Why we grieve: Remembering lost Olivetians

By Meg Dowell

Shortly following her unexpected passing in March 2013, the Olivet community gathered together to celebrate the life of senior education major Miley Reed.

Six months later, students, faculty and friends gathered once again to honor the life of Dr. Johnson, head of the engineering department who also passed away suddenly this past year.

Miley Reed was a senior educa- tion major at Olivet when she passed away, a year ago on Mar. 14. She suffered from cardiac arrhythmia. Photo submitted by Jackie Vanderlaan.
Miley Reed was a senior education major at Olivet when she passed away,
a year ago on Mar. 14. She suffered from cardiac arrhythmia. Photo submitted by Jackie Vanderlaan.

As we commemorate the lives of those we have lost, we also grieve those losses just as heavily. The walk along the journey between denial and acceptance are some of the toughest steps we’ll ever take.

Everyone grieves in their own time and their own way. An important aspect of grief often overlooked, however, is the positive impact it can have on our emotional well-being as we move through each stage of this deep psychological process at our own pace.

While grief is a difficult emotion to carry on our shoulders, bearing its weight makes us stronger over time. The grieving process makes us more aware of the strengths of others as well as those of ourselves.

According to Patty O’Grady, Ph.D., in remembering those we have lost, we also remember the ways they lit up our lives.

Mentally highlighting the positive ways they influenced us also helps us recognize our own strengths, and inspires us to share those qualities with those around us. Through this inspiration comes the strength to appreciate who we are and our purpose in this world.

As human beings originally created for companionship, we cannot grieve a loss alone. In our grief we cannot help but turn to those around us for support. According to an article on CBN.com, one of the most difficult elements of grieving is adjusting to life without the person we have lost. Reaching out to others for help – or, from the other end, reaching out to help someone dealing with a tough loss – can help fill that dark void.

Dr. Ken Johnson was the chair of Olivet’s engineering department and played a pivotal role in the expansion of the program. He passed away on Nov. 2 last semester. Photo by Thalyta Swanepoel.
Dr. Ken Johnson was the chair of Olivet’s engineering department and played a pivotal role in the expansion of the program. He passed away on Nov. 2 last semester. Photo by Thalyta Swanepoel.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” Bearing feelings of grief and loss can turn our lives around for the better, and we might not realize it even when we’ve reached that critical point. Any tragedy we plow through is a feat worth celebrating. And once you’ve been through it, your chances of being able to help someone else through similar circumstances are that much more promising. Grieving comes in many shapes and sizes. We can mourn the loss of something as small as a bad test grade or as significant as a broken or terminated relationship with a friend or loved one.

Whether you grieve for the loss of a friend, teacher, family member or even for someone you hardly knew, always keep an eye on the good things to come from your loss. Through your trying experience you will find strength, love, and joy in the life you continue to live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *