In the past few months, in the wake of all that’s upturned the world, I’ve built an intimate relationship with grief.
It seems like loss has touched us all in some way in the last few months, because of the pandemic, the uprisings, or maybe something in between. For many, it’s the loss of a family member or a friend, for some it’s the loss of celebratory moments. There are some of us though – who’ve been grieving silently for years, and now the silence is no more.
As a young black, Somali, Muslim woman, I can’t turn a blind eye to the revolution occurring around the world. My existence is political. Watching the uprising of my brothers and sisters after yet another black man died at the hands of police is terrifying, saddening, but – it gives me so much hope. We are finally taking up space, we are grieving out loud.
“I can’t breathe” – the last heartbreaking words to escape George Floyd were all too painful to listen to, so painful that the world finally decided enough was enough. Cue, a cascade of stories naming the unjust deaths of black men, women, and children across North America bubbling to the surface. Breonna Taylor. Oulwatoyin Salu. So many more.
As I wrapped my mind around each story, I remembered what I felt when I lost a loved one and a friend. After reading each story of a man, woman, or child who was taken away from family and friends, I couldn’t help but wonder how deeply it must hurt to not only lose someone, but to lose them unjustly in a system built for you to never find peace after their passing.
Grieving is uncomfortable, heavy, hard to hold in but not pretty to let out, sometimes it’s angry, sometimes it’s solemn. One thing is for certain, there is power mourning together. My people taught me how to embrace a grieving person, we never leave each other’s side. It’s tradition to fill homes with gifts, love, food, and prayers. In my culture, grief brings people together in the spirit of love for one another, we focus our attention on a single mission; helping the who lost somebody feel peace.
Through every period of chaos that threatened to dismantle my positivity, there are valuable lessons I’ve learned.
No matter how you are grieving, no matter who you are grieving, no matter what you are grieving – You deserve love & you are not alone.
Grief has no path, it’s peaks and valleys will take your by surprise but don’t worry, your feelings make sense, they are valid.
Self-compassion is the only way through, you deserve rest so let yourself rest.
Self-acceptance is the only way out, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, your freedom lies in understanding that your emotions are immeasurable and they do not fit neatly in labels and boxes, they are all a part of being human.
Give people their flowers while they are still alive, speak love and kindness constantly because never know when our last hour will be.
“Grief is just love, with no place to go” – Jamie Anderson.
Asmaa Ali is a Nurse and Canadian Muslim passionate about health, community building, and creativity in all forms. IG: @asmaa.jpeg Twitter: @asxmaali