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Screw school pamphlets, unhelpful grief groups, and people saying “sorry for your loss.” It’s time to get real about grief. We’re in this together.

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What should I do when a classmate says something rude?
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Do your non-grieving friends know how to comfort you?
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3 ways music can ease the pain of missing your person
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Is it okay to experience joy when I’m grieving?
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What we're lovin'

by Quinn, age 17

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is a book detailing Strayed’s hike of the Pacific Coast Trail and reflecting on death loss of her mother and her own identity. 

This book immediately interested me because of the beautiful imagery of the Pacific coast, but as I read on I encountered articulated descriptions of my own grief (my mother died when I was 14). I could empathize with the author as she wrote “It was wrong. It was so relentlessly wrong that my mother had been taken from me.” 

But I also read lines celebrating the joy of nature, movement, love, and art. Strayed expertly balances grief with the excitement and happiness of adventure. This book is beautiful read for anyone, especially anyone looking for understanding in the wake of a death.

"The Sky is Everywhere"
"The Sky is Everywhere"

by Tina, age 17

I’ve never seen the messiness of grief better captured than in the movie, “The Sky is Everywhere.” This story, based off of an award-winning novel by Jandy Nelson, hits super close to home. It tells a story of a girl named Lennie and how her whole world falls apart after the loss of her older sister, Bailey.

While I myself have never lost a sister, I could deeply relate to this world of grief after the death of my mom. While Lennie’s experiences are mostly based around her messy love life between the new boy in town and her late sister’s boyfriend (YEAH, YIKES), there are many layered themes within. 

While I think overall I prefer the way the story is told in the book, the most beautiful part of the film is how raw it feels. I feel that practically every stage of grief was somehow represented. You can truly feel the hurt through the screen: As she runs away through the woods. As she irrationally screams at her loved ones. As she lays in the piles of her sister’s clothes just to remember her. And in every messy mistake she makes. All of this truly captures the intensity you feel after a loss. The way you wish that other people would get it, especially at such a young age. But more than anything…the way you feel you’ve gone mad.

But as someone who in my own life has put so much emphasis into putting all of these emotions into an outlet (songwriting for me!), my favorite part was Lennie’s journey to find her outlet.

Lennie is an incredibly talented clarinet player who, with the help of her musically talented love interest, had to rediscover not only her love of music, but also her happiness. She was able to reignite the flame inside her when it felt like grief had forever dimmed that light.

In typical grief fashion, Lennie initially feels guilty for feeling joy after a loss, but in the end there’s this beautiful acceptance. Overall I really think The Sky Is Everywhere is worth a read, a watch, or even both! In a sea of grief content, this one’s a winner. 

"Chip on My Shoulder"
"Chip on My Shoulder"

by Aryn, age 15

What we love: “Chip on my shoulder" by Rod Wave

I so appreciate the lyrics:

“And this life we live is strange
I've been lost since I was young
'Member pops had went to prison
That's when we was low on funds
Mama said I have this chip on my shoulder, that's forever
Seen them close the casket on Deja
We grew up together.”

These lyrics are powerful because watching the casket close on someone you loved, especially a parent or a loved one or someone who played that role, is hard and it hurts I feel like the song is a good one for people who are grieving a loved one because sometimes you feel like there’s a chip on your shoulder, and it’s just totally relatable. 

Dan Levy quote on grief
Dan Levy quote on grief

Why we love the quote below: Because it's exactly the truth.

"Grief can feel like this incredibly isolated experience because it's hitting you and you leave your house and you look around and people are in the grocery store and kids are laughing and things people are carrying on. And you are in grief, you're in pain. Oftentimes it's like inescapable, insufferable, all consuming pain. And when people around you are not experiencing that, it can send you into an even greater state of isolation because you think no one understands." 

From episode #276, "Dan Levy’s Good News: No One Knows What They’re Doing," on the podcast "We Can Do Hard Things."

"My father died in an accident when I was 12, and I was completely lost. It's important to have a place where I don’t always have to pretend it’s all ok, where I don’t have to wipe away my tears."

– Avner, age 16
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