Macomb 91.3fm - Galesburg 90.7fm Keokuk 89.5fm - Burlington 106.3fm
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Grieving

Courtesy photo
Maren McIlvaine-Newsad (right) with her Opa

Grieving; "To feel grief, or great sorrow."

Death to me is something that happens every day. Whether be a plant, or animal, people and things die all the time. My mama says that it's a part of life, so on January 20, 2018 when my grandpa Opa died, my reaction was grief.

Now I hadn’t seen him in a while, and our last visit didn’t end on good terms, but I loved him so much. My Opa was the kind of man who would tell you how when he was young he bought explosives and blew stuff up, and he was also the kind of man that if my family wasn’t my #1 supporter in swimming it would be him. He was funny, caring, supportive, and a really good listener.

I live 8 hours away from my Oma and Opa so seeing them wasn’t rare, but it was hard, but running into the big farm house after an 8 hour car ride and getting big bear hugs and kisses made it all worth it. Now as time went on and we got older it got a lot harder and the last time I saw my Opa was when I was going into high school, so over 2 years ago. So getting the news that someone you haven’t seen in 2 years is dead is heartbreaking, but I didn’t cry. I had prepared myself for this day for over 2 years. Sounds terrible, but I got something worse than tears. Depression.

My mind was basically in the gutter, but my body told me to move. “We can’t sit here and be sad, he wouldn’t want that. Move girl. Move.”

The week following his death was one of the hardest weeks of my life. No final or state swim meet could match the fact that it was a slow and hard week. Friends were giving me condolences, teachers with heartbroken looks on their faces when told I wouldn’t be there that Friday, and just the feeling of sadness creeping up when I was just sitting in class.

I don’t know why this hit me so hard. It’s just a part of life isn’t it? I remembered when my uncle Sean died almost 3 years ago, it took my mama 3 months and a trip out of the country to stop grieving, but then again sometimes under her breath I’ll hear her say , “Oh Sean, I wish you were here.”

Everyone grieves in different ways. Some are quiet and do it when people aren’t around, and some just cry and take the time to reflect.

People also do different things to cope with grieving. Some might take off time from work, or take a trip, or just try and move on as quickly as they can. 

One thing that I have found helpful was swimming. Now I know I swim all the time, but I’m talking 5:00 a.m. on a Tuesday when most of the world is still asleep, I’m up working out and starting my day. Something about swimming a couple of laps and having the water in your ears reminding you, that you can try and swim your worries away.

Even though I cannot run away from this, I must face it head on like a bull, but I won’t charge at it, instead I will walk with my head high and keep the saying, “People die all the time, it’s a part of life.” Because we are on a journey called life. It might throw you curve balls, and destroy everything in your path, but you must keep going. Because life is going to move on with or without you, it’s your choice whether you get up and move or you just stay there, we all get on the same path eventually.

So Opa, here is to you and your 83 years. Where the path takes you next is hopefully to a better place and I know you will be watching your little mermaid and the rest of us go through our paths.

Maren McIlvaine-Newsad is a sophomore at Macomb High School. 

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio. Diverse viewpoints are welcome and encouraged.