The Dart: Natchez teen learning to deal with loss of father

Published 12:25 am Monday, March 13, 2017


NATCHEZ — When Kassidy Bernard was 10 years old, her father was gunned down outside his business on East Franklin Street in Natchez.

Now 14, the Natchez Freshmen Academy student reflects on her grief and memories of her father, Ezell Wilson, with maturity beyond her years.

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“When it happened, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, eat, take a bath, leave my room or anything,” Bernard said. “It was just too much.

“When you lose someone like that, it’s lonely, and it puts you in a dark place. You feel like you’re losing a part of yourself.”

Those around her did their best to reassure Bernard that “everything would be OK.”

“Everyone kept saying that — ‘It’ll be OK’ — but I had to learn myself that it’s just not something you’re ever going to get over,” Bernard said.

Strengthening her relationship with God helped Bernard deal with her grief, she said.

“I’m not going to sit here and say that I prayed every night,” she said. “But as I grew closer to God, it really helped me to cope, and it made me feel like I wasn’t so alone.”

When The Dart landed on Ratcliff Place Friday, it found Bernard sitting on the steps of her mother’s house. Bernard is not shy about talking about how her father’s death affected her and how it has shaped the path she has chosen for her life.

As her father’s only child, Bernard clings to the good memories she has of him, remembering him as a “good man who made sure I never went without.”

“He was a very nice person, a good person,” she said. “He was loving. I was his only child, so he spoiled me. I never went without. That’s why it hurt so much to lose him, because of the bond we had.”

Her father, Bernard said, always made sure she kept on eye on her future.

Bernard has decided she wants to attend Louisiana State University to study psychology after high school, a way, Bernard said, to channel her grief and what she learned from losing her father into helping others.

“I want to be a psychologist or some type of therapist,” she said. “I think if I can help other people deal with what they’re feeling or going through, then it will be good for me. Maybe it will help me, too.

“I know I am not the only one who felt that way, and I know there are people out there I can help.”