My name Is Stephen and I am Stacy’s brother. At the end of 2019 I was asked if I would be interested in being the Chair of the Inclusion & Diversity Commission and I accepted! Before I get into the Inclusion and Diversity Commission, let me tell you a little bit about my story.
Stacy died in 2002 in a car accident that I was also in. With death, dying, and bereavement, we can often experience a sense of identity loss. Who am I without this person in my life? With their death, am I still me? For me, this was not a question I thought of because I had already been going through a loss of identity years before Stacy died. And by years, at that time, it was half of my life. Let us take a brief pause and I want you to think about what it would be like to not know who you are for half of your life and how that would feel.
Pretty isolating and lonely, right?
And depending on your grief story or maybe within another identity within yourself, you might be able to connect with and understand this and maybe not. Just because we experience similar things does not also mean we have the same thoughts and feelings; however, when we connect to those who do have a similarity, it makes us feel less alone and less isolated. You cannot take my pain away but knowing that I am not the only one makes the pain bearable to live with.
Fast forward to 3 days before she died; Stacy had asked me two questions. She first asked if I had liked girls and I said no. She then asked if I liked boys and I said yes. That was then end of the conversation and we did not speak about it the entire weekend. We just hung out when she wasn’t teaching a private cheerleading camp. Stacy and I had more of a non-verbal connection. We did not really talk to each other much but we shared in the sports that we did (cheerleading, gymnastics, and dance) and had that special bond between her just being my, slightly older, bigger sister.
Being a part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+ community is often and identity I include in my story because I know what it feels like for that part of my identity to be dismissed as something that is not important. Just as I have experienced what it is like to be dismissed as a bereaved sibling. And if you do not know who Jordon Ferber is, you should ask him; how’s your mother?
How many of you have experienced being told to get over it or even asked “why are you not over it already… It has been “two months, 10 years, or maybe you were estranged.” Are you someone who had a miscarriage and been told “at least” – you weren’t further along or it wasn’t a real baby or that it wasn’t meant to be. Or maybe the opposite in that the person lived a long life and you are being told “at least” they made it to 90 or they tell you to look on the bright side. Maybe you are a younger person and people say – you are too young to understand. Well, let me tell you something, grief does not care how old you are. Pain is pain whether you are 2 or 100 and that goes for both physical and emotional pain.
TCF exists so we can connect with those who get it. TCF exists so we can connect with those who have been in our shoes, at least emotionally. Right? Someone else’s grief is not my grief but we all experience the vast range of emotions that range on a spectrum from all of the emotions to feeling numb or maybe even confused and you are not sure how to feel. TCF exists to be inclusive and diverse not only because of the color of our skin but because of the diversity within deaths – suicide, homicide, miscarriage, SIDS, illness related, sudden, child, older adult, young adult, substance related, murder-suicide, missing related, grieving someone who is estranged, step-foster-adopted-raising them as your own, and so on.
The Inclusion and Diversity within TCF exists so that we can try to include and think of those who we might miss or they are unable to come to TCF maybe because of physical ability, language (whether they do not speak English or maybe they are non-verbal or maybe they are deaf), socio-economics, homelessness, mental illness, access, location, LGBTQ+, gender identity, religion, spirituality, education, and anything else related to diversity. And yes, I want to remind you that we are humans to and sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we might miss something and we want you to hold us accountable by telling us if we missed something. Let us all work together to truly make TCF inclusive and diverse.
If you are a bereaved parent, sibling, and/or grandparent and have questions about TCF or about the Inclusion and Diversity Commission, please reach out!
The postings on this site are my own. My thoughts. My views.