This holiday season will be different for many of us. This year has brought plenty of highs but also a nice amount of lows. Those lows consist of losing people who were a big part of our lives. This year alone I have lost three relatives who meant the most to me.
The day that many of you received your copies of As Jasmines Bloom in March, I received news that one of my favorite cousins, Taruno had passed away. Just 40 years old who had his whole life ahead of him. A bittersweet time. Seeing so many of you excited about receiving your copy and getting a chance to read the book. However, sadness was also inside of me knowing that I wouldn't hear Taruno's infectious laugh, see that big million-dollar smile ever again or hear how proud he is of me for writing the book.
In early September, my Bigma transitioned. Many of you sent in reviews of the book and mentioned how much you loved hearing stories about my grandmother. Bigma lived a long 88 years. She loved her family with every being of her body. I remember coming home to Water Valley to bring everyone a copy of the book to have. Seeing her reaction when I gave her a book filled me with emotion. She opened it and began to read it. I sat and watched her flip page after page. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't think to take a picture. She was so proud of me. Looking back now, that moment was significant. Bigma got to see me in a good place. So many times she worried about me and just wanted me to be happy. Those seasons were rough but my Bigma always told me she loved me and that she would always be there. She got me to see me travel the world, accomplish some of my goals, and most importantly be healthy. Making her proud is motivating me now more than ever.
A little over a month after Bigma's passing, my sweet Great Grandmother Virgia passed. She lived a full 91 years of life. The older that I became the closer I got to my great grandmother. Each Christmas in Chicago, we would spend time with her. I would call her every chance that I could just hear her voice and we crack some jokes. That was my girl. She loved us so much. If you walked into her house, there will be walls filled with pictures of all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so many more. She also was able to receive a copy of my book. Knowing that both great grandmother and grandmother were able to witness me achieve one of my biggest dreams has given me peace & strength that I didn't know I would need.
With so much loss this year, I'm here to tell you all that it hasn't been easy. Thanksgiving was yesterday and as much I wanted to be in the spirit, I just couldn't. We all gathered at Bigma's house and it just felt numbing. We all had some great food, told stories, watch the kids play but I think we can all agree that something still just felt missing.
There is no blueprint on how to get over grief. In my personal opinion, you simply can't. Loss isn't new to me and my family. It still feels weird not having my dad, papa, and all of my other family members and friends who have transitioned around. But what I do know is that each day that we are blessed with is another opportunity to live life the best way we can. You can honor those who have gone on before us, by living life with intention, passion, and love.
There are a few things that have been helping me deal with my emotions. I wanted to share in hopes of these helping anyone else out there who may be dreading this holiday season:
Honor my feelings. My therapist warned me to not ignore my feelings and that it's okay to have my moments. I did my best to suppress and keep busy especially since Bigma passed. I learned quickly that was not the healthiest thing to do. I'm learning to sit with my feelings and emotions. If I'm feeling sad or angry, I sit with it. If I don't feel like talking, I don't. Some days it was hard to get out of bed. I gave myself permission to take the day to just lay down. However, I may be feeling it's okay. I give myself time and some grace.
Exercise. Over the last couple of months, I have been back in the gym. It has been one of the best investments I have had made in a long time. It's something about seeing your body in the mirror and seeing results that have motivated me to keep going. Exercising has been therapeutic. I dedicate each Tuesday and Thursday night to it. It may not be as much as I want considering my schedule but I get it in.
Journaling. Writing out my thoughts has always been my go-to activity since I was a child. Although writing has been more challenging lately, I push myself to jot down whatever I'm feeling. At the end of each entry, I write down a quick prayer and say it out loud. I tend to write at night because it helps ease my mind and allows me to get some decent sleep.
Quality time with family and friends. I have to admit that when these losses occurred the last thing I wanted to do is be around a large group of people. Most of my work requires me to be social, which has never been an issue for me, but lately, I have struggled with it. What has helped ease my way back into being social is spending time with family and close friends. Even if it's going out to grab some Ramen or brunch with the girls, babysitting my nephew or nieces, movie night with my boyfriend, or joining my family for 1st Sunday dinners, I have slowly built up the will to be around people. The key is to be around people who truly love you and care for your well-being.