Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making a Place at the Table for Grief on Thanksgiving

When I was asked by one of Blake's friends to write about grief during the holidays for Buzzfeed, I felt really honored. First of all, I was so glad they were putting something together about such an important topic. I had been thinking about how this holiday season would be especially difficult, so writing gave me the opportunity to dig deeper into those feelings. I felt like this article could be a great platform to both read other people's insights and strategies as well as share my own.

It came out today, I read it, and unfortunately, I was disappointed. 

I really don't know how articles like these work, but I was surprised to see that my words were changed around and some were omitted. I figured that the author would use what I wrote as is, unless he checked with me first. But the most upsetting part wasn't a correction or deletion, it was an addition. After the sentence where I explained my boyfriend Blake died, he tacked on "from a heroin overdose" to the end.

When I wrote my piece, I purposely left out the cause of Blake's death. It's not because I'm embarrassed or ashamed (his family and I have never tried to keep it a secret) it just didn't seem to fit the premise of the article. I never mind if his overdose or addiction are mentioned as a way to teach people, but in this context it just seemed like a gratuitous insertion for shock value. I was under the impression that the article's focus was how to be thankful during Thanksgiving in spite of grief, not drudge up the circumstances of the deaths. 

After I allowed myself to vent to my mom and Blake's friend for a little while, I realized that focusing so completely on one tiny aspect of the article stopped me from seeing the bigger picture. Yes, some of the things I wrote were changed. Yes, something was added that I felt strayed from the point. But not only did I get across my gratitude for the friends and family Blake brought me, there were also 12 other beautiful stories shared. As I read them, I started crying. Although everyone went through a significant loss, each person found a way to make the holiday special by honoring their loved ones' memories.

I ended up sharing the article on my Facebook (which was something I originally decided against because I was mad). I realized that regardless of my individual contribution, I am so grateful to be a part of a really important piece with a comforting message. I wanted anyone who has lost a relative, parent, child, sibling, friend, or significant other, to read these stories as a way to inspire and help them get through the holiday season. 

Here is the article:


  1. I am a BuzzFeed fiend- I am always browsing it when I should be working. This morning I came across the article and when I got to your post (I didn't know it was yours), something clicked and I knew exactly who it was about. You continue to inspire me through your courage and strength.

    When my boyfriend died, the newspaper at his University wrote an article about him and they got some facts wrong and mislabeled a picture ... I was surprisingly upset about it. It look me a while to get past it and focus on the incredible words that they chose to describe Alex.

    Thank you, once again, for sharing your story<3

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Ahh that's so funny you came across the article on your own. I'm a little embarrassed of it because the way he edited what I wrote made mistakes I'd never make. I am pride myself on being a good writer, so this made me more upset than I probably should have been.

      I can totally understand why you'd be upset that the newspaper got things wrong. At least in my case, I felt somewhat powerless because of it. At least when I write, I get to say things the way I know them to be. It seems unfair that they didn't check with you or another reliable source before they put it out for the world to see. But I'm so glad you were able to see the bigger picture in the whole thing. That's what I've tried to do... even though it's hard.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Sara! I hope you have a great day :)

    2. Hahaha I just realized I was upset about the author making mistakes I'd never make because I pride myself on being a good writer and in that sentence I made an error. I guess that shows that I shouldn't take myself (or my writing skills) so seriously.

  2. lol Sorry but the first paragraph you commented as a response to Saras made me smile.
    You are a fantastic writer, you always relay your thoughts respectfully, accurately, and honestly with grace. That should have been enough for the publisher of this article; taking your words (without the overdose) and putting them as-is on the site. Saying how he passed without permission is so disgusting. Like mentioned.. used for shock value. When you are ready to have something like that published you should say that in your own in your own words .. I know you are ready and say it now but that doesnt make it ok for people to put those words in your mouth. This article was a different opportunity for you to speak about his death and how it helped you gain people, that you are still thankful for thru his loss of life. The fact that overdose was mentioned without that being said is hurtful. It causes such uneasiness on everyone who doesnt understand. It causes you to look like a pity party of one (sorry I DO not look at you like that, I was just told from a good friend thats what my FB posts looked like, you are not in any means in that category) , it causes people to completely miss the moral of the story because that image is in their head. That wasnt your intention and its unfortunate!! It wasnt Bs either. Love you!!

    1. After a few people took my openness about Blake's overdose the wrong way, I have become very sensitive to how I bring it up and in what context. As much as I wish it wasn't the case, hearing that he died from drugs makes some people automatically judge him. I don't blame them, because I used to be the same way before Blake died. Without the proper understanding, it's easy to dismiss him as just an addict who got what was coming to him. I don't want anyone to ever think that about him, so when I bring it up I always do it in a way that shows more of what an amazing man he was despite his struggle. In this article, his overdose was brought up without my chance to also give more context. I think it upset me so much because of that.

      You and I know all too well how people judge. How people think we are ridiculous for mourning men who died the way they did... as if the way they went somehow negates all of the amazing and inspirational things they did while they were living. It's really tragic that people think that way, but we have to remember that it's only because they don't understand. I hope that through us people understand even a little bit better.