Feb 23, 2016

How to deal with the loss of a loved one

Losing a loved one, regardless of age, is incredibly hard. People grieve in different ways; talking about it or ignoring it all together may help you feel better. Some days you may find yourself doing anything to keep your mind busy or others where you simply cannot keep it together and just cry. There is no “right” way to grieve; it is a process that takes time.
Twelve years ago I lost my father. It has taken me that long to finally feel ready to talk about what happened and to have slowly found (some) closure. Everyone deals with loss differently & maybe this will be useful to those who feel stuck.

There are certain activities you no longer take part in, songs you stop listening to, movies you can no longer watch, nicknames you can’t bear to hear - the list can go on. This is okay.  You and the life you had have changed and with time, you learn how to restart again.

For those who are afraid of forgetting songs or lyrics or saying – create a memory journal. There are certain songs and little quotes my father used to say all the time that I’ve never heard anyone else say. I started writing things down when I was thirteen and surprisingly enough, my journal still keeps growing today with random memories or stories I’ve heard from family members. I was afraid of forgetting everything, but I can’t now.

As hard as birthdays or holidays can be, use this time to keep their memory alive. Celebrate their birthday – buy a cake if you want to or fill out a card.  Keep a place for them at the table if this will make you feel better. You don’t have to sing or even talk about it, but remaining to keep these days special will remind you how you still are connected.
I remained silent about my father’s death for years. Some of my closest friends still don’t know how or why he passed. I’ve dealt with people who just don’t know what to say or have said incredibly inconsiderate remarks. What happened to your dad? You never talk about him. | He’s in a better place now, you shouldn’t be sad. | My dad moved away so I can understand how you feel (these are all real comments I’ve received over the years).

I remember feeling isolated from peers or like a charity case. I hated when people who didn’t know would ask how he was, then ask how he died. I felt like screaming: Yes, my parent died but it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me. I wished that my surrounding community had given me the space that I so desperately needed.

Talk about it when you feel ready to. Don’t let others rush you or pry information out. It may seem too hard to talk about them or the circumstance without crying or feeling sad, but there may come a time where you can talk about them and share memories and not cry. The sadness never goes away – you always miss them – but when you start to feel comfortable sharing your memories with others you start to feel so happy that they were a part of your life – for however long or short of a period.

I miss my father every day. Just because I am an adult and twelve years has passed doesn’t mean I don’t miss him or wish I could pick up the phone and hear his voice. I wish he could have been there physically to see all of my life accomplishments.

What I am saying in this post is that your friends, family, or just society in general shouldn’t make a time limit for your feelings or make you feel bad for the different ways you handle grief or remember loved ones in. You shouldn’t be forced to get over someone quickly.

I do not have “daddy-issues” because I grew up without a dad, and I never had behavioral problems.  I am twenty-five years old, a college graduate, and working on my Masters degree in social work.  My mother is the strongest person I know because she was forced to play both parental roles, while working full-time. There will always be a part of me who feels jipped but from this I will continue to confront the stigma against children who are raised by single parents or come from “broken homes.” There was barely any support available to me in 2004 and now, I would like to see more support available to those who need it. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help and there are so many people out there who are willing to listen.

To my dad,
I miss and love you and hope you are proud of me. I told you that you were my hero once and you laughed. I still mean it.

Mar 24, 2015

The Beginning of The End

“Probably everything in my life comes back to a feeling of abandonment, and this city never abandons you.” 

What I have learned from moving to New York is that certain people come and go in your life, fast. I truly believe that individuals come in for a purpose. They leave once that purpose is fulfilled and theres no turning back.  Whats the point of holding onto people who do not benefit your being or empower you? Whats life with a dull mind? There's no point. Life is so short to forgive and to hold on to people who do not make you feel like your fullest.

Throughout my entire life, I have been disappointed by many people. I didn't write this entry to be bitter or negative, but from those past experiences, it has made me a stronger being. I have built this wall so high around myself, that I force myself to block certain people and events out. That may not be the healthiest option, but for me, it works. 

On a lighter note, I am so very proud of myself for being accepted into the Columbia University School of Social Work clinical MSW program. Although, I am not planning on attending, it's still a big accomplishment for myself. I never tried in high school, I had an extreme case of "senior-itis", very much like I currently do, but now I have found a purpose for my education. I have put all of my effort into these last couple of years while obtaining my B.A and its finally showed off. I remember being called a loser for my studying habits, the person who called me that dropped out of college and is now working in retail.  I am entirely grateful for my parents, who instilled the importance of education, and who never let me take that gap year I used to talk about as a child.

Alone time is healthy, even in a city filled with nearly 9 million people. There is always something to do to distract your mind. My favorite thing is walking in Central Park (when the weather permits me), or just riding the subway with no real destination. At home, I used to lock myself in my basement and listen to music and paint.

You do not need others to define your being, nor should others become your medicine to happiness. Only you hold that value and can find that medium.

Mar 14, 2015

Harlem World

“New York has always been going to hell but somehow it never gets there.” 

Its my first time being home in three weeks and no matter how much I love being in the city, I miss little parts of home all the time. I FaceTime with my mom every week but something about drinking coffee at the kitchen table and staying up till 3am talking in person together is the true definition of home. Also cuddling your pets is a+.

My life has drastically changed within the past couple of months. Its kind of strange how attending college can make you fall in love with living. I guess that doesn’t make a lot of sense to people. 

Living in East Harlem has also opened my eyes up to so many new things. Hearing the word “Harlem” has always been associated with being a “bad” place. This isn’t necessarily true.  There is a certain charm in Harlem that I have never seen before. People hug each other on the streets and ask how their families are.  I’ve lived in the same house on Long Island for 23 years and I’ve never even had a conversation with my neighbors before, let alone know their names.

Every weekend my friends and I go to a new museum and try to find the best coffee in manhattan. I’m taking a social movement and change class, and as a requirement, I have to visit 5 museums this semester. Some people may find this incredibly boring, but I’ve always loved museums and learning and seeing new things. When I was in London, I went to a new museum every single day, sometimes I’d go to two (most of the museums are free in the UK if you show a student ID). There’s something about getting lost in a museum and taking it all in that I love. 

(taken at the MoMa)
(taken at the Brooklyn Museum)
(taken at The Museum of the City of New York)

My mother can drink coffee with any meal. I used to find it disgusting because really, how can you drink coffee with dinner? I used to drink a lot of tea but I’ve turned into my mom. The first thing I do when I leave in the morning is get coffee. The first thing I do when I leave for class is get another cup of coffee. I walked 83 blocks for a cup of German chocolate cake coffee. Was it worth it? Yes. Very much so. 
(Effys CafĂ© @ East 92nd St & 3rd Ave) 

I hope your weekend is filled with sick beats, love and that you surround yourself with positive vibes and cupcakes. 

xoxo 143,