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  • Natalie Adams

Unexpected Driving School Grief

The day I turned 15, I began anxiously awaiting getting my drivers license. I didn’t realize how hard driving school would be for me, though.

Grieving teenager driving near a school bus.

The day I turned 15, I began counting the days until I could get my drivers license. I was ecstatic, prepared to spend my 16th year driving with friends, seeing people, and being able to do things on my own. The days, weeks, and months flew by, and I finally was old enough to start driving school. My mom scheduled my first lesson, and I spent the next few weeks counting down the time until I could start my classes.

On the morning of my first class, I got all dressed up and spent the whole day waiting for my 5 o’clock lesson. At exactly 4:30 I got in the car with my mom to leave, and my excitement and nervousness peaked. We drove to the school, went in and did paperwork, and then I went to my seat and waited for class to begin. When the class started, and the instructor began his monotone lesson, the realization hit me: driving school wasn't going to be as fun as I had expected.

This boredom continued for hours. About 20 minutes before the end, however, our instructor told us that we were going to spend the rest of class watching videos. Yes! I exclaimed in my head. In school, whenever we watched videos, class instantly became 10 times more fun, and I was thrilled that our class was finally going uphill.

I don’t know what I expected before our instructor turned on the video, but I know that it was nothing like what I actually saw.

My body went cold as I watched videos of real car crashes. I felt sick when I listened to family members of the deceased crash victim talk about what had happened. Somehow, hearing about the grief these people faced was worse than the crashes, most likely relating to how I was also going through what they were, with my dad having died a few months before. Even when I managed to pry my eyes from the screen, I could still hear everything in the video, which was almost as bad.

As soon as my class ended, I held my tears in until I got to my mom’s car, and, between sobs, told her about everything that had happened. We went out for ice cream then, and a few times after, as we watched similar videos at the end of each lesson.

While I just tried to ignore the videos, there are other things I could’ve done before or after my class, and things you can do in similar situations:

1. Talk to my instructor. I could’ve asked about other things I could’ve done during the times the rest of the class watched videos, or to warn me before a graphic photo was shown.

2. Ask ahead of time. Now, before I go to things that could trigger my grief, such as driving school, I ask my friends or a teacher if there is anything to expect, and how I should best cope with it.

3. Figure out another coping mechanism that works for you. For example, during the rest of the driving school videos, I would attempt to zone out and try to think of things that made me happy.

Your grief can catch you off guard at places you would’ve never expected. By using a tip I mentioned above, or one of your own, though, you can keep your grief from holding you back.


Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.

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