My family has no idea I ever considered suicide.
There were moments when the pain of living without my mom made life seem like it had taken a turn towards "wrong" and there was no going back to "right."
After she died, we (my family) prayed, and moved on.
That's just the way many of us did it back then.
This meant I was accidentally hushed from talking about death at such a young age; no one really wanted to think about THEIR mom (or dad) dying. For most kids, that type of thought was nowhere are their reality radar.
So I just dealt, first with her illness, and then ultimately, with her death. For the most part, I did so alone. In those alone moments, sadness, fear, and anger crept in, and my own death started to become something I was both afraid of, and something that I considered to be easier than living.
My unprocessed emotions and feelings lead to a life of seeking validation, sometimes in spaces that I had no business being in. Why?
Because those are the spaces that listened to me, that "validated" me, that "loved" me.
But the grief in those inauthentic spaces never left. In fact, over the years, my grief magnified.
Ultimately, it took more than the thoughts and prayers of others to get me to a safe space where my healing could take place.
It took self-acknowledgement and work.
I wrote Pineapple Sugar as a book to help start a much-needed conversation around terminal illness, and what that means for the children who see a family member come to the end of life.
But even that story is somewhat "pretty," if I do say so myself.
It is written with the necessary supports-in-place for the child going through the grieving process.
The capacity for challenging conversations between the dying, the bereaved, and other family members, is present in Safiri's story in places that I did not know such luxuries.
I crafted the book this way not because such is the norm, but because I have found that many times, people approach "messy" topics that no one wants to discuss (like death, grief and loss) too delicately or not at all because we have been taught that these are not "normal" conversations--that these are things we should avoid discussing.
But young people are dying; they are surviving tragedy,and then dying from the aftermath.
As humans, we've got to figure this out.
What about the families that have never really understood what it means to seek help?
What about the child who needs to talk about the death of loved ones, but doesn't know where to start?
What about the young people who consider suicide as their best option for "getting over" grief?
Sydney Aiello's passing touched me in a way that makes me as a speaker-turned-author feel convicted, so to speak, and want to do more.
I'm an educator, mother, student, musician and I wife--all things that pull at my time.
But children are dying, and I've got to do more.
And so do you.
Help me start the conversation. Write the book, song, poem, blog, essay, etc. to which the grieving may possibly connect.
Craft the "just thinking of you, I'm here if you want to talk" note for that child you may feel needs support after a major life event.
Share your experience with the parent trying to support a grieving child; inform them about resources that are available to them. Let them know that they are not alone.
The time is NOW for us to use our gifts to help the hurting, and the families that try their best to support them.
Let's all do our part to let everyone know that they are not alone.
#SydneyAiello #GriefConversations #PineappleSugar #ItsOnUs #NotAlone
During the course of my journey at Harvard University, I had the opportunity to meet a character of a man named Brother Blue Storyteller, also known as Hugh Morgan Hill, PhD. After a brief dialogue with me- a stranger in passing on the on the corner of Brattle Street and Appian Way--Brother Blue decided that a name change for me was in order. Upon me, he bestowed the name "Beauty."
By the time Bro. Blue issued my new name, I was captivated not only by his wisdom, but his charm. Sold on whatever else this stranger had to say to me or anyone else, I began to walk with him and his wife to their destination although I had my own.
As we strolled through Harvard square, Dr. Hill was gracious enough to share with me many words of encouragement. Yet, to this day, his parting words resonate within my heart like an inextinguishable flame:
Beauty looks at them, and they are healed.
During this season of my life, I believe it is most important to be transparent and share how the pain and tears I have experienced in my lifetime can at times, weigh heavily on my soul. Even in the midst of joy, it is sorrow, disappointment, and hurt that we experience that brings about a need for healing.
While many suns have risen and set since my chance meeting with Dr. Hill on the snow plowed streets of Cambridge, this morning, as I am wrapped in of one of my most challenging moments, his words rang in my ear long before dawn:
Beauty looks at them, and they are healed.
This morning, however, came with a stronger understanding of what I now believe was a stranger's blessing.
Many of the long-gone sons in my family have preached the inspiring yet humbling message of Jesus Christ. I've witnessed countless times when both the message and messenger have helped the hurting. In my personal experience, I have also learned that hurt and pain can stop even the strongest giant in their tracks. I have come to firmly believe a person needs healing before s/he can be fully available to take on their true destiny .
And that includes me.
I have been hurt.
I have been disappointed.
I have experienced my share of sorrow.
In my reflection of all of these things, Bro. Blue's words spoken long ago on Appian Way became both prophecy and definition:
I am ''the hurting'
I am 'them'
I am 'they'.
And here comes the message:
Before I can usher in healing, I must first be healed.
Beauty looks at [me], and [I am] healed....[I look] at [myself], and [I am] healed.
This message could go so much further than a blog post, but there is a key takeaway that someone may need to experience right now in their lives: Sometimes in the midst of our pain brought on by the low points in our lives, we are desperate for healing and may not even realize it. Whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically, we are paralyzed in our journeys because of situations,circumstances and the aftermath that they birth. What I am learning however, is that while we are waiting on healing, sometimes we have got to do what Brother Blue's timeless message suggests:
Look at yourself.
Look at your life.
Look at what you have overcome.
Look at who you have become despite the pain.
Look at what you do every day to make the world a better place.
Look at how uniquely created you are.
Look at those things that only YOU can do.
Look at how you take care of others.
Look at how you are STILL here even though your circumstances should have taken you out a long time ago.
Look at how you have kept on waking up each day to do what you do.
Look at ALL of these things....and in them find the healing that you have been so desperately waiting on.
Encourage yourself to see you are beauty...
and Beauty, look at yourself...
and be healed.
Rest peacefully, Dr. Hill
There's so much going on right now, ya'll. There are so many stories of tragedy. So many children feeling hopeless. So many people feeling like their voice doesn't matter. It's the loudest voice that seems to be winning right now, even when that voice is cruel, cold, and heartless.
Most of us were taught that good always wins, but where is that victory? Is it coming soon or do we have to wait until we are drained of every bit of strength that we have?
I'm here to tell you that even champions for good get weary...
...we must not quit. Our children need us to remind them that pain is part of life, but it doesn't mean that life is over.
We cannot...we must not allow our differences to outweigh our similarities. It's not our job to judge...it is our charge to LOVE.
Fight for those who seem to have lost their way. Dig deep...deep enough to imagine yourself in the hole that they feel traps them. FEEL their pain, even if only for a moment. Hear their side. Don't speak your opinion while they pour out their heart...listen to THEIR TRUTH.
We cannot lose another child who feels hopeless. We cannot allow another being to be sold into the slavery of hopelessness. We cannot allow another person to become a voiceless victim because they feel there is no other way.
The only way that #love can #win is if we give it room to do so.
#BeTheChange #LetLoveWin #BeSomeonesChampion #LiftTheirVoices
That's all I got right now...so I'm going to just let Donny Hathaway take it from here
God, the weary sure do need you.