Dear almost-graduate living in the time of COVID-19,

I completely understand that it probably feels like your life has been ripped from you right now.

I want you to know that you are allowed to feel exactly what you are feeling.

I know you are working hard to manage the stress of school and your mental health, and it can be easy to push your feelings aside for the assignments that need to be completed, the friends who are seemingly struggling “more,” and every aspect of your new normal that you find yourself dodging and barely managing.

Please, afford yourself the time and space to grieve.

You are allowed to be in pain.

You have worked so hard for years to get to this place in your academic career. Not getting to graduate in the way you thought you would because of something as traumatic as a world-wide shutdown hurts.

Let it hurt.

The emotions weighing on you need, and deserve, to be processed and find release.

The weight of what is going on in the world is a lot to process on its own. Now, on top of that, you are processing that you won’t get to experience your “lasts” with the people you have gone to school with for years.

You are processing the fact that you won’t get to graduate in the environment you have probably envisioned throughout your entire life.

You are coping with the fact that your social life is different now.

And with the demands of schoolwork still persisting despite the fact that you aren’t in the classroom, you are managing the constant reminders of these losses.

Processing these things is significant, and valid. Take as much time as you need. The world will wait.

There doesn’t always need to be an immediate silver lining; sometimes pain just needs space to be felt.

So in case no one tells you this: I am sorry.

I am sorry your school career is ending in a worldwide pandemic, and I honor your pain.

I am sorry you may not be able to walk across that stage with your closest friends.

I am sorry for whatever emotional impact you feel in response to this pandemic.

You are allowed to grieve.

You are allowed to feel.

You are stronger than you know.