Layla M. Halterman: email@example.com
Dear Ursinus Family,
I revere Valentine’s Day because it compels us to celebrate the love and affection around us. But grief is a form of love, a truth that is often unspoken, and I think it is worth honoring too. I have spent the better half of my young adulthood navigating the life-changing tides of loss, trying to make sense of the fact that humans fade in and out of each others’ lives.
Much like love, there are types of grief. The heart-wrenching loss of someone who is unable to be physically present again but only in spirit and the loss of someone who is still living with no trace of how they are doing. They both hurt the heart, but the second, in my opinion, is the most soul-crushing because our skin gets caught on hooks made up of all the futures we thought we’d have.
Moreover, it is painful to love someone from afar, to watch but from the outside. The once-familiar elements of their lives are reduced to nothing more than occasional mentions in superficial conversations and faces maturing in photographs on social media. They exist now as nothing more than proof that something can hurt even with no contact at all.
From very early on, I was taught the narrative that ‘moving on’ from someone still alive meant I had to forget or unlove them. That rhetoric was so deeply ingrained that I wholeheartedly believed no different, that I had to do just so in order to fully heal. But as the years progressed, I came to realize my original thought process was doing me a severe injustice, manufacturing only a relapse, never a cure. It was only then I adopted the philosophy that emotions can in fact co-exist, that I will always limp with grief and a constant dull ache for what never will be, but I know I have and will continue to experience moments of joy and fulfillment without them.
At one point or another, we all have to come face-to-face with loss. Grief is like a backpack we cannot put down. We always carry it. Sometimes it is so light that we almost forget we are wearing it, giving us the courage to reminisce without shedding a tear. But other times, like during the holidays or when hearing a song on the radio, it feels like a boulder on our back, causing us to lose our footing and question everything.
I know full well that it hurts every day, the absence of someone who was once there. But as a wise man once said, just because a person leaves does not mean your love for them has to. It just takes a different form and serves as evidence of our resilience not only on Valentine’s Day but every day.