Tuscarawas County mom opens up about the impact of COVID-19 on her high school senior

(Gnadenhutten, Ohio) – “He had qualified for state in wrestling and when it was canceled, it was like a punch in the gut.”

Betty Quillen is mom to a high school senior at Indian Valley High School. She explained the heartbreak her son, Owen, and their whole family felt as the state began to shut down as a result of COVID-19. “Daily, we were watching updates in small hopes things would get better and it (her son’s state wrestling match) would be rescheduled. When it wasn’t, he was devastated.”

Then, reality sunk in and she had to tell Owen his graduation part would have to be rescheduled. “His face just drained,” she explained. “It was heartbreaking. It makes me feel sad, angry, frustrated, and helpless. When our kids hurt, it’s our natural instinct to want to fix it. We can’t fix this. We can’t stop this snowball of cancellations and disappointments for them.”

Betty noted she understands the reasons and understands that lives are being affected in other ways. But, she’s working to try and also understand how her 18-year-old is feeling as his senior year is ripped away from him.  “I have to try to think like an 18-year-old. I don’t know that as an 18-year-old kid, I would have been able to make sense of any of this. Their losses are real. They hurt. The rights of passage that they’ve seen others enjoy and were looking forward to having been halted. The seriousness of the virus doesn’t negate the seriousness of their emotions.”

We hear over and over how we are all in this together and we’re learning as we go. And that stands true. Betty explained that her best advice to high school seniors impacted by COVID-19 related closures is to talk to their parents, as much as they may want to roll their eyes at the idea.

“As much as you hate this, we hate it for you. We will stand beside you. Acknowledge what’s in front of you, the emotions attached to it but also visualize where you will be 5 years from now. Use this time of stillness to create crazy, wild dreams for yourself…In disappointment, there are lessons to be learned. In the moment, they can be hard to see, but they are there. You will rise up stronger and wiser! You are being asked to move forward without closure, but you don’t have to do it alone!”

And she noted it’s important that they hear the words from us, “You can change the world. We believe you can! Decide how you’re going to do it!! We support your wild dreams!!”

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