Amelia Anglin: A Death in the Family

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For young people who have never experienced a close death, just how to react can be confusing. Amelia Anglin has this Perspective on how she learned to cope.

It was the beginning of second grade when my parents started acting weird. I never knew how sick my aunt was. I didn’t know she was sick at all. We hadn’t driven down south to visit her in what felt like forever. But my seven-year-old self didn’t have any reason to believe it was because my aunt was dying of colon cancer. Dying. Death. What really happens when we die? Where do we go?

On a Saturday afternoon in November, just days away from Thanksgiving, my parents told my older siblings and me that our aunt had died of stage 4 colon cancer.

She was gone. From that moment I would never see her smile or hear her laugh. I would never complete puzzles with her on the kitchen table while on family vacations or feel her warm embrace after a month of not seeing each other. I would never sing songs with her while on ski lifts in Tahoe or run my fingers through her ringlet curls. I felt a sense of guilt. Guilt for crying into my pillows when I had ‘only’ lost my aunt. What about my cousins? The two people in the family we were so close to. They had lost their mother.

I remember not knowing what the concept of death meant. I didn’t know how a loss felt. I had lost my grandfather before, but that was five years prior when I was only two. Losing someone is one of those things where you don't know how bad it feels until it happens to you. You hear it all the time in the news, “56-year-old found dead…” or “This famous so-and-so has passed!" One feels sorrow for the individuals close to them, but not much else.

It's now been six years since we lost her. I have learned a lot about myself since then. I have learned that it's okay to be depressed over something, especially a loss, even if you weren't in their direct family. That you should feel allowed to be sad without the guilt. I've learned that even though death is a scary thing, and we don't really know what happens, it’s a part of life. Death can be peaceful.

I’ve realized that my aunt lived a beautiful life even though it was cut short. Somehow, her passing left our families even closer. Finally, I have learned to love my new family and accept this loss, remember her always, and be grateful for every moment spent with family members. We never know when the last moments are occurring.

With a Perspective, I am Amelia Anglin.

Amelia Anglin is an eighth-grader at Kent Middle School in Kentfield.