It’s that wonderful time of year again. The holiday season where everyone is sitting around a well decorated dinner table, sharing party anecdotes, laughter and, for many in our community, holding back tears in the waves of grief that overcome many of us as we process the difficult relationships with family, the losses we’ve suffered as a community and the love we lose and gain during these hardships. Welcome back to Houston, We Have a Problem. Today I’m going to get a little personal. How do we cope with grief and loss?
I don’t know about you all but navigating life in the skin that I do, in the communities I serve, I am exhausted. I’m tired of the platitudes of “you’re so strong” & “you’re so resilient”. All of these things can be true but how do we continue to romanticize the idea of resiliency when it’s not truly a choice, it is what we have to be to survive. This isn’t what living should be about. Most of all, I am tired of the never-ending waves of grief.
On one end I mourn the lives of black people all over this country who will never be sitting at the dinner table with their families and loved ones again. I mourn for our Trans community constantly experiencing violence and I mourn for the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole who don’t feel safe enough to enter their treasured spaces. I recently experienced the worst heartbreak of my life and it felt insurmountable. In the same month I lost a dear friend to cancer, who was the closest equivalent I’ve ever had to fairy godmother in my life. With everything I’ve experienced compounded with the tragedy of Colorado Springs it feels like our day-to-day lives are pale in comparison to the senseless loss of life we’ve just witnessed. The feeling is indescribable, but collectively I see anger, outrage, and a desire for change. I just want to know when will it all be enough? When will we finally be able to stop having to turn every name into a rallying cry? Will the work we do here today light a path for a better tomorrow? When will we be able to just be?
Everyone has some connection to grief at every intersection of their identities and yet I truly feel more disconnected from the world than I ever have. How do you put into words the need for chosen family and love when it all can easily be so taken away? We love hard until it becomes too difficult and for some we pull away from love until we must come together to mourn.
With the death of my friend, it reminded me to hold onto my loved ones a little closer. With the tragedy of Colorado, it reminded me to tell more people I love them because you don’t know when your experiences of joy with them will be the last. With the loss of numerous people I share identities with, I’m constantly reminded that I need to be a little braver and a little louder. Lastly, with the loss of the future that I wanted to share with the man I thought would remain my partner in life, I’m not reminded of anything but afraid to truly embrace love because of how easy it is to strip it bare and be left alone.
Yet with these reminders I’m still left with more questions that I don’t believe we, as a society, will ever get answers to. The biggest one for me being, is it okay to crumble under the weight of this grief? Life isn’t easy and now more than ever I want to make sure that I push myself to hold onto the people that I love a little harder. It’s okay to be afraid and it’s okay to not be resilient every day of your lives.
All I ask now is that we hold each other in our hearts as we move through this life. It’s not easy to just be present in these moments and you don’t know when it will be your last. Cherish not just your loved ones but every last person you share space with.