“I am grateful for my grief”

Gillian Doherty is a member of the Washington-Liberty senior class. She plans to study computer science at university. The following is from a speech she gave at a school assembly following the recent deaths of fellow WL fellow Braylon Mead and Yorktown graduate Alexander Gill.


WL senior Gillian Doherty (photo courtesy)

I would like to dedicate this speech to Braylon and Alexander Gill, two wonderful people who will always be in our hearts.

I used to think that gratitude only applies to the positive aspects of life. I’ve always been grateful for things like my education, my opportunities, my friends and family, the resources I have access to, the food on my table, and more. And not that I’m still incredibly grateful for all of those things, but I have a very different idea of ​​what gratitude is now.

It can be difficult to be thankful in times of grief. That’s not bad at all. It took me some time to realize that whatever I or anyone else is feeling is perfectly valid, whatever that may be. I’m not sure how to be positive and think about how lucky I am in the midst of this whole tragedy.

But I don’t have to think about that. There are other things to be thankful for right now. I am grateful for my sorrow. I am thankful for my sadness. I am thankful for my pain. I am thankful for my anger.

I’m grateful for every emotion I’m feeling right now and I hope you all are too.

These thoughts and feelings remind me that what I lost is very important to me, otherwise I wouldn’t feel what I am now.

A few days before Braylon died, my uncle also died of a heart attack. Of course, the past few weeks have been really challenging as each day brought new sadness. But as I allowed myself to feel more and more of my grief, I realized how much I cherished the time I was having with both people.

With my uncle we shared a lot of beautiful memories about holidays and vacations with our whole family.

With Braylon, we’ve shared many courses and projects, as well as random moments like crossing paths and entering the speech contest together.

Many of us experience immense sadness and pain, and it’s hard to find comfort and any kind of happiness. But I hope that as we continue to process our grief, many of us will take a moment to be grateful for the time we’ve had with the people we love.

I hope we can all be thankful for our shared pain as a reminder that the people we’ve lost not only changed our lives for the better, but also always with us with stories, tears, laughter, pain and memories will be . Those we’ve lost never really leave us, and all we can do is stick together, support one another, and love one another.

Whether you knew Braylon and AG or not, I hope you all take the time to tell your family and friends that you love them. We all need to be thankful for the people we have lost and also for the many people we still have with us.

Every day we have with our loved ones is a gift that should be cherished.