Gabrielle Elise Jimenez
When someone you love dies, your life changes in a million different ways. Everything you planned to do won’t happen, and the you that you were with them, will change so much you won’t know who you are or what to do next. Death, and grief, feel much like identity theft… stealing the person you were, leaving you feeling completely helpless, not knowing who you will be or how you will get there.
When I was in my thirties, I lost both of my parents. I was too young then to understand the gravity of this loss. When I hear other people talk about their recent loss of a parent, I hear them use words like “orphan,” which is not something I felt, because at that time I was not close with either parent. I did not start feeling the power of this loss, or the deep impact it would have on me until after I was older, got married, became a mother, and then a grandmother. They missed out on all of that, and so did I. I stopped being a daughter so long ago, I never really identified as that through the rest of my life without them.
I feel robbed.
My son lost his father when he was just hitting his twenties and never really had a chance to build a relationship with him, one that would allow his father's unique gifts to help mold him into the man he would become. He didn’t have his dad at his wedding or for the birth of his daughters. We never had the chance to look at one another and share pride in the man we brought into this world and raised. His dad would be so proud of him, and I wish so badly he did not miss out on any of that. I feel robbed, for myself and for my son.
I have lost two siblings, not truly realizing, or appreciating them for the gift they were in my life until they were gone. Their deaths, seven years apart from one another, left me feeling the heavy weight of guilt and regret for not saying “the things” as often as I could have, or should have, when they were alive. Not making our time together more meaningful, wasting less time by always assuming we would have more. I wish so badly we had more time together, could make more memories, could watch our children grow up.
I feel robbed.
I know many people who have lost their partners way too soon, facing the reality of all their life plans being taken from them, staying stuck in limbo, uncertain of what to do next. Picking up all the pieces of their new life off the ground, struggling with how each piece will fit in their “new” life, worried they might not put them back in the order they are supposed to go. Not knowing what order they are supposed to go.
To me, death and grief feels like looking in the mirror, no longer knowing the person you see, feeling like someone stole your identity.