words cannot express how relieved i am that it is finally friday. typically, i am happy on thursday nights simply because i know the next day is a short work day that trails into the weekend. last night, i was a little uneasy about how i might be feeling today.
today marks 17 years since my uncle squeaky’s death.
my mom and my uncle pretty much grew up like twins since he was less than a year younger than her. i was closer to him than any other man in our family, my father included. you know how you can communicate without words with your best friend, laugh for hours on end and simply feel understood at every turn? that was my uncle for me. i often wonder what he would have to say about what i am doing now in life and just about how i turned out as a whole. i would give anything to have had the opportunity to be friends with him as an adult, especially since he passed just a month after my 12th birthday.
every single year, this day feels a bit different and as someone who loves consistency and predictability, not knowing how the day might go is a bit anxiety inducing.
i knew the relief was coming both from knowing that i would be spending this afternoon road tripping to vegas with my mom and reuniting with some of my best friends – my work wife, reens and her amazing boyfriend (who is now part of my family), sam. *random side note: his photography skills are incredible so go give him a follow on the gram.
even with me knowing that i would get some quality time with people who truly understand me, love me and have seen me through some of my darkest times, i still dread this day because it is a day where i know i may not have any real control over my emotions. but guess what?
that is more than okay.
i have talked before about my bravo reality tv show obsession and one of the shows i watch religiously is real housewives of beverly hills. about a month ago, lisa rinna said something so profound about grief:
“grief is a process that no one teaches you how to go through.”
when we are in preschool and kindergarten learning the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors and about all of the animals, we are soaking up all of that information. and not to say that information is not important, but rarely is death something that is discussed with children. i have found in working as a therapist that death is even rarely discussed amongst adults – that is, until someone loses someone close to them. but here’s my issue with that: it is a little late to start having the discussions about death and grief once a person is already going through it. i think that is why lisa rinna’s quote really struck a chord with me.
as someone who has multiple degrees in psychology, i have not only taken classes on grief, loss and trauma, but i have led grief, loss and trauma therapy groups. i have seen someone go through every stage of grief and not just the standard five that you often hear about (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). not only are there more stages than this but people (myself included) often circle back to a stage that perhaps they initially thought had been conquered successfully.
today, i reread my uncle’s obituary. i carry multiple obituaries of loved ones i have lost in my MacBook case in the event that i ever just want to look at photos or read memories about them. i realized i had not read his since before the holiday season. i teared up a bit just looking at his smile and thinking about his laugh. we still have half the day ahead of us so there might be more tears. i am allowing myself that space.
while no one taught me about grief before college, what i have learned is that time does not necessarily heal. you can have a day that is just as tear filled in year 20 after loss as you had on day one. i do think that time has allowed me to reflect and deeply appreciate the connection i shared with my uncle. i have chosen to try and channel his energy as often as i can as he was one of the best and most authentic people i have ever known. i have learned that no two people experience grief in the same way, even if they have lost the same person. i would even go as far to say that each person i have personally lost, i have grieved differently. with grief, i have learned to expect the unexpected.
a piece of my heart will always belong to my uncle.
what is something you wish someone had told you about grief? i would love to hear about it.