. 

However, I was confused as to why my reaction was so severe. It’s normal for me to be annoyed when I lose things related to my academic requirements. But that was different, and it was obviously rooted in something deeper. Then, I realized that it was because I had been spending weeks putting up a front in order to function. 

In the last week of November, one of my closest friends, Belle, passed away. We were classmates from Grade 9 to 10, but our friendship really grew when we got to senior high. Although we studied in different schools, we always kept in touch. I didn’t have a lot of friends in my school, so most of my free time I spent messaging and calling my friends elsewhere, mostly Belle. Apart from my childhood best friend, Belle was the one who knew the most about me. She was family to me and I loved her deeply. So when I heard the news about her passing, I was truly devastated. It was so sudden. I could not believe it.

No, she didn’t die from COVID-19. I messaged one of her classmates to ask if they knew what happened. She replied and told me that Belle suddenly had fever and was rushed to the hospital. When she was placed in the ICU, the doctors found out that she had a brain tumor. It was shocking because she never showed any signs of sickness. She was always so cheerful and energetic whenever we talked on the phone. She looked pretty healthy in her pictures on her My Day. She never told me she was sick. I still could not believe what happened to her. She was too young.

I wasn’t able to mourn properly. I was forced to suck up all my emotions because I had deadlines to finish and chores to attend to. So when I made a mistake, I lost it and I fell apart. All I wanted was time to remember my dear friend, but I didn’t have that luxury. 

We’ve been in this pandemic for almost 10 months now and we have seen countless news about case updates. People have somewhat morphed into mere numbers as infection cases and death rates rise every single day. It’s dehumanizing if you think about it. Many of us are stuck putting up a brave face every single day just to finish work or manage the house and take care of our loved ones. There is no time to actually process what is happening. There is no time to grieve.

If you have lost someone this year to COVID-19 or other causes, you may have experienced what I felt. I’m telling you—it’s okay to take time to process it. It may be easier to just bury the emotions inside like I did, but it won’t be good in the long run. It’s okay to take small steps to accept what happened and begin healing. There are a lot of tips that we can find online telling us how to deal with grief, but the healing process is unique for everyone. Find what brings you comfort. It can be music, art, books, or new hobbies. 

It’s important to reach out to other people if you need help. It’s good to be connected with friends and loved ones who will support your healing process. If you have a therapist, or could get in touch with one, that would be beneficial for you in finding ways to cope. 

It’s all right if there are days when our tough exterior doesn’t feel strong enough, and we feel like we’re surrendering to the wave of sadness. Let’s feel it. It’s okay to cry. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not okay to feel emotional. Know that not all days will feel like this, and eventually it will get better.

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