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