Light and Dark Moments in Grief

Dabany Garris posing outside of the Wellness Center.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @rowanuwellness on social. 

This story is by Dabany Garris, senior psychology major with a concentration in child behavioral services.

This is something you can not fully understand unless you experience it. The anger, disbelief, and intense sadness takes over your whole body in more ways than one. Everything is out of your control. Grief is a very individualized experience that is not a linear path and has no fixed timeline. In an article called The Stages of Grief and What to Expect, it refers to the Kübler-Ross which explains the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is important to note that not everyone goes through every stage, nor is there a particular order.

I am here to tell you that adopting healthy coping skills when dealing with grief is crucial for emotional well-being. Doing so can help manage emotions, prevent negative coping mechanisms, and promote long-term resilience.

Student Dabany Garris sitting on the steps in front of Discovery Hall. She can be seen in a tan jacket and green cargo pants.

On October 10, 2021 I experienced what losing someone close felt like, for the first time. My grandmother was like my best friend and she understood me.

Three months later on January 22, 2022, I experienced the second one. It wasn’t even before the blink of an eye that I could even register the first one before the second wave came.

I learned that I needed support the hard way when my grades were being affected, I didn’t find joy in the things I loved to do, and I went so far as trying to switch my major. With my lack of motivation, my work ethic and effort decreased drastically. On October 11, 2021 I took a midterm and failed it like never before and although I knew I was not mentally present enough to sit for an exam or complete assignments, I still did because I did not want people around me to know I was drowning. On January 23, 2022 I hit a breaking point that I never thought I’d come in contact with or think my mom would see me in such a rare form. The look of curiosity and worry on her face, the exhaustion from crying months of tears, it opened my eyes to acknowledge that I needed to allow my community to support me. This time around, I informed my teachers of my situation and allowed my family to see me in such a vulnerable light that I had once been scared of them to see. 

Grief looks completely different for everyone and different coping skills work for everyone as well. In the time that you wouldn’t want to be rethink, allowing the people you trust to be there and support you. I didn’t realize how much speaking up helped me and the difference it made within my grieving process.

Like what you see?


Written by: Dabany Garris

Edited by: Jordyn Dauter, junior double major in dance & elementary education