I Thought I'd Processed My Best Friend's Death — Until I Took A TikTok Quiz

All that emotion was stuck inside of me for years.

Woman overwhelmed with feelings of unexpected grief after years Karolina Grabowska | Canva

I was innocently sitting outside with my cat, enjoying the sun and the sound of the jacuzzi waterfall. I was reading my texts. One of my Gen-Z relatives sent me a silly TikTok quiz that said I would recognize several devices if I were old enough. I'm getting older every day, so I played along.

About halfway through the quiz, something unexpected happened to me — I felt a physical reaction. My stomach squeezed, and I felt a burning in my chest like gentle heartburn. Sadness overcame me, and I cried. Big tears were rolling out of my eyes. My mind told me why. 


The last time I took one of these tests was four years ago when my friend Jaclie sent it to me.

Jaclie, whom I had known since middle school, used to send me all these silly tests. She loved the “How Do You Know He Loves You?” type quizzes that came out in many forms in Cosmopolitan. We started taking these tests when we were teenagers. Back then, we took the quiz scores seriously, taking them one after another, month after month.

I don’t know how many times we sat in one of our houses giggling at the stories in Cosmo and dreaming of our true loves. We would ponder the questions and the scoreboard of answers — sometimes going back to change an answer to get the score we wanted.


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Fitness Magazine’s “Are You Running Too Many Miles A Day?” fitness quizzes were another favorite she would send me to get my answers. This would start us talking about our successes or failures in exercise or any physical activity. Both of us were non-athletic nerds. That did not stop us from answering these quizzes that were aimed at more athletic people.

The other thing we loved was the crazy quizzes in the National Enquirer: “Do You Believe In Alien Life?” or “How Many Of Michael Jackson Songs Can You Name?" amused us. We took those quizzes with gusto, laughing at ourselves the entire time.

Once we were married with busy families, Jaclie still made time to send me irreverent quizzes and lists. 


Often, we wouldn't have the time to get together to discuss the quiz, but we knew the other person had received it and read it because we shared our scores. Knowing your friend was doing the same things let us stay connected without verbal communication.

Later, with smartphones, she would text quizzes from social media instead of magazines. I would read them, take them, and return my score. She would do the same, and we would converse over iMessage, comparing — a pleasure we both enjoyed.

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Jaclie died during the worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a devastating time when so many were dying from the disease that we did not get to say goodbye in any way. No funeral, no memorial, no remembrance. She was here, and then she was gone.


I did not know she died until I reached out to her sister because I hadn't heard from her in a couple of months. By then, even the tiny family Zoom meeting had occurred, so nothing was left but the thought of her leaving.

Grief is a strange animal. The powerful feelings I felt that morning when I took the old person test were unexpected. I never grieved for my friend. I accepted that she was gone during the pandemic, and I thought I had moved on. But it turns out I hadn't — all that emotion was stuck inside of me for four years.

I lay down on the bed and let myself feel the fact that I missed my friend, one who I had grown up with and that I never got to say goodbye or honor her as a person whom I had known for over four decades. She was a consistently positive force in my life.


Later, I told my husband about my grief. I still felt despondent. He agreed with me that several people died during COVID we didn't properly grieve. He made suggestions to help me overcome my lingering sadness about Jaclie.

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What can you do about unexpected grief?

First, I needed to acknowledge my feelings. It had been a long time, but the power of her death had me in its grip. My spouse thought seeking support from others was important. I also called my sister to talk about our adventures in girlhood with Jaclie, which helped me gain some perspective.


Expressing myself by letting the tears I never cried out was crucial for pulling myself back together.

Taking care of myself allowed me to move past the emotions that had a hold of me and to think about what I wanted to do for Jaclie. I did a bit of self-care, getting into the jacuzzi and scheduling a massage to help with the tension I felt.

The next day, we took a moment to remember Jaclie. We found her obituary. As she had been cremated, there was nowhere to send flowers, so I got an arrangement of the flowers I knew she loved, red and white roses, for my home. We decided not to call Jaclie’s family so we would not cause her relatives the pain of her loss again.


I can’t say I felt better; better is not the right word, but I felt I had bandaged a wound in my heart, a wound that is still there. Grief is an emotion that will never fully resolve, but it can be managed if we look it dead in the eyes and address it.

Remember: healing from grief is a journey, and it’s okay to take as much time as needed. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to honor your emotions as you move forward. Expect to be returned to a moment of sorrow or joy; it's just part of life.

“You don’t go around grieving all the time, but the grief is still there and always will be” — Nigella Lawson

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Toni Crowe retired from corporate America to follow her writing passion. She shares her hard-won life lessons in her writing, with six books written including two best sellers.