Once upon a time, in the magical era of the early 2010s, I set out to either write for or create my own blog a la Jezebel or xoJane. I was almost there, working for a fantastic start up writing passionately about pop culture, feminism and sustainability, submitting pieces to other rad blogs, and meandering around the Lower East Side hoping that one day, I could save up and move somewhere near my beloved Babycakes bakery. (this was a reach dream, of course, but as I was about to find out, anything can happen.) I attended a friend’s birthday party in Astoria on October 6th, 2012 where I finally felt like I was shaking off the post-graduation uncertainty, and coming into my own.
Two days later, the worst thing that could ever happen did: my brother Matthew passed away, 3 months to the day of turning 30. It was devastating, to put it mildly. I went through the motions–informing others, going to his funeral, taking two weeks off from my day job, and then jumping right back in to my life. It’s what he would have wanted, right? For a little over a year, I chugged along pretending that nothing had really changed even though I had lost hair, lost weight, stopped sleeping, missed deadlines, dated some lovely gentlemen, and would either cry or rage at the drop of a hat. Everything was totally fine!
Then one day, I knew I had to stop writing for a bit. I was not at the top of my game, and I was avoiding the inevitable–addressing the huge, major, all consuming traumatic event that nearly destroyed me and my family. This break was supposed to be temporary. But save for a few misguided “relaunches,” (This site at one point was a rather cringe-y feminist pop culture blog and a wellness blog in which I detailed a hike in the Catskills like I was climbing Mount Everest. Gotta love that 20-something hubris.) I just couldn’t do it. So, a temporary break almost became a permanent one.
I cannot tell you how many drafts I have of posts like this, the “re-introduction” post. The timing never felt right and I also found myself talking about death even though I swore I would never be one of those people. You know, someone who loses a spouse or parent and talks about the death like it happened two months ago as opposed to two decades ago. Besides, it’d had been (insert number less than 10 here) years ago, shouldn’t I be over grieving?
No. Because–spoiler alert–you are never “over it.” You can move on from the initial pain, but you will never be over it. I will never be over losing my brother when I was 26 years old. I’m 35 now, and things I thought were settled or I didn’t even know I had strong feelings about are popping up and I need to address them. This has been a huge lesson during (especially the pre-vaccine era) of COVID. I had nowhere to hide as I was unemployed, high risk, and there are only so many times you can stream The Simpsons on an endless loop/read books/redecorate your space/bake gluten free cakes without hating it after a while.
So, instead of stopping myself in fear of a weird stigma I created in my head as I’ve been doing the past few years, I’ve decided to fully write about grieving not only as a healing process for myself, but for others who are experiencing loss. We need more places to talk about grief, especially during a time when a very deadly virus has taken (as of this writing) 455 million people worldwide. 455 million. I want to note that I am not a doctor, therapist, or counselor, I am merely someone sharing their experience that will hopefully help even one person manage what they’re going through.