Wifeys & Gentlemen,
Today I am featuring a guest series on my blog. This three part piece will explore the sensitive and difficult topic of grief, as experienced through the lens of one of my best and dearest friends. I am so honored that she was empowered to share her, all too recent, story here with us.
Despite just missing mental health awareness month, this timely post offers you both Sarah’s story as well as her guidance and perspective on how to cope with grief when there isn’t really a “how to” guide. Please show her some love and support.
Up until May 2, 2021, my experience with grief was minimal. I have had people pass away in my life, my grandmother at the age of 85, who had lived a full life, and was ready to go. And my aunt, who died at the age of 52, unexpectedly, which for our family was incredibly jarring. You could say I saw grief through a window, watching my cousins deal with the aftermath of losing their mother, but not actually feeling the feelings that come from losing someone you are incredibly emotionally attached to.
Before the death of my boyfriend, Steven, I supported him through the loss of his own mother toward the end of 2019. While she had been slowing down, her death was sudden. What began as a fall on the first night of winter in Boston, turned into a heart attack and 3 strokes. She died only a week later.
I stood by Steven’s side as he had to make critical and unfathomable decisions for his mother. With each passing day, she got progressively worse; letting her go was the only option. Steven and I spent the night in her hospital room as they took her off life support and we watched as she slowly crossed over to the other side. I had a front row seat to Steven’s grief and a glimpse of what it would be like to lose a mother.
Little did I know that only a year and a half later, I would be in Steven’s position, grieving the loss of his life, losing a best friend and a love of my life. That I would be mourning the loss of the life we had planned together, all in an instant.
No one can prepare you for what that feels like.
He was 33 years old when he passed. Everyone who knew him described him as a big shining light, full of energy. Standing at 6’2, skinny, lanky, and the loudest, most energetic guy in the room. He had the most beautiful big-toothed smile with a small gap in the front.
The moment I saw that face, I was hooked. To me, he was beautiful.
Steven was my boyfriend, my soul matè (pronounced like the tea: Yerba mate) this was a nickname he often used for me (among others) with the most recent being, twin flammay (our joke about being twin flames). We had plans on getting married and starting a family, already having our little girl’s name picked out.
We had been together for almost two years, but our experience together was that of a lifetime. We went through so much together in such a short period. We survived a global pandemic, the death of his mother, and even the passing of two friends all within two months of each other. We lived and moved into 3 homes together. Once we met, it seemed like he fit right into my life.
Steven didn’t know everything about being a stepparent, but he tried. His relationship with my son was sort of like brothers; they liked picking on each other, playing video games, rapping and beatboxing together, skateboarding together, and teaming up on me. No matter what, Steven was there for me. He jumped into my life without question. He accepted all of me and it never wavered.
Before meeting me, Steven lived for the weekends.
He could hang out and party with his friends. He just wanted to have a good time with anyone he crossed paths with. While his energy and spirit were larger than life, so were his struggles.
Steven struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. I have a hard time even writing that about him. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that he was a bad person. I know that as soon as someone hears the word “addict”, assumptions are made. We think that addicts are “bad” because of the choices they make, but I can tell you honestly that isn’t true.
While Steven was a lot of things, outspoken, hot-headed, and INTENSE at times, he was anything but a bad person. I personally believe that much of his struggles were caused by his severe childhood trauma. There was a reason why he could come off as “hard”, but I saw though the persona he showed the world.
I got to see, Steven.
Beneath the fiery exterior, he was the sweetest man you’d ever meet. A man who wanted to be loved and accepted for who he was. I think we can all relate to that feeling. He was a fighter and a survivor.
Obviously, we were not the perfect couple. We faced big issues. What brought us together at the end of the day was love and acceptance of each other for who we really were. We both experienced a level of vulnerability where we felt safe to show the dark corners of ourselves to one another. Steven’s life, love, and death have changed me forever.
According to textbook descriptions on grief, as I write this I’m currently in the sadness/ denial phase of this process. It’s been 1 month since he died, and I have cried just about every single day since his passing, mourning all the different parts of him, of us, the life we talked about and wanted to create together. I’ve created stories in my head about Steven still being alive.
Sometimes I pretend that he’s in a coma and his family, in a selfish attempt to keep him on the east coast, faked his death. What if HE faked his death just to find peace from all the pressures of life?
When I asked my friends how plausible this was, they all agreed that there is no way Steven would have left me to live a different life. Period. Though I am far from acceptance, I realize that the man couldn’t go a day without interacting with me. This is all the evidence I need to know he’s really, truly gone.
I think the only way anyone can truly understand this pain is when it finally comes for you.
And it will.
Just like death it is inevitable, so is grief. It’s hard to put into words everything that passes through you when you hear someone you loved dearly has passed away, let alone someone who was in your daily life. Steven was very present in my world every day, for better or worse. I often think about the better.
Usually, my mornings consisted of him loving on me, kissing my forehead and snuggling with our adorable puppy. After he would leave for work, I would hear from him at least 5-6 times a day, telling me about something that just happened at work, something he saw on the street, or sending me loads of funny memes and videos just to make me laugh. At the end of the day, we would have the dreaded couple conversation, trying to figure out what to have for dinner. Steven was ALWAYS talking. Swear to whatever God you believe in; the man wouldn’t shut up! He’d chatter right up to bedtime, where we would lay together, holding each other until we fell asleep.
Now all of that is gone…my home is quiet, my phone no longer rings with his name, my IG DM’s are silent…his presence is just gone.
I hesitate to admit this, but in the months before Steven’s death, we were not doing well. Honestly, we’d broken up and I made the decision to move out of our shared apartment into a place of my own. Our collective childhood trauma combined with his addiction made things very toxic for both of us. He didn’t know how to process his emotions and neither did I. I didn’t know how to help in the ways that he needed. However, the one thing that was there was love. The 2 weeks leading up to his death we had gotten to a place where we were working through our issues and spending quality time together. He had checked himself into a substance abuse program and things were going so well. The last week of his life with me was beautiful. We didn’t argue, we spent every day together, we ate all of our favorite meals, snuggled, and simply enjoyed one another. When he left for the airport to go to a wedding, we both were in a great place and our future together looked like it was going in the right direction. The night before he died, we FaceTimed for about an hour and talked about everything.
We showered each other with so much love; missing each other and making plans for when he’d come home and get started on his program. I was so excited to have him back home and excited for the journey we were going to start together.
When I heard the words, I screamed. My heart began pounding out of my chest and it was like my body forgot how to function. I went between feeling like I couldn’t breathe to outbursts of tears. My son was with me when I got the news. He is such a caring and highly emotional person. It was like he could feel everything I felt, mimicking my every reaction. Memories of Steven were flashing through my head. Everything racing like a flip book in my mind; one that was flipping so fast I couldn’t comprehend it.
Thankfully I have an incredible support system who has been amazing. My best friend Ris has been my rock through all of this, making sure I eat daily, stay hydrated, and making space to meet me where I am. My other best friends, Mrs.Renai and Danielle, came to my side the moment they heard the news. They were present and supportive. While we didn’t say much when it first happened, their presence in that moment was so crucial.
Finally, I am so grateful for my son’s dad, who stepped in to take care of him so I could process everything that happened. It truly helped me better prepare myself to be there for my son during this time. It all happened so fast, and my community didn’t hesitate to help me.
I am truly grateful for all of them ♥️
As of now, I still don’t know how Steven died. As I mentioned, he went to a wedding on the East Coast and spent a few extra days visiting family. From what I currently understand, he went to sleep on a Saturday night and just didn’t wake up on Sunday.
I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t get to see his body. I got no information from the hospital.
So, how do you cope when something like this happens?
Part II of this guest series will be posted next week.
Until Next Time,
Carry on wifeys & gents!
Original blog written by Sarah ❤
In Loving Memory of Steven.