By Allie Kilpatrick
I am Allie Kilpatrick, and I am here to share with you my truth. My story is one that’s raw, real, and empowering.
Growing up, I was taught the value of honesty, the strength of authenticity, and the impact of standing up for what you believe in. My journey with grief began on June 19, 2021, when I lost my mother Karen Kilpatrick. In the wake of her passing, I quickly realized the values that were instilled in me were now in conflict with societal norms. The more I spoke out about the difficulties I faced, the quicker I was criticized. Every time I screamed for help, I was inundated with messages of strength, resilience and perseverance. But the truth is, I didn’t want to be any of those things. I didn’t want to be a symbol of inspiration or strength. I didn’t want to put on a facade of bravery and toughness when what I really felt was overwhelming grief.
When I lost my beloved mother, Karen, we had spoken openly about death many times before because my mother was a firm believer in Christ she knew exactly where she was going, making these conversations a bit easier for her. Most of our conversations were meant to prepare me for a life without her, sometimes she would randomly call me for one of her “morbid talks,” sharing everything from her updated will to reminding me how proud she was of me. She never shied away from hard topics, my mom was so tough, and she fought for everything in this lifetime, and she instilled that same toughness in me.
When I was younger, we would love hard and fight harder. I was her spitting image, from looks to personality, yet she claimed she had no clue as to the source of my attitude. When she didn’t like my attitude, she called me out on it, saying I had a “mouth on me.” But when she was proud of me I was no longer “mouthy,” I was just fearless and brave. She never passed up the opportunity to tell me, “It’s a shame you don’t talk as nice as you write. You write so beautifully and eloquently, but you’re such a troll when you talk.” I miss her sense of humor and her brutal honesty. She stood by her convictions and held people accountable, always encouraging me to believe in something or stand for nothing.
As I reflect on my mother’s passing, I came to realize that my grief and faith were the only steadfast companions that stood by me through it all. Amidst the turbulence, they remained the only constant in my life. It is a heavy burden that I carry, but it also serves as a reminder of the love and unbreakable bond we shared and the unwavering faith that I will one day reunite with her again. Her legacy lives on in me, and I vow to honor her memory by being unapologetically myself and never shying away from the truth, even when it’s difficult.
So I took my mother’s advice and I started writing since according to her I was much better at that than speaking. I created a space on social media called Imgrief where I could express myself unapologetically and connect with others who were struggling to find their own voices. I wanted to push back against the idea that grief is something we have to get over or move past, and create a safe haven where people could speak their truth without fear of judgment or censure.
As a naturally creative person, I had so much bottled up inside of me that needed to be expressed. But with no outlets to turn to and my body storing the weight of my trauma, I felt trapped. That was until I discovered the therapeutic power of social media. Through art, graphics, and writing, I was finally able to release what I had been holding in for so long. There was something truly healing about hitting that post button and thinking, “Yeah, I said it!” I didn’t start my social media page for the following or attention, but rather out of a deep need to connect with others who were going through the same struggles as me. I felt abandoned and ignored, but when I discovered the grief community online, I finally found a sense of direction. I knew that my purpose was to share my story and the stories of others so that nobody would ever have to feel as alone as I did.
And let me tell you, it’s been a journey. I’ve experienced more loss and trauma in my life than I care to recount. I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts, I’ve seen the darkest parts of depression, cut ties with family members who chose to mistreat me, lie to me and turn a blind eye, and been abandoned by the only father figure I ever knew. Every time I yearned for independence and eagerly anticipated adulthood, I never imagined that the loss of my mother would leave me feeling like a helpless child once again. All the wounds I had tried so hard to conceal resurfaced, and the chapters of my life that I had tried to leave behind caught up with me.
At 32 years old, I found myself confronted with the harsh reality that I was that same little girl who knew that she didn’t have everything that everyone else had. This time, I couldn’t hide behind a veil of strength or tell a tale of triumph over adversity. Instead, I was forced to relive it all over again, with a newfound understanding of the profound impact it had on my life. It’s easy for others to offer words of encouragement and advice, telling you not to let life’s hardships change you.
But the truth is, these moments have the power to fundamentally alter who you are as a person. How can you continue to view the world with innocent, adoring eyes when every person who promised to love, protect, and keep you safe has walked out on you? How do you maintain your ability to give and receive love without being paralyzed by the fear of loss? These are the struggles I face every single day, and it’s a burden that no one should have to bear. It’s a constant emotional and spiritual battle that leaves me feeling drained and defeated, but somehow, I find the strength to keep fighting. It’s been hell since June 19, but through it all, I’ve remained steadfast in my commitment to being true to myself and my grief. I’ve learned that there is no “right” way to grieve, and the idea of “being strong” is a myth perpetuated by society that doesn’t know how to deal with pain and loss.
Listen closely, my friend. Life is fleeting, and it’s easy to get caught up in the expectations and opinions of others. But let me ask you this: if life is so short, then why not show up for yourself unapologetically? You deserve it.
And for that reason, Im grief.
So I’m here today and the next, to challenge you to speak your truth, own your grief, and fight back against the expectations that society puts on us. We may not have had a say in our losses, but we do have a say in how we carry our grief going forward. Let’s create a world where we can be honest about our pain and our struggles, and let’s celebrate the courage it takes to be authentic in a world that values conformity above all else.