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Student Stories

Getting Back to School After Experiencing Loss

February 23rd, 2022
Student smiling on their graduation day

The loss of a parent is one of the most devastating forms of a loss a young person can experience. It is even more pronounced when that parent is the only one a child has to look after them. 

Bella is 20 and just graduated from high school through the Grad Solutions high school dropout recovery program. She was originally in the graduating class of 2020 but life happened and things didn’t exactly go as planned. 

Coping with Loss

Bella’s mom passed away from cancer in 2013, when she was 12 years old. Understandably, coping with the loss was a challenge. She wasn’t motivated in school before her mom passed away and was even less motivated afterward. She started to feel that an education wasn’t necessary and eventually dropped out.  

Pink and purple roses in a vase, on a table

The break from school gave Bella time to grieve. As difficult as it was, Bella knew she needed to put in the effort to finish school. Thankfully, she was surrounded by people who supported her and encouraged her with phrases like, “There’s always tomorrow, everything happens for a reason,” and “Life will keep on moving.” These words of encouragement guided her to a better path. Even when she didn’t feel like moving, those around her pushed her to continue on with school and life.

Unexpected Motivation to Get Back to School

She listened to the encouraging words of those around her, but it was difficult. She had to put in extra effort to continue on, despite the pain she was feeling. Her internal motivation started to surface while the jealousy of her graduating class kept her going. 

Together, these factors kept her motivated to finish school. It was like building momentum. The more she worked toward her diploma, the easier it got. 

Overcoming Challenges

Even without losing a parent, teenagers experience a lot. Teenage life can be an emotional roller coaster and finding peace is difficult. Bella acknowledges that finishing up high school can be a challenge even when things are “going right”. She says that prioritizing physical and mental self-care are part of what helped her to reach her goals. 


Bella proudly spoke about her experience at the Grad Solutions Graduation Ceremony on July 29, 2022. It was an inspiring moment as the audience listened to Bella tell her story of overcoming the pain of losing her single mother. She has gone through an incredibly difficult phase in life but is making it through, stronger than before.

Graduate speaking at a podium, on stage at their graduation

Now that she has graduated from high school, Bella feels empowered to reach her goals. Her mom would have wanted that. She appreciates those who helped her along the way: Elena and Denise, Aaron, Mick and Corey. Most of all, she is thankful for her mother Carol, who gave her the strength and courage to fight through her pain. 

Congratulations Bella, we are so proud of you!

—From everyone on the Grad Solutions team! 

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