The last few weeks have been very rough for me. I found myself in a very dark place and at some points I did not want to come out of it. It was a very scary place to be, and I am still trying to navigate my way through it with a lot of professional help. Why am I sharing this with you? Because on this day more than any other, I want you to know it is ok to for you to not be your best. It is ok to not have it all together. It is ok to let yourself grieve.
Grief is fucked up! Grief is a complete asshole. It is not polite, it is not quiet, it is not tender or patient. So why the fuck am I asking you to welcome grief? Because believe it or not, the people we have lost want us to LIVE!
Now, don’t get me wrong, as I am typing this, I am not ok. I carry about of guilt around with me everyday. Losing my mother at a young age was and still is the most traumatic experience I’ve ever been through. It shapes a lot of who I am and how I move through life. So trust me when I say, I get it! You are never going to “get over it”. But maybe it is ok to feel when we need to and still live a fulfilled and happy life.
We didn’t move to the US until mid 2002. So, I didn’t feel what it was like to be here during the tragic events of 9/11. As a 10 year old kid living in West Africa, I didn’t understand the gravity of what Americans were feeling. But I heard the ramblings of my older family members praying for those who had lost their lives and their loved ones who now had to pick up the pieces. Back then that was my 9/11 experience.
Now, as a woman who has called America home for the past 20 years, that experience has drastically changed. I have had the chance to hear and feel the experiences of my friends, family, co workers and countless strangers I’ve never met. Each experience, no matter where they were or what they were doing, were all filled with togetherness. I think in the midst of tragedy, the fact that most people’s first reaction is to help each other is one of the most incredible things about the human experience.
I say that because grief is a very lonely place. There is so much guilt that we carry by ourselves. There are so many days that I feel like the worst daughter because it feels like I’m forgetting her. I don’t want to loose to memories. I don’t want her to think I am leaving her behind. Trust me, I am aware that is an incredibly lonely and difficult place to be. Through therapy, I know logically that there is a balance. But, those days when I find myself thinking about my life and the people I love, I forget sometimes that it wasn’t always just me, my siblings, aunts and uncles. And I almost hate myself for not thinking about my mom first.
So much of the pain of events like 9/11 and the current COVID crisis is the horrid feeling of not being able to say goodbye to your loved one. That is a huge part of the guilt I carry with me everyday. Not being able to say goodbye makes me feel like I there is this big hole in my grieving process. For the hundreds of thousands of families who didn’t get to hold their loved ones hands while they moved on, or still haven’t been able to have funerals for their loved ones during this pancetta, you are not alone. I know the statement “you’re not alone” is very hard to hear because oh my goodness it feels like you’re all on an island by yourself. But, I’m going to tell you that you are truly not alone.
There have been many times when I did not want to hear “you are not alone”. Just last week it annoyed me when a friend told me that. After thinking about it and allowing myself to get my shit together, I had to call her back and apologize for not fully allowing her to support me. She understood because she loves me and gets that I am a pain in the ass. And let me tell you, it can be just that simple for you too. Let people who love you in. Because guess what, they just love you through all your pain and heartache. They will keep coming back because that is what love is. They may not always like you, but you don’t need to be at your finest for someone to love and support you unconditionally.
So today, do you! If you want to be alone, or need a day to two or three by yourself, TAKE IT! I am learning with you. I’m having a difficult time myself, but I want us to stop punishing ourselves together. Because if there is one thing I know about my mother, your loved one, they want us to LIVE. It’s not going to be easy, but we will keep checking on one another. Let’s just make sure it’s not only on days like these.