I lost my great aunt Flossie about 3 weeks ago. She was just 6 weeks shy of her 102nd birthday and over the last 10 years of my being in Florida I have had the pleasure of getting to be a part of her life on a regular basis. My great-aunt was a remarkable woman. A woman who stood up for her beliefs before women had any power, a woman who made her own choices before a woman was allowed, and a woman who was childless by choice, in a time when having a child was seen as a woman's only job. Instead, my great-aunt had a career, traveled with my uncle all over the world, and did what she wanted when she wanted.
So, why am I writing this? Well, I was inspired by something Alishia said in her interview. And if you have not listened to Episode 49: Motherhood After Loss, please go do that. Anyway, in the interview, Alishia said “Women do not feel worthy of grief.” I have sat with that sentiment for a few weeks now and I think she is right. When I found out my great aunt passed away there were some tears, but for a person who loves to cry, my reaction was lackluster. So is it that I don’t feel worthy? I have been looking back to when my grandma Lu passed away, almost 6 years ago, and I had a similar reaction. My grandma was one of my favorite people on this planet, she was weird, supportive, full of love, and always made me feel special. When I found out she died, I cried a little bit, but once again for someone who loves to cry, my reaction was a bit empty. I honestly still do not think I have fully processed her death because the idea of giving in to that emotion is really scary.
So, why do we not feel worthy of our own grief? Is it just because we associate grief with negative emotions? Is it that we are scared of grief because it is uncomfortable? Is it because we as women always feel we have to take care of others? Or is it because we as humans don’t have a great relationship with death? I don’t know if I have an answer or if I ever will, but one thing I do know is that grief is just the continuation of the love we felt for that person.
So, once again grief is one of those words where we need to change the narrative. Think of grief as a positive thing. So, now as I start to close up my thoughts on the matter I just want to end this with a story. A story that makes me smile, a story involving my grandma and her sister, my great aunt, a story that brings me happiness.
About 14 years ago my brothers, sister-in-law, and I came down to Florida to go to Harry Potter World. My grandma Lu, who barely ever left her house, decided to join us so that she could catch up with her sister. So, we take the plane from New York, and my grandparents pick us up at the airport. Now, my grandma Lu’s being there was supposed to be a surprise for her sister, even though she kind of gave up her own secret a week before the trip. Anyways, we all get into the car and head out to this Chinese restaurant to meet my great aunt. When we get there my grandma stays in the car because she wants to surprise her sister at the restaurant. Before we know it my grandma's head is in between her knees, and my brother Mathew and I are hysterically laughing because seeing grandma in this position was amazing. She stays like this for a little while until my great aunt goes into the restaurant. We all go in after with my grandma Lu in the back and when she sees her sister she says “surprise” to which my great aunt replies “I knew you were coming Lucille.” So now let’s face forward to the parking lot after we ate. We are getting my grandma's luggage into my great-aunt's car and before we say goodbye I turn to look at my great-aunt and say “aunt Flossie don't kill grandma.” my great-aunt looks at me with a straight face and says “I couldn’t make it look like an accident.”
So, you are worthy of grief. And to my grandma, Lu, and great aunt Flossie up in heaven, be nice to one another.
Love always your Cycle Half,