How To Be Tender With Your Grief While Holding Orlando In Your Heart

heart trees

By Danielle Stevens | Co-Founder of This Bridge Called Our Health

your grief is stardust.

vast and kaleidoscopic

elusive, and yet so familiar.

personal and divine.

a dark, stormy, tumultuous and breathtaking rebirth

an emergence

a melancholy ending

and always a new beginning.

As a Black queer woman living in the US, I am consistently subject to terror or the threat of terror upon my body; so when I found out about what happened in Orlando, I felt numb and unsurprised. I read only one article, became sick, and had a nightmare in my sleep. For my own wellness and as an empath, a highly sensitive person, and someone moving through a profound amount of embodied and inherited trauma, my mind, body, and spirit must intentionally be protected from processing the Orlando incident for it’s on preservation. Not because I don’t care deeply about what happened, but because not doing so will make me ill. We have thresholds for pain, and it is absolutely okay to honor those. If this situation is too much for you to digest, that’s okay. We must start creating boundaries for our mental and emotional health and wellbeing when horrific incidents like this occur.

[This Bridge Called Our Health is a two-person, volunteer-run platform for Black women, femmes, & girls, & non-Black women, femmes, & girls of color. We need all the support we can get! Click here to support our work.]

For most of the 10+ years I have been engaged in social justice movement building, there has always been this unspoken protocol to immediately ‘take action’ when situations like this occur. To “take to the streets!”. To “organize now!”. To “not just send love, but to act now!”. These messages can become deeply ableist and dehumanizing, as they fail to provide space for us to grieve in the ways that we need to. Very seldom are we encouraged to disengage from high-level violence in order to mend and heal hearts that have yet again been broken by a fragmented system. It’s okay to choose tenderness for a bruised heart instead of re-watching that video or re-reading that list.

Don’t listen to the people who say you must indulge in the horror of this situation in order to fully process it. There’s no correct way to move through grief because mourning is not a static, one-dimensional, one-size fits all process. You aren’t required to read any articles or go to any vigils or plan any rallies. If you do those things, that’s great! But you can still be committed to social justice if you opt out and chose to create distance from this frightening situation. We don’t have to saturate ourselves with violent imagery in order to be sufficiently concerned people. We don’t have to traumatize ourselves into depression to grieve and connect with the humanity of the people who lost their lives. All of us grieve in such vast and extraordinary ways and that’s a deeply personal process. Honor your own process during this time.

tbcoh photo

Danielle Stevens is a California-born (and raised) educator, writer, dreamer, and community healer. She is the Co-Founder of This Bridge Called Our Health, a community forum for women & femmes of color of all genders to explore, develop, and imagine the infinite possibilities of healing from and imagining a world free of trauma. She currently resides just outside of DC, and is currently engaging in a much needed renewal from 10 years of activism & community organizing. She now spends her time falling in love with her true self, her life, and every single thing in it.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Danielle says:

    I am so thankful for this post. Yes, I’m being tender with my grief and this time, my activism is the conscious choice to hold a space of love in the face of all this. Sending love and hugs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s