Seasons of Life
In 2014, while Ariel Szuch (BA ’15) was serving an LDS mission in Rochester, New York, her mission president informed her that her mother had just passed away. Szuch was shocked and devastated: “I don’t think anyone, regardless of how old they are, expects to lose their mother . . . I felt like [her death] blew a big hole in the center of my family’s life.” Despite her heartache, Szuch thought, “This is temporary. [Her death] is only for a short time, and everything will be okay.” She chose to remain on a mission.
As Szuch grieved, she turned to writing to make sense of her experience. In an article written for LDS.org, Spring Will Come, Szuch reflects on the months immediately following her mother’s death.
“On the afternoon of my mother’s funeral, I walked with my companion in the Sacred Grove. Snow covered the ground and crunched beneath our feet; everything was shades of white and brown and gray. Looking around in light of what had happened, it was hard to remember what spring felt like. The cold wind shook bare branches. My heart ached. Like the outside world, this season in my life felt like winter.
. . . Ever so slowly, the season began to change, and with it, my heart began to heal. . . Walking through the grove I could see that, where once all seemed cold and lifeless, plant shoots were coming up through the dead leaves and the little green buds were appearing on the trees. The world was coming to life again. And I was reminded that no matter how dark and cold the winters of our lives, spring always comes.”
Szuch currently writes for the Church’s blog and social media sites, and she occasionally posts to her blog, Unfinished Glory. “Writing [has become] an outlet,” Szuch explains. “Trying to wrap words around concepts that are difficult to express is a really good processing exercise.” While at BYU Szuch took a class taught by Gideon Burton of the English Department and Dr. Daniel Zappala of the Computer Science Department. The class, Visual Focalization, “. . . shifted my way of thinking,” explains Szuch. “I realized that I wanted . . . my effort to go towards things that have immediate impact and lasting influence.”
Szuch has continued to process the death of her mother and life as a young single adult. Through her writing she has managed to inspire others while expressing her grief and frustrations.
Although Szuch writes frequently for the Church, she published her first highly popular article, “This Is Why I'm Single,” on her personal blog. The article tells about being a young single adult in the LDS church. She says, “. . . A lot of the conversation about being single, especially in Mormon culture, has a really negative tone, and that didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t feel that being single was a curse or a kind of temporary trial you had to get through. [Singlehood] does include trials, just like any other season in life, but it is a season of life and as such it has good things and bad things.”
One of benefits of being single, Szuch recognizes, is that “I [had] the emotional bandwidth to figure out who I am and what I want.” In addition, she had the independence to take spontaneous trips, explore and “. . . rejoice in the process of discovery.” In another change of season, Szuch has gotten married, as has her father, making her one of 16 total children. As she reflects on her life, Szuch says, “. . . It’s so sweet to look back . . . and see how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learned about myself. The opportunities and the people that were placed in my way . . . are truly beautiful.”
-Madeline Buhman ('18)