In 2016 we faced some unspeakable and gut wrenching events. We mourned as some of our heroes died, and expressed our anger as we watched an open racist win the presidential election. I think it’s safe to say that this holiday season will be a welcomed distraction for many of us. While it’s easy to look forward to a few moments of reprieve given the current political climate, the truth is the holidays represent something different for each of us. Research suggest that the holiday season is not always fun and games, it can be emotionally triggering. And for many, this rings even truer after the recent loss of a loved one.
The first holiday without a close family member offers a range of challenges and many people approach the holiday season with extreme anxiety. As the creator of the fashion/lifestyle blog Gorgeous in Grey and author of the book “Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died,” Ty Alexander can certainly relate.
Known in these internet streets by her signature grey hair, Alexander wrote the book after her mother died of cancer. She spoke with EBONY.com about her journey through the pain and offers a message of hope for readers.
EBONY.com: You really shared a great deal in Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died, and took readers on a journey. What did the process of creating this book entail?
Ty Alexander: It was emotional. I shared that my mom had cancer publicaly before she passed away. People knew she was sick and offered support. When she died they continued to. I started getting so many questions about how I was doing, how I was coping and even emails from people that were also grieving. I was journaling as part of my coping strategy and responding to so many emails from people with questions and stories. I shared what I was doing and some of my challenges. I started to realize that this process, the emails, these connections were all part of a bigger plan. Not everyone that grieves can go to therapy. Not everyone is/or knows how to practice self-care . When you are grieving you need support. Not everyone has it. This book, although it was part of my personal journaling as a result of grief, was also a way to support all of the people who are grieving too.
EBONY.com: Who does your support system consist of?
TA: My fiancé and best friend are a big support. My fiancé is one of the funniest people I know. He knows how to make me laugh even when I don’t feel like it. My best friend allows me to just cry when I need it. She knows how to just listen. One night I called her and just cried for like 20 minutes and she just listened. That’s it. That’s what I needed. That’s what any of us that are grieving need.
EBONY.com: The holiday season can be hard for people grieving the death of loved one. I know you don’t have a quick cure but can you share a few things that helped you?
TA: 1. Feel it. Allow yourself to grieve how you need to. If you are grieving a parent that means you lost a person that you probably loved all of your life. That’s hard. It does get better with time, but allow yourself that time. 2. Honor the love you have for that person. Honor that love by sharing stories about them. Talking about the good times. Holding on to what you love about them. 3. Live in the moment. Live in the moment and enjoy the people in your life as much as you can. Enjoy the small things about them. Hold on to the precious time you spend with them.
While these words are true for those of us who are grieving, allowing yourself to live in the moment with the people you love is universal advice for anyone. Let’s agree to hold each other a little closer this season and beyond.
Shanita Hubbard is a mom, writer, criminal justice professor and Nas stan Follow her on Twitter where she tweets randomly about all four.