This is a discussion with my friend Alison Tariq. On March 11, 2018, we celebrated the first anniversary of Mark’s death in her home. After moving to VA, I became closed off, and Alison came to my home to comfort this behavior. Alison told me she didn’t care how ugly my grief was when she was staying with me through the entire process. She took me to dinner and we just talked. Her actions made me realize I need to find a new therapist and continue doing the work of facing my grief.
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Embracing The Ugliness Of Grief With Alison Tariq
In this episode, my conversation is with my girlfriend, Alison. I love her. I love her commitment, even though she is totally uncomfortable, but that’s what hood does. They roll up and Alison rolled up. Welcome to this conversation. Let’s get right into it.
My guest is my girlfriend, Alison. We are so close that she could have walked over here, at least her husband has before, but she chose to drive. Let’s get into the conversation, Alison.
Tina, how are you? I’m a little nervous, to be honest with you.
She is, but she loves me. She is doing this for the hood because the hood comes in hard.
Yes, I’m doing this for the hood. I’m equipped with my glass of wine.
Alison, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Alison?
Alison’s a person, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a hard worker.
Are you from this area?
I was born in North Carolina, but I moved here to Hampton, Virginia, when I was a baby and have resided in Hampton most of my life growing up. I went to college and all like that. I moved away a couple of times, but mostly the pull was pretty strong for me to come back to the area. I love the water in this area. You can’t beat that for the water. I have moved away. I lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a while. Go, Steelers.
After college, I lived in Pittsburgh for a little while. I then came back to the area, moved to North Carolina for a little while, and then moved back to the area. I decided that this probably is where I wanted to be. I can go to other places, but I feel at home here. This is where my mother and my sister are. I only have one sibling, my sister. It’s very comfortable for me to be here. Also, I have a large network of friends, acquaintances, and things like that.
Where did you go to college?
I initially went to North Carolina Central University. My mom and dad went there. My mother was pushing me to go there, but after a year and a half of paying out-of-state tuition, I decided to come back to Old Dominion University. I went there and graduated from Old Dominion. I got my Bachelor’s degree there, and then I went to Hampton University for my Master’s degree.
Let’s back up on the whole Steeler thing. She breezed over that, but I need you to understand it is not a light matter. Let’s talk about the Steelers thing a little bit.
I am a crazy rabid Steeler fan. I love the Steelers. I’ve been watching them since I was twelve years old. I used to have friends that would come over on Sunday with their mothers. They were two guy friends. Our mothers would talk and chit-chat in the kitchen and whatnot, and because they were company, I had to turn to what they wanted to watch on television. Being boys, they wanted to watch football. The team that got a lot of airtime around here was the Steelers. They were Steeler fans. They taught me the game and taught me to love the Steelers. Fortunately for me, at that time, the Steelers were good and they were winning and beating everybody. I have lived through the good times and the bad times with the Steelers.
That is my team. They’ll always be my team. My son is a big Steeler fan too. He tells me, “Mom, I’m more of a Steeler fan than you are.” I said, “How is that even possible?” He said, “It’s because I was born from a Steeler fan. Your mom is a Redskins fan. You were born from a Redskins fan. I’m more of a Steeler fan than you are.” Although I disagreed with him, on the other hand, I could see why a child would have that logic.
I never knew that. You have a lot of Steeler stuff. What are some of your favorite Steeler items?
We have a home theater in my house. Half of the home theater is decorated for Steelers. There are banners from the championship years and framed pictures in there. All kinds of Steeler paraphernalia are in there, like rugs, pillows, bean bags, chairs, tables, towels, everything. I have the table towels framed, as well as ones that I can spin around. The other side of the home theater belongs to my husband. We won’t talk about the other side because it’s not Steelers.
I was wondering how you were going to play that out, “The other side of the room is another team that we’re not going to talk about.”
We don’t even need to mention that.
I was expecting you to do something different. You surprised me with that. Well played. Your network of friends, what does that look like here?
I have friends that go back to when I was probably in second grade. As a matter of fact, I got together with some friends. We get together once or twice a year to celebrate birthdays. We got to talking and realized that we had been friends since second grade. We used to spend the night at each other’s houses. We grew up together. We went to most of the same schools together and mostly did not part ways until college.
We went to different colleges, but we are still friends. We were at each other’s weddings and all of that. I still have very close friends from when I was in second grade up to high school. One of my girlfriends, we were talking and she said, “Do you realize we’ve been friends for 50 years?” I was like, “Until you said that, I hadn’t put a number on it.” When I started to think how old you are in the second grade, then yes, we have been friends for 50 years.
Friendship is important. That’s a small group of people in your network. What about some other friends?
I have friends that I’ve met in adulthood, and a lot of people don’t think that you can meet friends once you become an adult, that you can establish long-term relationships with folks once you become an adult. I say that that’s not true. I have some very dear friends that I did not meet until I was out of college and working in my career. You’re one of them.Many people don't think you can still meet friends as an adult and establish long-term relationships, but that's not true. Click To Tweet
Why do you think people don’t think they can make friends as adults?
A lot of people say you have a lot more reticence about putting yourself out there and possibly getting rejected. A lot of people don’t think that you can make friends once you get to be an adult, but you have to. You have to remember that little inner child that wants to get out and play with everybody. You have to step out of your comfort zone a little bit more when you’re an adult. When you’re little, most of the time, you don’t have a comfort zone. You’re easy to do things.
I never thought about the idea of not being able to make friends past a certain age. I feel like I’m still meeting people that are interesting, and I want to befriend them on some level.
I feel the same way, but there are a lot of people who don’t feel that way. The majority of people I know, I talk to, and I’ve met that happen to be people I work with or meet in passing do not think that it’s that easy to make friends as adults.
Why have you found it easy to make friends?
I’m outgoing and I don’t usually meet a stranger. I talk to people when I meet them. Usually, when you’re that way and the other folks are that way too, then things click. If you want to nourish that relationship that you met someone and talk to someone and all like that, then that’s the stepping stone for going towards meeting people while you’re a grown person and adult. It takes work, and you don’t have that history that you had with other folks. It might take a little bit more work, but I’ve not had a problem with that.
Speaking of us being friends, do you recall how we met? I want the whole story.
We met at Christopher Newport. I was working there professionally at that time. You were still in school. You were working part-time in the financial aid office. I would see you passing in the halls and in the restroom, that kind of thing. I believe one day you walked up to me and said, “Hello, I’m Tina.” You introduced yourself and said, “I admire you. I see you coming and going every day and I like the way you carry yourself. I’d like us to get to know each other a little bit better.” I was like, “That doesn’t happen every day.”
When I walked away, I thought, “She was very nice and I’ve seen her a million times. I haven’t talked to her. She’s very assertive. I didn’t have any issue with any of what she said.” That was our introduction. We got to talking to each other here and there, passing in the hall and that kind of thing. Through another friend, we got to know each other a little bit better. Another person was working in my office at the time. I think you and her were closer friends. It ended up being that sometimes I would be talking to her, you would be there and we would get together, things like that.
I remember with that other person, for a long period of time, our friendship was intertwined. I remember when I moved to Pennsylvania and started seeing you outside of another person. The thing that happened the most was I had some training down on one of the bases in Norfolk. You were dirt tired and you were like, “You’re only going to be here for a few days.” You were looking at your schedule. “I have this and this done. This is the only day I can come.” I was like, “We have our own friendship.” You came, sat there, and went to sleep sitting in the chair.
Somebody may have been offended like, “Why did she come and visit me and go to sleep?” What it meant to me, you love me that much, even dirt tired, you wanted to be in my presence because of our friendship. From that moment on, I was like, “She is my friend.” I tried to make sure I didn’t discuss another person that I was seeing you and our friendship and being intentional about that. I appreciate that. Sometimes we can get blinded by different things or in this pattern, and we don’t see the person that’s right in front of us.
I was married at that time as well. We had children that were close in age as well. We had some different things to talk about and different experiences to go through together that you may or may not have had with other folks. That also helped cement that bond a little bit more.
As you say that, I now realize that was one of my first losses in life because when you were pregnant with your son, I was pregnant and then I had a miscarriage. I was trying to navigate celebrating you but not making it all about me and doing that. That was a dance we had to play and doing that. You were very gracious in that process, not making it weird. We talked about like, “This is the reality. This is what we’re dealing with.” That was hard. It was sweet.
I wasn’t going to bring it up because I wasn’t sure.
I literally remember that we went the same day to hear the baby’s heartbeats.
That’s when I found out.
I called you all excited and you didn’t have the same exciting news.
Was I sitting in the parking lot? Where was I at?
I don’t remember, but I remember we were supposed to have it done and then we were supposed to check with each other. I was like, “I heard the baby’s heartbeat,” and you did not hear a heartbeat. That’s where the dance started. I was full of joy and emotion about being pregnant and hearing my baby’s heartbeat and wanting to talk to somebody about that who was going through it as well. I had to temper that because I wanted to be aware and cognizant of your sorrow at the same time. It was a little dicey. It was a little difficult to navigate as a young woman expecting their first child, but here we are still many years later.
I then got pregnant with our daughter. You were full in. I can think of this picture in the house in Gloucester. Was it a blow-up swimming pool that they were in? You took Katherine to go see Barney. Was it at the Coliseum back then?
Yes. We went to the Coliseum. I took Katherine and Omar to see Barney at the Coliseum. They were so little and they loved it. They had such a great time. I thought that that was fantastic.
This friendship has gone on for years. I did make one faux pas when I started having the bonfire. I’ll let you share about that.
I wasn’t invited.
I’m having this big party, and I was asking you about it like, “Are you coming to different stuff?” You were like, “You did not tell me about a bonfire.” I was like, “How did I do that?” In my head, I was like, “We’re breaking up now. It’s not going to happen.” How do you do all that and not think to invite somebody? That has been one of the things about our relationship to have a candid conversation and go, “I plain forgot. I messed up.” Every bonfire thereafter, you were there, even to the point where you and Z came to Pennsylvania and were the only people from the crew to be there. That was fun.
We came to 5 or 6 consecutive bonfires in Pennsylvania. We even got to the point where we would come the day before everybody to get the best sleeping accommodation. Also, that gave us an extra day to spend. The minute everybody else got there, it was on. I just wanted that extra day of time to hang out. We went up the little street to the little cafe with the Turkey chili and little desserts from the little place down the street. I enjoyed going up to the Poconos. I had never been before until we started coming up to the bonfire. That was the annual trip that we very much looked forward to before the holidays set in and everything like that.
The funny part about that is when we lived in Virginia, we would have the bonfire the day after Thanksgiving. We had all these leftovers, and we had some pallets or something. It was like, “Let’s have a bonfire.” It just happened. We moved to Pennsylvania. We were renting a house, and there wasn’t much of a backyard. We finally purchased a house. I looked out there, and it was all this wood that needed to come down. I was like, “I guess we could have a bonfire.” I did not think it through. I was like, “We’re going to have it the day after Thanksgiving.” You guys humored me. It was the next year.
I told you, “If you have it the day after Thanksgiving again, we will not be there.” We flipped it to Veterans Weekend because that was a low-travel timeline. It was very hectic. We have a big Thanksgiving celebration down here. It was either at my aunt’s house, my mother’s house, or my house. We would rotate it. I literally remembered that we had to get up at around 6:00 AM to start driving so that we could make sure we got to you by dark when the bonfire started.
We had to cut everything off Thanksgiving night and get some rest so that we could get up and start driving first thing the next morning. I believe we just went up. We drove up on Friday. The bonfire was on Friday. On Saturday, we might have come back the next day. It wasn’t a long weekend at that time. I said, “I’m not doing that again. It can’t be the day after Thanksgiving because there’s too much of my family in town. Too much stuff I have to cut off abruptly in order to do that.” If it’s not then, then it could be a whole weekend where we can take a day or so and enjoy it.
We had some fun times with that, hanging out, checking out the local shops, and doing stuff like that. That is pretty cool. In your life experiences, what have been some losses that you’ve had?
I don’t know why I didn’t think about it. I knew I was coming on here. I’d say probably my father. That was a big one for me. I thought we’d have more time. That’s one of the things I’ve learned never to take for granted. My grandfather passed months after my father. As a matter of fact, I recognized that my mother was pretty much in denial about her father, which is what I was about mine. My sister and I talked to each other and said we need to get in the car and drop to North Carolina.
My mother’s youngest sister called us and said, “If you ever want to see your grandfather again, you need to drop what you’re doing right now and come now.” I said, “We just talked to mom and she said that he was doing okay and he was fine.” They said, “Your mother’s in denial. If you want to see your grandfather, you need to come right now. All the other grandkids are already here.” My mother had been telling us, “He’s fine. He’s going to be okay,” because she was in denial.
My sister and I literally dropped everything. I was vacuuming my house. The vacuum was there when I got back in the middle of the floor, still plugged in but turned off, thankfully. We went to North Carolina and saw my grandfather before he passed away, and he looked at my sister and I and smiled. He closed his eyes and a tear went down his cheek, and then he was gone. Literally, we think he was holding on for us to get there.
That must have been a wonderful feeling to make it and to be there for that.
We drove six hours straight to the hospital and made it.
Do you recall how old your grandfather was?
I don’t remember, maybe 80 years old.
He lived a long life. You said that has shown you to realize that we don’t have every moment that life is not given to. How does that impact how you’ve lived your life?
I try my best to accentuate the positive. I try not to dwell on negative thinking. Everybody can get into a rut and all like that. I wake up every day grateful to wake up in the morning. I have the little mantra that I say in the morning, and I wake up every day genuinely excited about having woken up that morning. That’s how I make it. From there, to me, everything else is a bonus.
You wake up in the morning and your eyes open up and realize, “I’m still here. I’m alive.” I say, “I get another chance to do it right.” That’s how I look at it. Those are probably the two biggest losses that I had that impacted me. I saw what I did with my own father, which was to hesitate. I did not make it in time to see him. I didn’t want that to repeat for my grandfather. I learned that lesson early on, and I try now to be there when people need me and try to think of how horrible I felt that I did not recognize that when my own father was sick and I didn’t make it to him in time, as opposed to for my grandfather.
That does have a way of changing our lives and how we’re living. In that same vein, talking about that, how did you come to know what was going on with my situation with Mark?
That Saturday, I got a phone call from Geri. Geri told me that Tina and Mark are in Delaware and Mark has had a heart attack. I knew Mark was living down here and you were in Pennsylvania. I didn’t know that you all had met up there. I was not at home. I was at my sister’s house in Hampton. She said, “I think I’m going to hop in the car and go.” I said, “I’m at my sister’s house. I’d have to go back to Norfolk.”
She said, “I’m going to drop it. I’m going and I will continue to give you updates and update you.” I was like, “Let me know and I’ll check on you while you’re driving. I’ll get my stuff. If you need me, let me know the situation when you get there. I’ll drive up tomorrow.” It was late. It was nighttime. It was pretty late in the evening. She got in the car and started driving. I was still at my sister’s house. We had been there all day doing something. I can’t even remember what, probably some handy work or something. We were hungry, so we called in some food. I said, “My car’s blocking everybody in. Let me run up the street and get it.”
This was like pre-DoorDash days. I went to get the food and came back. Everybody was quiet in the room, and I was like, “I got the food,” and this and that. I was putting the food out. My husband said, “Geri called.” I had left my cell phone at my sister’s. I got there and was like, “Where is my phone?” I was like, “Let me hurry up and get the food and get back.” When I got back, he said, “Your phone rang and it was Geri.” I said, “Okay. I left my phone and she said she would call me to give me updates.” He said, “She did give us an update.”
I said, “What’s the update?” He said, “She said that Mark passed away.” I was like, “No. She said what?” He said, “She said Mark passed away.” I said, “No.” I could not believe it. It was incomprehensible. I immediately started thinking, “He’s too young and they’re making plans to move back here. He’s already here and this can’t be.” I was shocked.
Geri kept calling and giving me updates like, “I’m almost there.” She was driving when she got the news. She had gotten in the car and started driving, but she was driving and was still a considerable ways away. I can imagine what she was feeling by herself driving up there trying to get to you. I was waiting to find out everything else that was going on. She updated me that she got there. She said, “I’m here and I’m with Tina. I’ll keep you posted on whatever’s going to happen next.”
We didn’t speak for a bit. Was it till you came up to Pennsylvania or was it sometime before then?
I’m trying to remember. I think we might have spoken briefly a couple of days before. There was a snowstorm headed. We were having difficulty getting through to the hotel. I guess they had shut down.
Did you stay at our house?
I contacted a hotel. I made reservations. I did a block of rooms. I tried to find out who was going to come and I said, “Whoever’s coming, I did reserve a block of rooms. If anybody wants to get a room, then you can use a room out of that room block.” It was about 4 or 5 of us who ended up staying there.
I think Barbara, Kim, and Lionel stayed there. Chris stayed at our place. Geri may have started there. When the family left, you guys then came to the house for a week or so afterward.
Also, that weekend, I was supposed to go out of town. Zaheer had a business trip and I was going to go with him. We altered our plans. The funeral was on Saturday. He needed to be at the conference by Sunday evening. We drove from your house over to Newark Airport. I put him on the plane and came back and I stayed. I decided not to go so I could stay with you for a while. We ended up staying until Wednesday. We stayed about 5 or 6 days.
It was a good amount of time. What did you think about when you had to leave me?
I was okay with leaving you because your brother was still there. I had already heard the rotation. He’s going to be here until this date, then he’s going to leave, but my cousin will be here. You had a real tag team set up for some time because I was thinking, “I’ll have to go back, but I can come back up.” I was thinking, “When this rotation ends up, if I need to cycle back, I’ll come back.” I felt like you were in good hands. Probably you hadn’t gotten to the point where you were lonely because you were surrounded by so many people. We made sure that, for a while, somebody would be there with you to keep everything from closing in on you at one time.If you are grieving, you may still feel lonely even while surrounded by many people. Be sure to have somebody at your side to keep everything from closing in on you at one time. Click To Tweet
What did you think when you saw me? What did that look like? Do you recall?
I still was thinking that, “How can this be? I can’t believe it.” I thought that you appeared to be remarkably put together for somebody who had lost their life partner of so many years.
My siblings were making sure that everything was being done. They were like, “You’re going to look like this.” I’m not a big drinker, but my girl right here was throwing down the whiskey sours like it was nobody’s business. When my mother handed me a whiskey sour and said, “I need you to,” I was like, “This is so serious.” You were like, “Do you want a whiskey sour?” I was like, “Yes. I like one now.”
She said that. I was thinking, “She hasn’t had my whiskey sours.” She took it right on.
I took it like a champ, too. I was like, “Okay.”
That’s become a thing now. I always make a little stash and put it in a little jar with a ribbon and bring it to her whenever she is in need.
It gets further and far in between, but it is the type of experience that will put you in places that you never thought you would be. I’m not to offend someone that prays it out, someone that goes to the gym and grinds it. They’re quiet. You’ve got to find a vice at some point that works for you, not that you want to over-indulge and do that and then have other problems. It is extremely shocking. That put togetherness was my siblings holding me up in every aspect because that was my first hood. You know how we operate.
Also, you are very thorough in everything. You were in planning mode. You were like, “We’re going to go to the funeral home.”
You went with me for the very first viewing.
“We’re going to do this and this. I don’t like this about it. I don’t like this. I want this, I want that.” You were very focused on planning the ceremony and things like that. That kept you busy and kept your mind actively thinking all the time, so you didn’t have to sit and dwell on the real happening, the real grief, the real loss, and the pain. I saw that a lot while I was up there visiting you because you were surrounded by people. You had a lot of things you had to get done. We started seeing things wind down a little bit after your parents and one of your sisters left and all like that. We were there until Wednesday. By the time we left, the only person that was still there was your brother.
Now you’re past all the busyness of the planning and the reality is starting to sink in and doing everything. I want to circle back. The first time I saw Mark’s body was the night before that Friday. That’s not a fun thing to do. That’s not like, “Let’s go to this party or do something.” Sometimes people shy away. What made you not say, “I’m going to stay at the house. You go do that and I’ll be here when you get back?”
I rarely go to wakes and viewings because I don’t particularly care for that.
This was private. There was nobody there. It was literally just us.
This was a family viewing. I had come all the way to Pennsylvania to be there to support you. It wasn’t about my comfort zone. It was about me being there for my friend to support you and to be there for whatever it is you needed from me. That’s the thing that happens when you have good friends. You can set aside a little bit of your discomfort and a little bit of your anxiety for the purposes of your friendship and making sure that you’re taking care of someone else. The best thing is to take care of somebody else.Supporting a grieving person is about getting out of your comfort zone and taking care of them. Set aside a little bit of your discomfort and anxiety for the purposes of your friendship. Click To Tweet
That is important. If someone is here reading part of this conversation and their friend has lost a loved one, it may require you to come out of your own comfort zone to be there when that person needs it. It’s okay to be able to sacrifice that bit of time and to do that because they need you. That is cool that you don’t know how friendships will evolve and the level of commitment that we have. Some friendships are tighter than others, which means we will extend ourselves more than others. Now you come back to Virginia. I’m in Pennsylvania and I finally get to move back here. What are you thinking then?
I thought it was fantastic. I was hoping that you would get here sooner than that. It took about a year and a half before you moved. We were all ready for you to be here because we were looking forward to you and Mark being here. We knew you were coming, and you had it all laid out. That was the plan. Your kids were going into the military and you were waiting for the last one to leave and then to graduate from high school and all like that. We were looking forward to that. Mark was coming back first. You were going to finish your radiation and all of that that had to do with your breast cancer scare. After that, you were going to come and Mark came up here. He was living in Portsmouth.
You got to spend some time with him.
He came to the house and cooked dinner and watched football with us. He was a Steelers fan too. We did get a chance to see him when he was moving into the apartment. We were supposed to be at somebody else’s birthday party that day. I was so mad at my husband.
I remember he was going on up to Williamsburg to get this mattress.
There were all the mattresses around, but he had to go all the way to Williamsburg.
He made it sound like it was going to be an easy trip when you would come up to the bonfire, “We’re going to go up to this way a little bit to go get something and bring it back.”
My son, my husband, and Mark went up and got the things for the apartment. They had to get that stuff up the steps. I think they carried the couch up.
I remember you telling me about that. It wouldn’t fit in the elevator.
It was a lot going on that particular day, but the goal was to get them in the apartment, help get him settled, and all that. We were looking at it as, “This is the first step. Tina and Mark will be here and she won’t be up there and him here and him having to go back and forth and all like that. They’ll be here soon. They’ll be even close because they’ll be closer to me.” That was a time when I was looking forward to it. It did happen under some horrific circumstances that nobody ever would’ve anticipated. It was very nice to have you here, to have you close, to be able to hop in the car and come over in pajamas, and have a cup of coffee.
Sometimes I would bake a cake, put a picture of my cake out on Facebook or something, and the doorbell would ring. It would be Tina and sometimes her sister. “We came over for cake,” because they would be like, “That’s a beautiful cake.” I was like, “Come on over. Have some.” I thought that that was cool. That’s the kind of friendship or relationship I like. I don’t like a lot of the formality and things like that, just laid back and good times.
You said something I never put together, that Z and Omar helped Mark move in. On the flip side, you were helping with the move-out process.
The apartment, I think that that was something that you did not want to have to deal with as far as going to shut down the apartment that he had lived in up here. I got a call again from Geri and said, “Tina doesn’t want to have to shut down the apartment.” It was the end of March. They’re trying to get out of the lease, “Can we help her out and get everything out of his apartment by the end of March?”
It was the 3 or 4 of us all got together. We went over there and attacked that apartment and boxed up everything. We made decisions, “Tina told us what she wanted out of the apartment,” which was very little. We separated things into things that needed to go to Tina and things that needed to go to whoever wanted it, whoever had expressed a desire for it, and things that needed to go to be donated.
We put them in piles. I went through the paperwork because Mark looked like he got mail. It was stacked up like he had opened it but not processed it or done anything with it. I was going through that to see what was junk so they could be shredded or trashed and what documents and paperwork I thought you would need to have that were there. We did that. I think we did it in a day. We got it all.
Were you in process mode now?
You walked into that apartment.
We looked around, and it wasn’t too overwhelming. It wasn’t that much stuff in it. We made some phone calls about who wanted what because most of us had houses full of furniture and stuff. You didn’t express a desire to have any of it. One of my girlfriends, I reached out to her, and you know her, Terry. She found a student that needed furniture for their apartment.
That was perfect for her.
We said, “It is yours, but you got to get over here and get it by the end of the day.” They came over that evening and picked up the things that they wanted out of it. It was about trying to close a loop for you that you didn’t have to deal with and get everything out of place so that the lease could be terminated.
It was more heavy lifting, more being a friend, and stepping in and doing things.
That’s what friends are for.
We say that as a cliché sometimes, but this is what it looks like when it’s unpacking. I was living in Virginia Beach, and then it got even closer. You have found a house across the street from where you live, but then I was trying to move close to my sister. Is it a mile at the most?
I think it’s almost 2 miles from your house to mine.
You like walking, and so does Z. I have not walked to your place, but Z has walked over here.
It’s an easy walk because when we go out walking, we’ll walk 3 or 4 miles, sometimes more. It’s very close. I very much enjoy being close logistically to where you are so that we can pop in on each other. You popped in one time, but unfortunately, I was in the middle of a Zoom meeting at work because I work from home. I had to go. I felt bad about it too. I couldn’t drop everything off and have a coffee because I was in a Zoom meeting.
I’m not always the most spontaneous person. Usually, I would call and say, “What are you doing? I’m heading your way.” I was trying to be spontaneous and stuff because you say I don’t pivot well. I was like, “I’m going to pivot.” I was coming back from a doctor’s appointment. I was like, “I’m going to slide by to at least show that I have pivotability,” that I can pivot now.
I’d say 9 times out of 10, that’s a visit and a coffee. At that particular time, it was duty calls. I was in the middle of a work call.
If a friend came to you and they were having difficulty grieving and dealing with things, what would you recommend for them?
I don’t know how to answer that question because every person is different and everybody goes through things differently. I don’t have a standard answer to that question. Each situation has to be approached differently as it is presented. I don’t have a script or anything for that.
That’s perfect because grief is literally unique to every person. The grief that you would have for a parent’s passing is different than the grief you would have for a spouse’s passing or a friend’s. That’s an important place to realize that there is no script. It is unique and you can have to take it from that conversation with that person. Talk with them, unpack what that looks like, and what they are grieving. That’s a perfect place to say that there’s no script.
I’ve had friends that have had situations. Of course, how you deal with your own grief is a whole different thing altogether. Two months after Mark passed away, I had a very good friend who lost her husband as well. The things that we did for you, I was able to try to remember some of those things to try to channel that for however that presented in that particular situation. There are differences between how that presented itself to you and how that presented to her. They were both unexpected and sudden. There’s no script for it. It’s what relationship you have with that person and making sure that that person knows that you’re there for them.
That is important, knowing you’re there. Sometimes people will say, “I’ll do anything,” and when they ask you to do the anything, then people skirt back and like, “I didn’t mean that.” When you are dealing with somebody that’s grieving and you make a commitment to them, no matter how uncomfortable it is, you want to follow through and do that. Any closing comments or things you want to share, things in your mind, Alison?
Not really. I wanted to support you in this endeavor for you to be there for people like people were there for you. I understand that 100%. It’s a little out of my comfort zone, but every now and then, we have to exercise that ability to step outside of our comfort zone so that we can do stuff for other people. I’m here primarily to support you and to be there for you because we’re friends and we’re going to always be friends.
Thank you. Thanks for being here.
Alison is so stoic yet so emotional. I love how she was so honest and forthright. Her one comment about how to support somebody that’s grieving and to say that it’s not scripted and you need to meet each person right where they’re at is so valuable. Her conversation about being a friend and willing to take in the hard things to support somebody, even if it makes you uncomfortable, that’s what a hood does. I am sorry for the person in your life that is no longer here that has driven you to this conversation, but I am so hopeful that being part of my hood is inspiring you, bringing hope, healing, and encouragement. I’ll talk to you later. See you soon.