Growing up I was a “grandma’s girl,” loved beyond measure. She was my person and was so proud of me. My family would say that I was attached to her hip, because if you saw her, you saw me too. We connected on so many levels, but food was our biggest love language. I learned so much by watching and helping her in the kitchen. My favorite part was eating, and this may still be my favorite part to this day.
I was in my 20’s when she died 13 years ago. I remember talking to her on February 13th, the day before she died. I remember hearing her laugh through the phone and each of us saying “I love you” before ending the call. That was the last time I heard her laugh, the last time I heard her voice. The next day, I woke to my doorbell ringing and too many texts and voicemail messages to count. I knew something was wrong. My cousin delivered the news as I fell to the floor, shocked and in disbelief.
I got dressed and went to work. I didn’t really know what else to do. I certainly wasn’t productive, I wasn’t me. How could she be gone? I had just spoken to her. For a while, I stopped celebrating in February (my own birthday is also in February). I didn’t go home for holidays or family gatherings. How do you celebrate when your person is gone? Even now, nothing is quite the same. Food just doesn’t taste the same. Holidays are different. Going home feels weird. A piece of me is lost.
But, of course, my grief had changed over time. I have started celebrating again. I make it a priority to take myself to lunch or dinner on Valentine’s Day to celebrate her life. It feels right to celebrate her through food. I still find this month to be so difficult to navigate, but life goes on. As I grow, I continue to see pieces of her in me and the world around me. I find comfort in knowing that I was her girl and that she would be proud of the person I am today.
In honor of February–which includes my father’s birthday, my own birthday, the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and Black History Month–I wanted to highlight a couple of grief-specific books I love by Black youth and adult authors.
This book is written by an eight-year-old Nasiyah, who writes about her grief journey as she navigates her feelings and learns how to cope with loss.
This book encourages children and adults to have open and honest conversations about death by providing discussion points, grief skills, and activities.
This book is for adults who are navigating a loss and wanting a deeper understanding of grief and how to cope. The guide provides sections that help the reader explore: grief, how to talk to children and teens, navigating social media, and more.
Brie Overton, FT, LPC, NCC, is the Chief Clinical Officer at Experience Camps. She is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri – St. Louis in the Department of Counseling and Family Therapy, where she educates and supervises master and doctoral level students on grief-specific issues in counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and specializes in anticipatory loss, grief and bereavement, life transitions, and working with underserved populations. She is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and has worked as a clinician and Clinical Director for Experience Camps since 2016.