The Power of Presence: Supporting Others through Loss and Grief
Dealing with loss is something no parent, educator, or anyone else can teach. Loss is a complicated process, intertwined with grief, sorrow, and loneliness. When my grandfather passed away in the spring of 2018, I was in my junior year of high school, struck with all of these emotions and no knowledge on how to process them. I locked my thoughts into my head and told no one how I was feeling. After all, I didn’t think there was any way others would be able to understand what I was going through.
On the day after his funeral, I came to school with a dark cloud hanging over me. I didn’t talk to my friends as much as I normally did, but no one seemed to notice. I didn’t volunteer to speak in my favorite class, and none of my classmates batted an eye. I felt invisible and started to believe no one really cared about me or how I was feeling. Or maybe worse: they didn’t notice.
All of that ended in my fourth period class. We were supposed to be taking an in-class essay and I had been dreading it all day. After all, my brain was foggy and I felt empty. How was I supposed to write an entire essay when I was going through this huge loss in my life? Much to my surprise, my teacher passed out a test packet to everyone else in the class, but left my desk empty. He told us to begin, and when I looked around confused, he beckoned me to follow him and walked outside.
He had noticed that I seemed more quiet than usual and asked me what had happened. I started crying as I told him about my grandfather. While none of my friends or classmates had commented on my demeanor, he did. I felt seen for the first time since my grandfather had died. He was present, talked me through my feelings, and really listened to what I had to say.
Those few minutes were an act of kindness that I will never forget. This experience taught me to do my best to show others the grace he showed me. I have carried that lesson with me and have tried to always remember there may be something someone is going through that I just don’t know about. We all have the chance to create a powerful moment in another’s life just by being present for them.