I have been struggling to write lately, and I don’t believe in forcing it. If I don’t feel it, then I can’t write it. So I took an unexpected break but I’m back now. Let’s talk about where I have been and what has been going on, and not going on with me.
I took an unplanned two-week break from life honestly, but definitely from my virtual home. My sanity depended on it, and I’m so thankful I was obedient to my feelings and I trusted the process. The words just did not come to me, and I barely posted to social media. Because how do you deal with grief?
Back in November, I shared my cousin Thais’ story about having Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Well, with a heavy heart, a touch of peace, and eyes filled with tears I have to tell you that Thais departed this earthly life on the evening of Saturday, August 18th. She had been fighting for her life for 33 of her 40 years. She had a strength beyond any superhero that exists in a movie. Doctors had counted her out at age seven and she proved them wrong every time. When they told her she could not, she would simply show them otherwise. Even down to the last minute, on August 8th we were told she only had a week left. In true Thais fashion, she held on for a week and three days.
Although Thais was my cousin, we were raised as sisters. I would call her every week and we would spend 5 minutes on the medical stuff and the other 55 minutes talking about everything else. I would send her my video clips when I did interviews or was on TV. Although she could not see them, she enjoyed listening to them. That was my way of bringing the outside world to her. I would also share the family business that belonged to me and others.
On July 7th Thais turned 40, she was looking forward to it and enjoyed her birthday celebration. Although I could not be there in person (she lived 8 hours away) we made a video and sent it to her. There was no way she was going to turn 40 and I not celebrate it with her in some capacity. During our last phone call, she told me all about her birthday celebration. I also helped our cousin James plan a surprise visit to see her. She was so excited she cried, he had been living in Japan and was worried he would not get to see her. We laughed at how good of a surprise that was and how much she enjoyed seeing him and that side of the family. I will forever hold that conversation near and dear to my heart.
I’ve not had a death so close to me since 2002 when my grandmother died. Oddly enough Thais was our grandmother’s namesake, now Florence welcomes Florence Thais to the pearly white gates. Although I knew it was coming, it still hit me really hard. I am the strong friend that always says she is okay no matter what is going on. But, I could not go on, and I could not hide it. My anxiety was on one hundred thousand and I could not cope. I took time off work because my sanity depended on it. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, I’ve not struggled in such a way before. Shout out to my besties Chrissy and Te for constantly checking on me and not just accepting “I’m okay” when they could tell I was not. Because how do you deal with grief.
That Monday my Aunt and Thais’ mom called me and asked if I would speak at her funeral on behalf of the cousins. I instantly said yes, but had no idea how I was going to pull that off. It had been a few days since I got the news and I still had not cried. I was so worried that I could get to the podium and completely come undone. I am proud to say I did not, Babe came to the podium with me for support and I spoke from my heart.
As soon as I sat down again on the pew, I felt a sudden wave of relief. Don’t get me wrong, it was such an honor to be asked to speak at my cousin’s funeral, but it was one of the toughest things that I had ever been asked to do, and I was glad when it was over.
I shared a glimpse into our life as cousins and how we are all more like siblings. We’ve been fussing, fighting, loving, and supporting one another since we were kids. As adults, we made sure we maintained that same bond. We came from as far north as Philly, PA all the way to Columbia, SC to love on her, laugh with her and feed her Chick-fil-a. Her book of life ended in the 40th chapter, but her life will live on.
It will take time for all of us to adjust to this “new normal” especially her mother and two kids. We are thankful for the 40 years we had with her. She left one hell of a mark on this world.
On Wednesday, August 22nd my Aunt Madeline (My Dad’s sister) departed this earthly life. It has been rough for my maternal side of the family and paternal sides of the family. On our way back from SC we stopped by to be with my Dad’s side of the family in NC for a quick visit, laughter, and hugs and kisses. Grief is a part of life and that journey is different for all of us. Unfortunately, it is the one thing we are all guaranteed to deal with. At some point in life, we will all struggle to answer how do you deal with grief.
How do you deal with grief? Chat with me in the comments below or FB, IG, and Twitter.
Sheena Steward says
I’m praying for you and your family! I’m glad you took time away and didn’t force anything. I’ve read several blogs about you and your cousins and I’m glad you have a close family to learn on each other during this time. I’m sending your virtual hugs and love!!! ❤️❤️❤️
Thanks, I appreciate it. Taking time off made a huge difference. I’m so thankful for my family.
This was so touching. Like they say, “how special are you to have something that makes saying good bye so hard?” Even when you see it coming, its never easy saying goodbye. I wish I could tell you how I get over grief, but I don’t think there’s ever a right way. Someone I grew up with just passed on Friday. She was only 30 and suffered from breast cancer. She was diagnosed when she was 26 and was told several times she wound;t make it. WE were so proud that she made it this far and though we saw it coming, it was so hard to handle when she passed. I guess the only thing that made grieving easier was knowing that she was finally at peace as her last days were extremely painful.
That is tough Terri, but I agree with you. Knowing they are at peace and no longer suffering does provide some comfort. I’m sending you prayers of peace too.
I’m sorry for you loss! It’s good to take a hiatus to ensure that you are really okay and grieving properly. I know it’s hard to discuss and be so transparent and personal on a public platform, so I commend you and thank you for being relatable.
I’ve found that sharing my truth with others is very healing for me. Sometimes we feel like we are all alone. The truth is we are far more alike than we realize.
I’m so very sorry for your family’s loss. My prayers are with you and everyone for their strength. I live out of the country and know how hard it can be when you lose a family member and can’t be there with them as everyone griefs. I just try to stay faithful and strong for my family from afar.
Nicole, that has to be extra tough. I’m thankful that in this day and time we have so many ways to connect when we can’t be around in person.
I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s tough to stomach losing someone you’re really close with.
Thanks, it is. She is at peace and that helps give me peace.
Mimi I am so sorry for your loss. I remember when you and your cousin’s traveled to see your cousin. I love that you all share such a close bond. I have lost so many people in my life. I only have one living family member left on my mother’s side outside of me and my children. I can’t say it gets easier, it just changes.
Wow, Kita! I’ve read the stories you have shared. I take comfort in knowing that I did my part. We did not always see eye to eye but we’ve always had a close bond. We have 38 years of marriage.
What a sweet post. Sending virtual hugs and prayers. I don’t know if grief can be managed really. I say cry when you need to, ask for support, take a break like you did but know that the grief never really goes away and that’s ok. In time you just learn to deal better. We still deal with loss of love ones but we balance the tears with laughs as we remember the good times.
Thanks, Leslie. You are so right. It reminds me to live my life to the fullest and honor those gone.
I have to admit that death is not something I feel I handle well. Whether I’ve lost someone or have a friend who has, I always struggle with what to say or do. I understand you having to step away from your online presence to deal with you losses. Prayers to you and your family!
Thanks. It is a hard space to navigate. I don’t know what to say to others sometimes, or how to comfort them.
Aw Mimi, I’m sorry to hear about your cousin and the loss of your aunt too. It’s important to take a break and allow yourself the time you need to grieve and rest as well. We’ll be here when you are ready. I’m praying for you and your family.
Thank you, taking time off was much needed. Writing is good therapy for me. This experience as confirmed my purpose.
This was a really sweet and touching post. I remember your previous posts about her, and I could tell how much she meant to you and your family. You definitely illustrated her strong, sweet spirit very well. It’s great that you have your family to lean on, and I’m sending you prayers during this time.
Thank you Kasi. When we live in such a way, it makes it easy to share how incredible we are.
Sending you a BIG virtual hug! My daughter has experienced 3 losses due to gun violence, car accident, and natural cause, how does a 21 year old die of natural causes?! My prayer for you and her is that you remember the joy they brought to your life, the lessons that only they could teach you, and when you’re alone and you giggle a little that’s them whispering to you only a joke you will understand.
My heart hurts for her, that is tough. While I am said I believe in celebrating her life and making her proud. The memories are what keep me going. We had so many funny stories. I’m thankful for the 40 years we had.
Vanessa Smith says
I am so sorry for your loss, my prayers are with you and your family.
Thank you, Vanessa!
Chante Burkett says
This hit home (lost my mom to cancer 3 years ago) There are no right words that will make you feel better but you and your family are in my prayers!
Thank, you. I appreciate that.