After you lose someone, there are a lot of firsts to go through. First birthday, first holiday, first big memory, and more. But, one of the biggest firsts for a grieving teen is something that not a lot of people talk about: summer break.
I lost a parent, so my life changed a lot after my dad's death. By the time the first summer after his death came, though, I had thought that the big changes were basically over. I had already gone through most of the typical firsts, minus the anniversary of my dad's death, so I didn't really expect anything big to happen involving my grief during my break.
When my summer break began, I found myself thinking a lot about my break the year before. Memories with my dad popped up, such as the vacation we had taken that break. Whenever I remembered moments involving my dad, I always got upset, but for some reason I became even more sad than usual when thinking back on those times. Even though I had amazing summer plans to look forward to, I kept on thinking about the previous year.
That's about when I realized how important the "first summer" after a loved one's death is. While most people focus on firsts that last only a few days, such as holidays, my summer was almost three months long, which would be a lot harder for me to deal with. So much change was going to happen during those three months: New memories, vacations, traditions, and more. This was one of the biggest and most untalked about firsts of all!
One of the biggest things things that I had to learn during that summer was that new memories don't have to replace the old. Things don't have to be the same for good memories to be made. My dad wasn't there, so it was obvious that things weren't going to be the same, which meant that me comparing everything that was going on to previous summers where he was there just didn't make sense, and made me enjoy the beginning of my summer less. Instead, when I began embracing new traditions and memories instead of comparing them to the past, I began to feel better any enjoy myself.
Along with that, another thing that helped me get through the first summer was time. Time basically helps with almost anything grief related, so this is sort of obvious, but it really did help me. I thought I would be upset all summer, and I wasn't. Yes, I still missed my dad, but I learned to live in the present instead of the past, and that combined with time made my summer amazing.
Right now, I'm living through another summer without my dad, and even though the coronavirus is affecting a lot, I'm okay. I still miss my dad a lot, but I know that I can still miss him and remember him while I'm enjoying my new summer traditions and memories. If you haven't already, you can get through the first summer. And, also remember this: You can make new memories without replacing the old ones.
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Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks. Photo by Claudia Altamimi.