Student’s family tragedy eased with time and support

March 16, 2010 — by Lauren Kuan

Summer was coming to an end in 2007, and junior Eric Chuang was at home playing video games when he suddenly heard his mom screaming for his dad. Soon after, he was stunned to hear his older sister Karen had been mugged, shot and killed by an assailant in San Diego.

His sister was 27 at the time of her death. Her killer was never caught.

Eric was about to enter into eighth grade at Redwood Middle School. Karen’s tragic death was devastating because in many ways he considered his sister to be his second mother.

“Since our parents were always working, she would always be the one to take care of me and also take me to school, feed me, buy me presents, take me shopping and those kinds of things things,” said Chuang.

Whenever his sister, a 1999 SHS alumna, had plans with her friends, she would always take him along—so much so that he practically grew up with her friends. Not only did his sister allow him to tag along, but she also always found herself talking about her brother.

“I couldn’t ever understand how or why she could love me so much since no big sister is ever that good to their little brother. It was as if she saw me as a son; I was practically closer to her than anyone else in my family,” said Chuang.

Although Chuang says he has overcome the shock and grief of the loss, he at first coped with it in an unhealthy way by bottling up all his feelings.

“I saw my family completely torn apart and broken down so I told myself to be the one to hold everyone up, but really I was just throwing the weight of the world on myself,” said Chuang.

His biggest support system was his friends, who were there to give him hugs and shoulders to cry on.

“I used to put my feelings off as though I was OK, so when I finally came out showing the true pain inside, I guess that’s when I started healing, and my friends were a big part of that as they always made sure that I was feeling fine day after day,” said Chuang.

Chuang has also learned not to mourn when such a tragedy occurs, but to celebrate all of the accomplishments that person has achieved in life.

“I learned that death is never the end of a loved one because they always live in pictures, gifts and memories; and you should always appreciate it. That means not bringing pain upon yourself and tearing your own life apart in grief over death,” said Chuang.

Chuang’s story is just one of many tragedies that are going on in the world. How he handled and evolved from the experience is what is so inspiring.

“You can’t mourn forever, and you have to accept what happened, so the best thing to do is to hope and look forward. Because things WILL become better; the sun will eventually rise…but you have to lift your head to see it,” said Chuang.

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