Normal West struggles with grief


Jim Rumps

Normal West English teacher Mr. Rumps has been letting students write letters to Livi Sonetz, who passed away this last Wednesday. This is one of the many ways students have been grieving and coping with the loss of their fellow Wildcat.

Hannah Sieg, Staff Reporter

Grief is the feeling of deep sorrow; something you usually feel after someone’s death. It’s when you feel pain. It’s the process of accepting the fact you’ve lost someone who meant so much to you.

No one wants to feel pain.

No one wants to accept the fact they’ve lost someone they love.

No one wants to experience grief.

It’s unfair we have to go through something so painful.

But we can’t control death. Inevitably, you’ll experience grief at some point in your life. Some people have experienced grief so much it’s become a second nature to them.

Since I started school here at Normal West three and a half years ago, our school, especially the class of 2018, has experienced a tremendous amount of grief.

In August of 2015 we lost Emily Spinks, a friend of many who came from Parkside Junior High, who took her own life.

In September of 2017 we lost Rachel Dean, one of the Normal West swim coaches, in a fatal car accident.

In November of 2017 we lost David Stiles, a 2017 Tri-Valley graduate who was friends with many people from West, in a devastating car accident.

Just this past Wednesday, on March 7, we lost Olivia Sonetz, one of our own Wildcats who was supposed to graduate this May, in another heartbreaking car accident.

Although not everyone at West knew these people, it’s easy to say most students from our school have experienced grief, or have seen someone else grieve before. Some people might have even mastered grief by now.

But does grieving get easier? After experiencing it so much, will it ever feel natural?

I’d say no. There is no such thing as mastering grief. But there are different ways to cope with it.

Acknowledging your pain is an important first step. It’s crucial you let your body feel. Feelings are sensations in the body, not thoughts to be judged. It will heal faster being loved and acknowledged than being ignored and pushed away.

Getting support is another key component to grieving. Just because grief is healthy and normal, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Finding others who are experiencing the same thing can help you through the process.

From personal experience, something that might help is thinking what that person would want.

I was close friends with Emily Spinks and before she passed, she wrote me and my friends a note. She wanted us to stay strong for her and continue to live our lives.

Although I was upset with her for leaving us, I knew I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, be upset for too long. I had to do what she wanted me to do which was continue to grow up and live my life. This helped me a lot through my grieving process. To anyone who has grieved, or is grieving right now, do whatever you need to do in order to get through this difficult process. Know it will get better. But it won’t get better unless you let it.

So here’s to anyone who has been strong enough to make it through the grieving process.

Here’s to the Normal West class of 2018 who has felt pain way too often.

Here’s to the other classes at Normal West who’ll hopefully not have to experience any more grief during high school.

Here’s to the amazing staff who are willing to help us through this long and painful process.

But most of all, here’s to the loved ones we’ve lost: Emily, Rachel, David, and Olivia. We love you all so much. You may be gone, but you will never, ever, be forgotten.