An Interview About Death
By Matthew Peinado
There are few experiences more tragic than the sudden loss of a loved one. The following is the transcript of an interview with Walla Walla University student Jayme Brown who lost someone close to her about a year ago. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity.
Q: Could you introduce yourself?
Brown: My name is Jayme Brown. I am a freshman nursing major.
Q: Jayme, who did you lose?
Brown: Well, I called him my grandpa, but he wasn’t really. He was a close family friend who was a bit older. When my family moved to Oregon, he and his wife were a huge support to us. They allowed us to live in their RV when we didn’t have a home, helped us financially while my parents were still getting on their feet, and was a mentor to me for most of my life. He died a little less than a year ago.
Q: So the two of you were really close?
Brown: We were, I knew him since I was 10 years old. Even though we weren’t related by blood, he was closer than a lot of family. We’d go over to his house all the time when I was younger. He took care of us in so many ways.
Q: How did you learn he had passed?
Brown: About two years ago he and his wife moved out of the town we lived in. Our family helped them move into this beautiful house, it was supposed to be their retirement home. Then last year my dad got a phone call that he had passed away.
Q: How did you react to learning of his death?
Brown: I was angry. I never got to say goodbye. He passed away so suddenly. I was stagnant in my anger for a long time. It seemed so unfair that someone who had been that loving and caring to my family was taken so suddenly. There was a huge battle I had with “why?” He wasn’t terribly old, he was fairly healthy, he was even pretty active. I tried to act like the whole situation didn’t bother me. I felt like I didn’t have a right to grieve when my dad was so much closer to him than I was. I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t that close to him, that it wasn’t a big deal.
Q: What happened after that?
Brown: I don’t think I ever gave myself the room to grieve. At this point, I had processed what happened. There wasn’t really a moment of acceptance. It just took time and space to become OK with what happened. Something that did help me process what happened was when our family moved his wife back to the town we lived in together; seeing her be OK and helping her make a home and giving back to his wife what I couldn’t give back to him.
Q: What was the hardest part of the grieving process that you didn’t expect?
Brown: I guess just accepting the fact that it happened and recognizing that he was gone. He was such a consistent person in my life for so long and the suddenness of his death was so hard to process.
Q: Is there anything you do today to honor his life?
Brown: The only thing I can think of in particular is something my dad has. The last time he and my grandpa drank together, there were two Bud Lights left over. My dad keeps them up on a shelf in memory of him.
Q: What would you say to those who are just entering the grieving process.
Brown: You have a right to feel however you want when you experience loss. I think something that lengthened the grieving process was the idea that I didn’t have a right to feel sad. Just accepting the way you feel and finding ways to process those feelings can make the experience easier. 
- Interview with Jayme rown, 12/01/21.
My name is Matthew Peinado. I’m from Portland Oregon and graduated from Portland Adventist Academy. I am an advocate for social and economic justice for all people and I hope that comes through in my writing. I am currently majoring in strategic communications and psychology with the hopes of going to law school after graduation. If any of you feel that you have a story The Collegian needs to share, don’t hesitate to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my personal number, (360) 869-3431.