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Losing Someone You Don't Know

It's a weird thing to deal with.

[Photo: 0525_AFS]

When I was five years old, I lost my father to several types of cancer. Of course, I knew him, but I didn't really know him. For the last seventeen years, I have dealt with that loss of someone I didn't know. My sisters, my mom, they dealt with the loss of a father and a husband, and there's no way that I can understand the pain that they are suffering, just like they can't understand mine. It's a weird thing losing someone you don't know.

December 18th marks the one year death of someone I admired, someone who brought light to me and many others, someone I didn't know. It was a kind of grief I have never experienced before, not with my dad, not with my grandparents, who had passed away when I was young. On December 18th, 2017, Kim Jonghyun, a Korean singer from the group SHINee passed away.

Yes, the death of a celebrity is far different than the death of a family member, but is it actually, when you knew neither of them?

I could say this is a how-to, or a ten-step guide, or anything along those lines, but the truth is, I haven't learned to cope with this kind of loss either. How do you grieve for someone you never knew? How do you help yourself get over someone that you could never tell what the mean to you?

I learned that people don't understand grieving for someone you don't know. I learned that people judge you, whether it be silently or vocally. How could someone have an emotional connection to a person they have only ever seen through a screen? That they have only ever seen in the past tense. I wish I knew a way I could explain to them that this is the most real grief I have ever experienced in my life, that this is what I know and that it's real despite them not understanding. Sometimes people are just too thick to understand.

I spent over a week last year crying in my bed, unable to move because I had never experienced the death of someone I had memories of. I didn't eat or drink. I laid under covers and blamed myself, blamed a country, a company, a doctor, a thousand doctors, myself again. I wished that it were me instead of him because he had so much to give and I have nothing for anyone. I whispered I'm sorry hundreds of times, begging for it to be fake, for it to be a dream.

I have woken up every day for three hundred and sixty-five days to remember that it was not a dream, that it was real and I am still grieving.

Learning to live with pain like that is hard, and I don't know if I will ever fully be able to do it. I know that I miss him, I know that even when his most cheerful song comes on, my heart still hurts because I won't hear anything new from him again. I know that he's happier, that he's no longer hurting.

I had to learn on my own that it is okay to be sad, but it's not okay to live in your sadness. It is okay to miss someone you have lost, even if it is someone you don't know, but don't always think about the bad that you remember.

I'm still figuring it out, I'm still grieving for not only Jonghyun, but for my father as well. Maybe dealing with these things gets better with age, maybe not. I guess only time will tell.

I will never be angry at Jonghyun, because there is no reason to be mad at him. I will have anger though, anger at the professionals that were supposed to help him, but didn't. Anger because he deserved better.

You did well, you worked hard. I am so proud of you.

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