Coping with tragedy in our own ways

Everyone keeps asking me to say something about Justin Carr ’14’s death, but, in all honesty, I’ve been trying to forget about it. It’s surprisingly easy to do when, like me, one is thousands of miles away in a country, China where I have been spending my junior year with the high school foreign exchange program School Year Abroad, where no one else is affected by what has occurred.

Last night on Skype, my mom asked me how the weeks since Carr’s death have been for me, and it hurt me to say that they’ve been going very well. I often feel as though I have a responsibility to feel terribly if only because everyone else is, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel anything close to the pain that the people back in Los Angeles are suffering through right now or at least not until I go back to America.

Carr’s death has actually made me dread my homecoming day, which is soon arriving. I always hear talk about how going back will be a big disappointment because I’ll be bored by how the same everything is, but I would much rather return to America bored by its lack of change than stressed by big alterations to the life I knew.

Already, I am beginning to feel some of this stress as friends, family, and other people I know reach out to me full of emotion and yearn to hear my own feelings of hurt in a desperate attempt to ease their pain. The problem is that I can’t help them. It is difficult for me to give solace to a person whose suffering I do not share. Most often these conversations only result in me offending someone and, then, going away feeling like a bad person for not being able to give them what they wanted.

I don’t think it’s fair for me to have to feel this way. I should not be held responsible for how I feel, and I definitely am not responsible for the feelings of others.

We each deal with death in our own way, and, at the moment, I am dealing with it by not thinking about it. Perhaps, that is not the best approach, but it is how I am managing to work through a devastating loss while not drowning the rest of my abroad experience in tears.

If anyone thinks that I do not care that Carr is dead, they have misunderstood me. It is not that I don’t care for Carr or his family. I just don’t care to think about it until May 30, the day I come back, when I’ll have no choice but to do otherwise. I’m not looking forward to it.

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