The Clouds of Grief

Dear Zach,

This is not as much for you as for anyone else reading today finding themselves struggling with grief, but this is something I desperately wish I was mulling over and discussing with you! While flying home from Canada today, I found myself even more mesmerized with the clouds than I usually am. There was nothing particularly enchanting about them, nothing exceptionally beautiful about these dreary grey clouds, but my eyes were glued to the window. Really the whole idea of flying and how it compares to grief was on my mind, but especially the clouds.

I realized that flying through the clouds is much like grief. I despise, DESPISE, the five stages of grief concept that people preach about (something those who know me well know I have wanted to write about since day one) because there is no linear track through grief like a subway where you can get on at one stop and take a straight shot to the last stop (something I have already written about). All that to say….. the clouds spoke to me about grief today in a way I had never thought about.

Bear with me as I may seem longwinded, but there has been a lot pondered during this hour layover and it has become heavy on my heart to share. But I do apologize for what is apparently my longest post ever!!!

I know there are so many people out there who think they are grieving wrong because they are doing it differently than how other people are. Society has a much different view of grief and I know I thought I had gone stark raving mad…. that no one had ever felt this way and that I was so wrong to feel this way. So this is me trying to use my own grief to appeal to all the people out there who think what they are feeling is wrong. Spoiler alert – it is not wrong. Your grief is your own and no one can tell you what it is or how you should grieve. images (2) When we get on the airplane, we have a destination in mind. We know where we need to go, but we surrender all control to higher powers – – – the pilot, the weather, good luck, God… what have you. No one can control the timeframe so you have to sit back and let it happen. You will get there when you get there.

GRIEF: once forced upon a journey of grief, you are forced to surrender control. We who grieve know where we should be or need to be (a healthy, functioning, not devastated place), but it may not be our choice when we arrive there. I believe grief is a process experienced by everyone differently and some may heal faster than others, but everyone will grieve in their own way. We have to feel what we are meant to feel and no one can impose a time schedule. The whole “one year to grieve” misconception makes me so frustrated because those are the people who do not understand loss and that maybe you do not heal in a year. It isn’t their place to tell you how long you need to recover from your loss and to go through the grieving process. Go ahead… I give you permission. Grieve as long as you need to until you get to a place of healing. images (3) During takeoff you can feel yourself slide back in the seat slightly as you hurtle at high speeds towards things you cannot see. Still powerless, simply accepting the path. You can feel it coming as the pilot accelerates down the runway, but you never know exactly when he will takeoff and leave solid ground behind.

GRIEF: when I say a “wave of grief”, I am sure many of you know what I mean and have experienced this yourself. A wave of grief can often come out of nowhere and blindside you knocking you off your feet, but sometimes you can see it coming in distance. You know it is coming, you don’t know when and you don’t know what it will entail, but the emotions are building and all you can do is blindly prepare. You hold on. You pray it will not last forever and you accept the powerless feeling until it passes and you can regain control. You get your footing, balance yourself back out, and go back to putting one foot in front of the other. You know another one will come one day, but you go on because you have to. images (5) Then you find yourself lost in the clouds, surrounded by immense amounts of white; sometimes light and fluffy, other times thick and heavy with rain. There is no visual end in sight and the clouds can seem to go on forever. You don’t know what lies on the other side and you may have to cross your fingers or clutch the armrest with a death grip or say a prayer or take a breath to trust that catastrophe isn’t on the other side.

GRIEF: finding yourself lost in a thick cloud of grief can be extremely disorienting. You may find yourself surrounded by feelings and thoughts you have never had before causing you not to recognize who or what you are. Grief can cause you to question everything and it may scare you. It becomes easy to lose your bearings and to become lost in the vastness of your grief because there is no end in sight. You become blinded to everything else other than the crushing emotions surrounding you. A thick cloud of grief that is especially heavy upon you can cause you to doubt what lies beyond it and can make you feel like it will last forever. You have to trust that it will pass and that you will come out unscathed on the other side. You will still grieve for who you have lost, but nothing compared to being lost in a crushing blinding grief cloud. untitled (2) During your time in the clouds, turbulence may rock you, jolt you, maybe frighten you. For a less-seasoned traveler or for one who is afraid of flying, this can feel like the end of the world and make you fear the worst. It feels like the bottom is dropping out as your heart jumps into your throat and the panicked thought of, “This CAN’T be right! The plane is going down!’ may cross your mind. It shakes you around, but leaves you unharmed just as quickly as it came.

GRIEF: going through grief is not an easy process and there will be days that completely rock you and shake you up. It can feel like the end, that the worst has happened, and that there is nothing else for you to do. Grief can cause you to question how so much wrong could have happened and how unfair it is. It can make you feel like the bottom is dropping out and you are freefalling through life, flailing to grasp onto anything that can bring you back to reality. The turbulent effect of grief can make an average day feel like you have gone to battle or ran a marathon because you are left feeling battered and broken. It can make you feel like giving up. But the turbulence in those thick clouds won’t last forever, you will come through it, and you will be left shaken, but ready to face another day. images (4) Eventually the airplane makes its way through and the clouds begin to dissipate and the vast whiteness gives way to glorious light. Regardless of the weather below on the surface, you can find yourself staring at an incredible landscape of gorgeous blue skies and glittering sunshine; you may feel like you are in another world. You may feel a sense of awe at this place and cause you to feel pity for the people thousands and thousands of feet below. It is a place only you are seeing and you are seeing it differently than everyone else on the plane with you.

GRIEF: perhaps grief is nothing like coming through the clouds to a beautiful place so that wasn’t a great explanation to start it off with, but grief will take you to place that you have never been and it is something unrecognizable that you may have never seen or experienced before. Living a life of grief is living a life in a totally foreign place. The house may be the same, you may still work at the same place, and your family may still celebrate things they did before; everything may be the exact same. The truth is that loss has changed your life and grief has tainted it. Things that were once comforting and usual to you may become unrecognizable, stressful, uncomfortable. You are now looking at a life that you did not have before and one that you were not expecting. Grieving is such an individual thing that no two people will experience it in the same way even if they have experienced the same loss. What you are looking at and experiencing may make you question why people aren’t feeling what you are or to ask why they aren’t feeling the impact of grief as much as you. Same as sitting on an airplane with a couple hundred people…. everyone will look out their window and see something different. Your grief is personal to you and no one can tell you that you are doing it wrong. imagesST16XUDK Then come the clouds again. Without warning, you are lost back in the whiteness. Blind to where you are going and searching your way through it, either back to the blue skies or down to the earth below. Giving up the idea of being able to see where you are going is something unnatural to humans, but lost in the clouds you have no choice. You can panic and not trust the process or you can sit back and accept what is happening.

GRIEF: days, months, or even years may pass, but one day grief may sneak up on you again because grief lives with you and becomes part of who you are. Most people learn to live with it and to live their lives as they did before, but I think they will always grieve for the person they lost even if not as deeply as during a time of fresh grief. There will always be part of you that misses them or thinks of them or mourns their loss, but the sense of overwhelming grief has passed. This is a concept that I have not reached yet with my grief for Zach and honestly it feels like an unattainable goal for me right now so I am probably not the best to write about this, but I do grieve for my father who passed away from cancer 18 years ago in this way. I still grieve for my dad. Most days I am fine. Months will go by and I go on day to day, but then there is that one day that sneaks up on me and a wave of grief will wash over me. I mourn for him still and grieve his loss and what he is missing, but that is just what will live with me and for anyone else who has lost someone that they love. I just have to accept it, even when I am unexpectedly plunged back into a feeling of grief, and not try to fight it. images3T0W74EO Finally you break through the clouds one last time and you eventually see land. Just a few more minutes and it will all be over so you can put your feet back on solid ground and regain some of your control. The ground gets closer, you may brace for impact, suck in another deep breath, but in the end you have left the clouds behind and are back to reality.

GRIEF: they tell me that one day this heavy weight of grief will pass and that the burden of Zach’s death will not weigh so heavily on me. I don’t know how it will happen, but just like an airplane making its last decent through the clouds and finishing its journey, I am told that one day it will end and this is my hope for all of us. They tell me that eventually it is supposed to pass and I will regain my footing in life so that day to day living does not feel like a desperate fight to survive. They tell me that eventually I will break through those thick clouds of grief and a less painful day will be in sight. They tell me that one day the darkness will pass, my sadness will lift, and my devastation will ease. Our realties will forever be changed because of what we have lost, but I am told that one day we will more so return to the people used to be. I don’t know when that day will be, but maybe there is hope for all who are grieving.

A Thought for Fellow Grievers: A Picture Says a 1000 Words

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They says a picture is worth a thousand words and as an obsessive photographer I have always agreed with that.  I have also always been a big fan of quotes in that I am constantly saving ones I see or writing them down from the books I read or posting them on my fridge or sharing them with my best friend, Lauren.  Since I lost Zach, my fiancé, I have either come across or been sent various pictures with quotes about grieving that have so strongly resonated with me that I now have an extensive collection of them saved in my phone or in my email.

I would like to share them here with you today because maybe you also have found yourself trapped in a similar journey with grief and you feel like me in that it gives you a small degree of comfort to know that other people are thinking and feeling the same way as you.  Maybe you can also look at a picture of someone who has experienced loss, recognize the raw emotion, and know exactly what they are feeling in that moment.

That’s the worst part about grief: to feel like you have lost your mind, that no one could ever feel the way you do, and that what you’re feeling isn’t normal.  Our grief stories might be different, our loss can have a completely different face, but grief is grief and we experience it together.  So maybe you have already seen some of these pictures or heard these quotes or maybe you won’t even get anything out of me sharing them, but I am doing this today because I need the same reminder that grief is shared by all….. even through the pure kindness of faceless online supporters.

These pictures depict, describe, define, and demonstrate grief whether it be through words or just a picture.  I hope you draw the same thing from them as I have.

From me to you,

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The Empty Driveway

“The whole house seemed to exhale a melancholy breath of emptiness”  ~~ Michael Chabon

Zach,

Since we moved into this house last year, we joked about our two white Pontiacs sitting in the driveway.  It was almost our landmark when giving people directions to the house; “Just look for the house with two white cars.”  Since you’ve been gone, your car has continued to sit there.  Every day I would pull in and it would look like someone was already home, like you were already there.  It gave me a sense of security, of comfort, and some peace of mind that it would look like someone was home with me.  Like I wasn’t utterly and tragically alone.

Well, the car sat much too long.  Sat in that driveway collecting dust for over a year now.  It wouldn’t crank, wouldn’t turn on, and wouldn’t get moving.  But we continued to let it sit there because there wasn’t really anything to be done to it.  Until this weekend.

Your parents came down on Friday and stayed until Saturday evening with me.  They had a banquet to go to and then we spent the rest of the weekend doing some things around town.  It was so nice to have them here and to have the company especially since I have been so sick.  But when they left on Saturday, they took your car with them.  Your dad got a new battery so it would finally crank but needs new tires and a few other repairs so they took it back to Eastman with them.  I walked them out, we hugged goodbye, and I watched them drive off down the street.  Then the tears came.

I sat and sobbed on my front porch for about 30 minutes before I could drag myself back into the house and continue crying there.  I was overcome with how harshly empty the driveway looked without your car there.  It screamed at me that you were gone.  A visible reminder of no one being home.  The car may not have been in working condition, but I guess it symbolized a small shred of our life.  Now that it is gone?  That is a cut that goes deep.

Zach, why am I so attached to a car that wasn’t even working or being driven or even really needed?  No, my car isn’t in the greatest shape but I wasn’t driving your car.  I didn’t need it.  So why am I so devastated over how empty my driveway looks?  I guess it’s because the driveway is now as empty as the house, as my heart, and as my soul.  Just empty.

 

My Third Guest Post ~~~ How to Acknowledge Their “Death-versary”

Back in April, I had the pleasure of speaking with the lady who coordinates online articles for the Hello Grief website and she was interested in what I could contribute to their online community.  This website is an extremely helpful resource for people who are grieving and provides much needed support and advice to its followers.  I was honored to be asked, but the time was just never right.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to share.  As I have hesitantly approached the year marker of Zach’s death, I found myself with something to say.  I tentatively approached Alisha again, because I was unsure if she would even remember me after so much time at passed, and she immediately loved the idea and provided the encourgement I needed to put into words what I wanted to say.  It was honor, not only to be published on their website, but because these truly important words were shared online on Zach’s actual day, October 9th.  It has meant the world to me and I thank Alisha for her motivation, encouragement, and for being a listening ear via email as I attempt to process my own grief.

 

How to Acknowledge Their “Death-versary”
http://www.hellogrief.org/how-to-acknowledge-their-death-versary/

Many people refer to the date of their loved one’s death as an anniversary.  I can’t bring myself to do it.  It actually makes me cringe every time I try to say it or explain what October 9thmeans to me.  The word “anniversary” has an intended association with joy, celebration, and happiness, so why would I want to acknowledge the loss of my beloved Zach with this word?

None of us ever imagined having to say good-bye so soon, so suddenly, so tragically to the ones we love, which leads me to believe that none of us are feeling particularly celebratory as the date draws near.  We all have that one day.  A day filled with dread and loaded with dismal realizations; our own person D-Day.  No, I can’t bring myself to call it an anniversary so “death-versary” it is.  Sounds a bit morbid, I know.  But how else can I honestly begin to approach this day?

October 9, 2012 marks the one year death-versary of my fiancé, Zach.  It is unimaginable that he has been gone that long.  I have alternated so many times over the last year between feeling like he was just here a minute ago and feeling like he has already been gone for four lifetimes that I think I have given myself whiplash.  Life has continued to go on while I feel frozen in place.  Days have come and gone, and yet I feel like nothing has changed.  Over the last year my friends have gotten married, had babies, gotten new jobs, found new boyfriends, and bought houses.  My crowning accomplishment is that I woke up every day and went to work or school.  I got out of bed.  Seriously? That is my accomplishment?  That is all I have achieved?  Is that really all I am capable of doing now, without Zach?  I guess I should see it as surviving, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my aspirations should be higher than just getting by.

Whether I like it or not, the first year has passed.  One whole year without the person who gave my life meaning and filled my heart with unimaginable amount of love.  So how am I supposed to acknowledge this day?  How are any of us, the unwilling members of “Club Grief,” supposed to recognize this day for what it stands for?  For most of us this day signifies one of the absolute worst days of our entire lives,  filled with loss and devastation, questions that can never truly be answered.  So how should this day be spent? I wish I had the answer, any answer, but I think every single one of us must slowly live our way into our own answers.

I truly believe that even among those grieving the loss of the same person, there will be differing opinions about how to approach this day.  Some members of the family may want to do something to commemorate the day while others adamantly refuse.  Throughout grief we are forced to constantly make decisions like: what to do with their belongings, how to celebrate the holidays, what traditions to continue on with.  These difficult decisions are ones that family and friends may agree with or firmly disagree with.  The death-versary is just another one of those decisions and one I am currently faced with.

As October 9th has slowly crept closer I have been questioning what his family and I should do.  My initial plan was to organize a fundraising event in his memory and donate the money to the school Zach had been working at.  He had recently switched from teaching to being the Parent/Teacher Liaison, a Social Worker of sorts, for a county with tremendous struggles and needs.  The resource center he created during his time there was renamed the “Zach Zone” after we lost him.  The teachers have continued his work and tried to fill the gaping void he left behind, but there are still many community needs such as food, clothing, and school supplies.  I thought organizing an event for this would be the perfect way to honor his memory, his life, and his work while giving something to the community he did so much for.

But as this day got closer and closer, my plan started to lose its appeal.  I didn’t think I had it in me to coordinate an event like this and his parents agreed it’s just too soon.  It’s something we would like to do in the future, but for right now it’s simply too daunting of a task.  Our grief is too fresh and too painful to take on something like that right now.  So now what?  I am back to the original question of how to acknowledge this day.

Should I ignore the day and just go to work and school like normal and hope it will be distracting?  Should I take the day off and spend it hiding under the covers?  Should I go spend the day with family and rely on each other for support?  Should I visit his grave?  Should we have some kind of organized service?  Should our family go visit the family of his best friend, who was killed in the same car accident?  Should this day be no different than any other day?

I think it comes down to this; whatever ends up being the final decision it will never be enough or give me any sense of comfort.  He is still gone and the excruciating pain will still be there.

So how will you acknowledge your loved ones death-versary?  How will you honor their memory?  Have found yourself ignoring the day in the past but feel ready to honor their life now?  The answer to the question of how to acknowledge this dreaded day only lies within each and every one of us, and it is my hope that we will all one day manage to feel some semblance of peace.

The Traditions We Try to Keep Up

Tradition is the illusion of permanence ~~ Woody Allen

Zach,

When grieving for someone you love deeply, while mourning their loss, and as you attempt to adjust to life without them you have no choice but to go on.  You can fight it as much as you want, you can bury your head under the pillows and shut out the world, or you can even surrender to the depression that is consistently on the verge of swallowing you whole.  But life is there whether or not you choose to ignore it.  It is hard as hell and I wish I could stop it, but whether I like it or not life is going to continue on.  Inevitably that means as time comes and goes I am forced to stare anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays dead in the face.  And each one of them hurts, each one a more painful slap in the face than the last one.  But it isn’t just those significant days that are terrible.  It’s the traditions; the silly ones, the family ones, the romantic ones, the celebratory ones.  So what now?  What do I do with those traditions we shared?  This week several of those traditions have shown their ugly faces and its been hard.

This past weekend I went away with your parents, Thursday to Monday, to keep up with the Jones’ yearly tradition of a July vacation.  Zach, we had as good a time as we could but I think we were all bombarded with countless memories of previous trips.  Especially your family.  This has been a longer tradition for them than for me.  I took the time off work when I probably couldn’t afford to and I took a day off school when its a bad idea to miss a lecture and potential testing material.  But it was important for me and for them to do it together.  It was a decision we made together to go and do it but it was hard.  Will it ever get easier?  Will it ever not suck to have to do these things alone?  Every day, and several times a day, one of us would pause and say, “Zach would love this.”  And its true.  You would have.  Beach, sun, surf, playing in the waves, eating crab legs, people watching, and ice-cold Coronas.  Everything reminded us of you and everything was bittersweet because of it.  Everything has been tainted because of the loss of you.  But is it better to go and do it anyways, hurt, and miss you more than normal or is it better to forego those traditions and pretend they ever happened?

Today I finished another semester.  Another brutal semester of pretending I have the focus and motivation to stay in school without you in my corner.  A terrible summer of being in school full-time and doing what needs to be done.  It’s over and its behind me, but there is no joy in it.  There is no sense of completion.  No feeling of victory for making it through.  It just is.  All day I dreaded coming home even more than normal.  I dreaded coming home so badly that I probably bombed my final because I couldn’t concentrate.  I dreaded it because of our tradition, mostly your tradition, of what we would do to celebrate finishing another semester.  The drinks, the meal you would cook, the ridiculousness that was us.  I miss it.  I miss you and it hurts.  It is beyond lonely and brutal, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  So is it better to remember those traditions with a smile on my face or is it better to try and pretend they never happened to lessen the pain of it all?

On Saturday I am headed to Canada to spend a week or so with my family and friends between semesters.  Even this has lost its excitement and its joy which is sad because this is where I came from and where I should want to be.  But now even trips, vacations, and visits to Canada have been tarnished with your loss.  It has become a tradition in its own way and now I can’t bear the thought of doing it alone.  Of course I’m looking forward to seeing everyone but it just isn’t the same.  I know my family is suffering too because even they have become accustomed to you being there.  Everyone has grown used to it.  It just isn’t home without you regardless of what country it is.  I know my friends are suffering because they grew to love your visits almost as much as I did.  They are grieving too and it is just isn’t the same.  Zach, now all I have are the memories of sharing Canada with you, watching your first impressions, experiencing my home country for the first time all over again as I shared it with you.  You made Canada an entirely different experience for me and now I don’t know how to do it alone.  This is just another thing I am going to have to learn to do alone and I mostly want to stamp my foot on the ground a-la-five-year-old styles and refuse to do it.  I want to cross my arms, stick out my bottom lip, and just firmly state that I’m not doing it.  Obviously I can’t but I really wish I could.  So I have to wonder if it is better to remember what we shared and what you brought to the Canadian experience or to try to forget in order to make it easier for myself?

Everything I read about traditions and grief says that everyone has to make that decision for themselves.  There are no rules with grieving.  There is no right or wrong way.  I just don’t know what is right for me, for my family, for your family.  These questions keep repeating themselves but it doesn’t mean it is making an answer become any more clear.  I guess you have to decide what is less painful for yourself and for your family, but if it’s all painful then what do you do?  Do you continue the traditions or do you let them go?  Do you forget them so that when these moments come up it isn’t as excruciating or do you try to incorporate them into this new and painful life?  I just don’t know.  But I find myself questioning if traditions are just another way to delude ourselves into thinking life has the slightest chance of staying the way it was.  If we continue to honor or celebrate traditions the way we did together then that is giving myself a false sense of permanence that does not exist.  That is all gone.  It was stolen from me and I will never get it back.  So is keeping up with these kinds of traditions a delusional way to maintain that sense of permanency in order to make this pain of grieving fractionally less?

I’m afraid when it comes to traditions there is no right or wrong answer.  I’m afraid when it comes to traditions that I will spend forever trying to figure out if it is more painful to do it or to forget it.

The First Big Decision

“If you have to take time to make a choice, take time.  Then make the choice.”
~~ Dr. Shad Helmstetter

Zach,

Well I think I have accomplished something.  A decision.  One decision among months of grieving, torture, sadness, and utter loneliness.  Seems like such an insignificant thing and to anyone reading this who hasn’t experienced this type of loss or tragedy just won’t get it.  Those who have been in my shoes will fully understand.  Decisions while in a partnership are much easier.  You have someone to discuss it at great lengths with, someone to help you fully understand the outcome of the decisions, someone to stand by your side and tell you it is the right decision.  I don’t have that now.  Decisions at this time are excruciating.  Life is so unbalanced, unfocused, and painful that anything to alter that seems unfeasible but I think I have done it.  I think I have but god I wish you were here to tell me it is the right thing, right move, right choice.  I am lost trying to figure out how to do it without you.

Everything I have read, all those “helpful” books that tell you how to cope while grieving, tell you not to make any major decisions before a year has passed.  But when somethings are put in front of you, you just have to act.  Eventually, even through the haze of grief, you realize it is your moment to act.  I have had that moment.  I think it is what you would want me to do.  I believe it is. Or at least I think I do.  There is only so much time you can spend weighing the pro’s and con’s, contemplating, debating, pondering, and waiting.  But you constantly second guess if it is the moment or the right time.  That’s where I am right now.  Stuck in an argument with myself if it is the right choice.  You would make it so easy for me, Zach.  You would tell me beyond a shadow of a doubt if this is the path I am supposed to take, the life altering decision I should make.  Without you I am lost.  Those already tough decisions become impassable vortexes that seem impossible to cross.  I’m not sure how to do it alone.  All I can do is think of what you would tell me, what you would want me to do, how you think I should respond.

The degree I had initially began working on once finally back in school after so many years was one we both agreed was the best choice.  The seemingly best option for what we wanted to do later on in life.  The beauty of the core curriculum all universities require of their students is that it really does give you time to think and for that I am utterly grateful.  You have the opportunity to delve into other topics, consider other fields, and truly contemplate what you actually want to do once you graduate.  Before all this happened, months before October 9th 2012 brutally changed my life, you and I had been discussing this choice.  But it was merely an idea, an alternative, and something we planned on deliberating over and discussing further.  It is such a different reality when your life partner is brutally stolen from you.  It is drastically different to think about these life-changing decisions alone.  Thinking about doing it alone, acting on it alone, following through on it alone.  There is nothing in the world that can truly prepare you for that.

Since all this has happened I have been considering this change even more in-depth than when we first began to discuss it.  The path I feel called to seems more applicable, more realistic, and more beneficial to myself and to those around me.  It is a lot to consider but approaching it slowly is the only way to do it.  It is impossible to think with a rational mind while grieving or to even know which way is up.  I guess that is why they tell you to make no major decisions within the first year.  And I understand why.  I meant to do that.  I have strictly not allowed myself to jump to any conclusions or make any life-changing decisions because I know my head is not in the right place.  But today a “make it or break it” moment happened and it prompted me to act.  I’m scared.  I’m scared it won’t ultimately be the right choice, won’t be what you want for me, won’t be something I can follow through on.

Today I began the paperwork with my university to change my declared major.  Wow.  Seems like such a stupidly insignificant thing to say.  But Zach, you know that’s just not true.  Changing my declared major changes my course load, the future of my undergraduate degree, the plan to begin my Master’s eventually, and ultimately alters my life course.  Its big.  I don’t care what anyone else may think about it.  Zach, you know me better than I know myself.  You would know I have not approached this lightly nor is it a tiny decision.  Its big.  This changes my education for the next two+ years and my plans for future schooling.  Its big.

But I feel like it is the right thing to do.  While reviewing my courseload for the Fall semester, which will begin in August and which I registered for back in April, I realized that one course in particular was completely unappealing to me and would require five textbooks.  Yes, it would translate over to the other degree I had considered as a free elective so it was not an issue of lost credit hours or pointless spending of money when an international student already pays exorbitant amounts.  But when there are so many other courses I could take that would be so much more enjoyable and would cost less money in books alone, I feel like the choice was staring me right in the face.  Shifting focus to a new degree meant small changes in my Fall classes but once I researched it, it didn’t seem as terribly impossible as I imagined.  So here was the choice.  Switch degrees now, much earlier than I had originally planned on making my final decision, or spend the Fall semester taking a ludicrous class that would be of no benefit to me.  Grief does make decisions impossible but once in a while you are able to grasp on to a moment of utter clarity and I think you have to run with it.  And that’s what I did.  The time for weighing my options, contemplating the outcome, and not allowing myself to make any huge decisions momentarily passed.  I think it was right.  I hope it was.

Zach, I fear I sound whiny while writing this but you know me.  You know how long I had wanted to switch degrees.  But you also know I was not totally sure what I wanted to switch to.  Through all this a path has presented itself to me and it is one I have spent countless hours pondering over, researching, and seriously considering.  So here I am.  I have made a decision.  The paperwork is filled out, I’ve gotten the necessary signatures from department heads, and it is ready to be submitted to the university.  All that is left is reaching that 100% certainty and submitting it for final approval.

I am terrified and I never imagined having to do this alone.