by Kelsey and Sierra
Our friendship began during our senior year of high school during church summer camp. Soon after, we became inseparable. During camp, I (Sierra) shared with Kelsey about losing my mom a few years prior. I explained my struggle with grief and how isolating it can feel. As our week ended, I expressed how badly I longed to go home to a warm meal with family. Kelsey ended up orchestrating a home-cooked meal with her mom and for the first time, I felt seen as a grieving teenager. I didn’t have this burden of loss hanging over me. Kelsey and I have been friends ever since. I would like to think God knew what he was doing all those years ago when he knitted our friendship together. It was as if He was planning for something bigger for our friendship.
We knew then we would be friends for life, but that bond would become ethereal when Kelsey’s dad, unfortunately, passed away a few years later. Ironically, he passed on the same day as my mom, just 17 years apart. Whether dates are important to you or not, to us, it made us realize that grief shouldn’t be carried alone. There was too much irony and orchestration for it to not mean more than just a coincidental date. For years, Kelsey would often help me honor or recognize my mom, as her death date would loom over me. Now, we honor our parents together. Kelsey will not have to navigate her grief alone, nor will I.
Becoming a parent to my daughter blew open doors to my grief I did not know existed. Some days it is the more common things like wishing she was here. There are other days when I realize that I’m having to reparent myself in ways that I didn’t realize when I was a kid. Allowing myself the space to grieve, but also being completely open with my daughter as to why I am sad is a navigation I could never foresee. I want her to see that grieving is normal and has no “end date.”
There are things that have reignited my childlike mindset that was overshadowed by the heaviness of grief I faced at 11 years old. While loss is not something I can control for my daughter to experience, I get the opportunity to teach her that allowing appropriate space for our emotions makes us stronger, not weaker. Even though society tells us otherwise. “Having it under control” all the time leads us to a lack of control when emotions are to surface. I have also learned so much more about my mother within becoming a mother myself. I understand more of the decisions she made as a parent, but also the vast understanding of what a mother’s love is like. Now that I have experienced it myself, it allowed me to bond closer with her. Something I did not think would happen. To know that while she is not physically here, I believe love — especially a mother’s love — transcends all time and space. There is nothing, not even cancer or death that can break that bond of a mother’s love.
Now, of course, all grief is different and no one’s loss is the same. However, having our emotions validated is something that helps us move forward with our grief. It helps keep us grounded when it seems like everything else is falling apart. Talking about our parents’ death has really opened the door to break down that barrier of uncomfortableness we both have encountered with society. Death is something everyone experiences, yet the conversation is still so taboo. The awkwardness people feel when talking about death is so tangible. As we both navigated through our grief, we realized it is not something we want to shy away from. The more we talk about our loved ones, the more they stay with us and the more their memory and legacy live on.
And thus, we created Pocketful of Grief. Pocketful of Grief became a way for us to share our grief stories with a community of other grievers. We wanted our page to be a safe place for those who are on their grief journey where they can read posts or watch our stories and know that whatever they are feeling, they are not alone. Our goal is to take death and turn it into a positive narrative. There is healing in knowing that you’re not alone. There is also healing in speaking about your grief. I (Kelsey) know that by writing out how I’m feeling or the experiences I’m facing, I’m able to process things a little easier. It begins to weigh a little less. It’s allowed me to connect with others on a deeper more vulnerable level. It’s even helped deepen my friendship with Sierra. When my dad died, I instantly felt isolated. Like no one knew how I was feeling. Thankfully (and not), Sierra did. She held space for me to navigate my grief. Experiencing this made me realize that not many people have that support system. Whether or not we could physically be present for someone, we wanted them to see Pocketful of Grief as a soft place to land.
We both believe in the importance of community. If there is anything good that comes from loss, it’s that you end up gaining a group of people who will rally and support you. It’s not a club you ever asked to be a part of, but it’s the most welcoming. Our hope is that Pocketful of Grief will be a place where we can hold space for one another. To ask questions, to listen, to laugh, and to walk through this grief journey together. Grief is the most vulnerable experience. We’re still learning that each day. Opening ourselves up to it allows us to heal. It’s not easy. Some days it will be the hardest thing you have to do. But it’s necessary. It brings us back to ourselves and allows us to become the best version of who we were meant to be.
For more information about Kelsey and Sierra, you can check out their website.
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