I woke up on St. Patrick’s Day, what is supposed to be the luckiest day of the year, and learned my senior year at Missouri State would finish online.
More painful: No more jokes with classmates, office hours with professors who have become family, library cram sessions with friends or campus meetings for my student ministry.
Most painful: This isn’t temporary for the seniors. This is permanent.
It didn’t feel like luck to me.
It’s a tough time to be a senior
For years, I’ve looked forward to these last few months of college.
It’s a time that should be filled with joy. It should be filled with job searches, tulips on campus, celebrations with friends and family and donning a fancy mortarboard on May 15.
Instead, it is filled with a pain I didn’t want. It’s a pain that is withholding the usual joy that fills my springtime.
This pain is grief
A week after COVID-19 flipped my senior year upside down, I read an article that defined this pain and discomfort as grief.
“If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it,” writes Scott Berinato, the author of the Harvard Business Review article.
Naming my pain as grief has helped me get through the loss of my senior spring. It has validated my sadness and anger at a situation I can’t control.
It has also reminded me that healing is possible.
Together as Bears
My pain is so strong because my love for MSU is even stronger. In these dark times, I can still find bright spots within our campus community.
My professors are checking in with us every day. They are sending articles and videos they think will bring smiles to our faces. They are understanding the toll this crisis may be taking on our learning and our mental health.
Administration and my coworkers in marketing and communications are working day in and day out to bring us updated information and resources. I see their work from the inside, and it’s phenomenal even in a circumstance like this.
I can see my friends’ faces on Zoom. We laugh just as much.
Campus is still blooming. The other day I saw a photo of the tulips outside Carrington.
Hope is still here. I am clinging to it with all I have.
Healing is not linear
Despite the good, I am still having trouble getting through this.
If there is anything I have learned from grief, it’s that healing is not linear. Loss doesn’t get easier with every passing day. It goes back and forth.
To my fellow senior classmates: Go easy on yourselves. You are experiencing the loss of plans, routine and normalcy. You are grieving the spring semester that can’t be.
I’m looking forward to the day we can celebrate together as the class of 2020, even though it will look different.
Getting there is not going to be easy. You will have good days and bad days.
Treasure the good and learn from the bad. They are both necessary.
Thank you, Missouri State
Early in fall of 2019, I was walking to Siceluff from the Hammons Student Center parking lot. The sunlight was reflecting off bright red and orange leaves, I was listening to music in my headphones and the fountain was rushing with bright blue water.
I stopped in my tracks by the football field and looked around. I started crying.
When I came to Missouri State in 2016, I didn’t think saying goodbye in 2020 would be so difficult, even if we weren’t in a global pandemic.
I didn’t know these four years would shape me into the person I always wanted to be.
I didn’t know I would find friends I love like family. I hadn’t yet experienced a campus and a community that feel like home.
But during that walk to class, I knew I was home.
Missouri State will always be home.
And for that, I am grateful.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic. Many, many people are struggling with it.
People are in dangerous and emotionally draining situations. We are all collectively grappling with a shift in our world.
Your feelings are valid. You are allowed to be angry, sad, hopeful, or optimistic.
You are not alone. Seek help.