October 20th 2016. A whole bunch of things happened.

Snoop Dogg’s 45th birthday. Bruno the Lab was was found after surviving a month at the bottom of a well in Saskatchewan. Trump and Hillary had their final childish presidential debate. A naked man broke into a home in Vancouver to cook eggs. Cleveland advanced to the World Series after defeating the Jays. My cousin and best friend, Alicia Hayman, died due to a drug addiction.

All of those (⇧) newsworthy events deserve some sort of cheer, except one. There’s some good in all of them. But the only one that matters to me is the last. When Alicia passed away, I was angry and bitter, I felt guilty, frustrated and devastated. It made no sense. I started to grieve. I’m still grieving. I don’t think I’ll stop.

Jeremie, Taylor, Brian and I had an interesting chat about grief. We all deal with grief differently. However, we all shared one similarity: in our grief, we have all questioned, and felt bad about, the way we grieved while we were grieving.

When Alicia passed away, I...

  • Screamed at the top of my lungs, alone, at home. Something I’ve never done before.

  • Got angry at Alicia for not being around.

  • Felt immense guilt for not doing more. Not making one more phone call. Not finding another way to be there.

  • Smoked a ‘few’ joints.

  • Wrote, a lot. The first time I wrote was for myself to understand what was going on. That self discovery ended up being a eulogy for Alicia.

  • Cried a lot, but almost solely when I was alone. I have no idea why, but I couldn’t cry around others.

  • Worked to find an answer, a rationalization of why this made any sense.

  • Changed parts of the way I was living my life.  

I felt bad. I felt bad for crying alone, for not being able to cry or feel as authentically when I was in front of my family. I smiled a week later when Phish’s ‘More’ started playing. I felt bad for smiling and finding happiness in a memory of Alicia. Just today, I saw her gorgeous smile on my sisters fridge and looked away. At that moment in time, I couldn’t handle the emotions that would surface if I allowed my mind to wander.

Watching my family was intriguing and eye opening. I have never suffered this kind of loss, and I hope to fuck I won’t ever again. I watched my family grieve in such polarizing fashions. We were all close with Alicia, each of us in a unique way. Yet when we grieved, some broke down and relied on the support of family (though we all probably quietly did), some were the glue that kept us all together and never showed weakness, some grieved by spreading love and holding others and some couldn’t be around at all. It opened my eyes. Grief is a weird, hard, diverse, intangible and complicated animal.

Here’s a little life wisdom I’ve learned. Everyone grieves differently. And then we all seem to feel bad about it. I still feel bad about the way I’m grieving as I write this. We don’t talk about it much. Grieving is ok. It takes a lifetime for everyone. Some of us smile, some cry, some get high. So long as you’re not harming yourself...however you grieve, it’s ok, it’s the right way. Without question, do your thing.

I said that something good came from every one of the events I mentioned on October 20th 2016. Snoop Dogg got to eat some cake and Bruno probably had a warm bath. At the time, it seemed there was nothing good that would come from my news. I no longer think that’s right.

Leesh was a person that shined because of her genuine nature, love of people, kindness and just plain old quirkiness. She lived with a flair that I’ll never be able to match. A fucking radiant angel woman.

Amidst a lot of sadness and tears, so many of her friends and family are loving each other a little more. We’re allowing ourselves to have a little more fun. Taking life a little easier. We’re more compassionate to our family, friends and strangers. We’re loving more because Alicia loved more. It’s a tragedy that she’s not here doing it with us, but Alicia definitely left an easy going, positive and permanent love-coloured legacy behind. That’s something and it’s pretty remarkable. We’re all still grieving, and that’s ok.


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