“An open letter to Vanessa Bryant:
Today, you are going to do something that no wife ever wants to do, and no parent should ever have to do. Today, you are going to do something that not everybody can do.
I know you are tired. I know you are scared. I know you are sick to your stomach. I know your heart hurts and your head is spinning. I know you are confused. In shock. I know it is taking everything you have just to move out of your bed in the morning, even if it means you are literally crawling across the floor.
I know you think you can’t do this. You can.
I know you think you won’t survive this. You will.
I know you think you are alone. You are not.
I remember walking into the church on a warm June day and seeing my husband’s casket at the end of the aisle, draped with the American flag. I remember thinking how unnatural it felt. I remember the thoughts that came rushing to me – this cannot be. He cannot be gone. He was too young. He was too strong. It is impossible that anything defeated him.
I know you are thinking the same thing. Because, it’s all true.
This is not right, and it is not fair. And you have every right to feel that way. In fact, you have every right to feel however you want to feel, whenever you want to feel it. Like so many of us before you, you woke up somebody’s wife and went to bed a widow. That is not something that just anybody can understand. You gained membership into a club that nobody wants to join, and on top of that, the whole world is watching what you do. They have their opinions. They have their theories. They will have their judgments.
And you know what, let them.
Because nobody gets to tell you how to feel, or how to act, or what to think in your grief. There is nobody in this world who gets to tell you what’s normal for you and what isn’t. Because whatever you feel is in fact, normal. However you process this – is normal. Whatever you decide to do for you and your family – is normal.
And, it is okay to not be okay. Please, please know this. There is nothing wrong with you. But know this too – someday, as hard as it is to imagine now, it will be okay to be okay.
Oh, how I wish I could heal your heart. Oh, how I wish I had a magic wand that could make this all better. I am certain there are millions of widows and orphaned mothers who wish the same thing for you and would do anything to protect somebody from feeling the way they did on the day they buried the people they love.
I promise you – you will find the strength you never knew you had. You will find comfort in people you never knew existed. You will shift and you will change, and you will become different. You will find people you can talk to, and you will find people who will know how to sit with you in silence. You will instinctively seek out people who understand. You will find yourself free of the binds of caring what people think and it will be liberating because you have learned in an instant about what is important, and what is not. You will have all bad days at first. And then you will have good days mixed in with the bad, and then eventually, you will have more good days than bad ones. And it will feel weird. You might feel guilty. You will laugh again. And then you will cry. And then you will laugh and then cry again. You might take more chances. You might stay in bed on a Friday. You will learn that grief is just as hard on a Tuesday afternoon at the grocery store as it is on Christmas morning. You will change your routines. You will keep some things exactly the same.
And all of it, all of it, is right.
There are no road maps for your grief. There is no instruction book. There is no right or wrong.
But, I promise you, you will come out of this on the other side one day. As impossible as it seems, you will come out the other side.
And my broken heart will be right here cheering yours along. You are not alone, sister. You are not alone.”
Read Diana’s backstory here.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register of Meridian, Idaho. Her book “Grief Life” is available in print and kindle. You can find more of her books here, and her podcast here. Connect with Diana on her author Facebook page and Instagram.
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