Living with Loss, But Not Staying Lost

Nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Tatyana Bell, a senior Biological Sciences major with a pre-medical track, shares her first-hand account of grief, love and resilience. 

Throughout life we always hear the words “expect the unexpected.” However, during your final semester as a senior in college, you don’t expect that unexpected event to be the loss of your parent.

As we find ourselves in a pandemic, this unexpected event has sadly become the new normal for young individuals.

During winter break, my family and I were all diagnosed with the coronavirus, in which it took the final breath of my father at the age of 45 years old.

On Jan. 4, 2021 I had to say that last and final goodbye through a glass wall. The last touch that was given to me from my father, was not physically from him, himself. That last touch was given to me by a doctor. As I watched a red line drag across the screen, and in a very faint voice she read the final time and hugged me tight.

Tatyana with her father at a homecoming game.
Author Tatyana Bell (right) with her father, Mark (left), at her 2017 high school Homecoming. Tatyana won Homecoming queen, and her father escorted her at the game.

Moving forward often seems less promising when someone close to you is no longer there. You often fight for that voice and that presence to magically reappear. You find yourself feeling guilty when wanting to move on with your own life, because knowing that your loved one is no longer able to share those happy moments with you, it makes those moments seem less rewarding at that given time.

These emotions continue to build as time goes on. However, these are all the normal feelings that one will endure when dealing with grieving.

Tatyana and her father at a family vacation.
A younger Tatyana (left) and Mark are seen here at a family vacation in Virginia (2004).

Grief and love are two words that mirror one another. Because it is love that makes us grieve. I am here to say to you that even when life is not as beautiful as it was before, we most hold onto that love.

When you feel that tight feeling in your body that just wants to be released with screams, those are the memories that keep replaying in your mind. The same memories that give you comfort in knowing that, that individual is with you forever.

It seems diabolical when one expects you to live when you’re enduring so much pain inside. But finding your purpose in life makes every day much easier. Giving up has always been the easy way out, but coming so far as a college student, we cannot make that the answer because we were lucky enough with another chance.

I remind myself every day that when life seems unfair, I must continue forward because when I become a doctor, I owe that hug to a family that was just like me. The family that had to move on, and the family that will miss their Dad forever.

Tatyana at a mountain summit.
Tatyana at the summit of Mt. Tammany in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Love is so beautiful, but we often get reminded that it is also very painful. However, healing is mandatory for all. The timing is all up to you, but know you are never alone. 

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