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The Power of Losing a Role Model

BY MAGGIE QUENNELL

As kids, we always have these great big ideas of what we want to be when we grow up, and through those ideas, we find role models for ourselves. The spectrum of these role models ranges from television characters, professional athletes to an older brother or sister. As we get older the role models change, as we mature our choice in inspiration may change from Miley Cyrus to Michelle Obama. Different times call for different inspiration. Since I can remember my Aunt has been the sole role model in my life, the way she carried herself internally and externally is something I strive for constantly. To say she was an extraordinary woman would be the understatement of a lifetime, as I am sure most people feel about their role model. In the middle of my third year, she unexpectedly lost her battle with cancer. A shock to my entire family, that the strongest woman we knew was suddenly gone.

The immediate weeks I was in a constant “mood” as I would call it so that my friends wouldn’t think that this person was who I really was. To be honest, it was a person in a state of shock searching for the new normal, I was sad, stressed and lost. I would constantly think how am I going to make it through the day, then it would move to month and semester. I had never experienced death like this one, not only was she apart of my family but my role model. This was the hardest part for me in all honesty. I lost apart of myself when I lost her, the way I portrayed myself was to be like her, the way I dressed was based on her, when she was gone it was like I had no one to make me attempt to be a better person.

As the weeks go on I am slowly able to find myself again. Still, in shock with grief, I have the occasional break down in a parking lot or at a family event or when I see other family members in need of her. This is a feeling that unfortunately, we will all have to go through at some point in our life. I was not prepared for it and I don’t think anyone ever is.

The loss of a role model, whether it be through death or through loss of the connection it is a part of life that forces you as an individual to re-evaluate yourself. Will you crumble and be unrecognizable to yourself? Or will you rise and attempt to be a role model to others? I definitely crumbled.

It is okay to crumble, it is okay to feel lost when you lose a role model. It is not necessary to stay strong the entire time, you have to let yourself mourn. That person will always continue to be a role model in your life, their memory is something you can strive to live up to and continue to make them proud.

The loss of someone important is an awful experience that everyone will go through, people will act differently and there is no right answer to the steps of grief. It is something that most students ignore but will go through. It is okay to be sad, it is okay to be happy, it is okay to laugh, there is no right way to deal with the loss of an important person. It is essential to know that there are people who are experiencing the same things and that you are not alone. Lean on your friends, they want to be there for you and help in any way they can. If it weren’t for my friends helping with my “mood” and the constant laughter they created for me at a time of pain I don’t know where I would be. It is a slow process, and there is regression, but one day you will look back and know that this was a time in your life where you overcame the worst of the worst to become the person you are today.

Maggie Quennell fourth-year English student and a guest contributor to MUSE Online.
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