We are a family in mourning.
I am a woman in mourning.
As a child growing up Christian in the Mid West, at an appropriate age I was indoctrinated in the rituals of mourning.
Your loved one dies. Everyone gathers in a central location. People bring food. They call on the phone. They come over at all hours of the day. They stay the night so you are not alone.
Your religious leader calls on the family.
Time is spent at the funeral home. People gather. They bring food. They cry with you. They send flowers.
The funeral procession of cars. The burial. The gathering of people, the bringing of food. The tears mingling with smiles and reminiscing of the loved one.
Days later, calling people, talking about your loved one – still eating the food.
Weeks later, tending the flowers and planters, sending thank you notes.
Months later, remembering your loved one and silent tears.
Mentioning your loved one, remembering them. Sometimes there are still tears, sometimes not.
The rituals of mourning are there to give us a thing to do, when we want to do nothing. It gives us a structure when we don’t want to open our eyes and get out of bed. It is there to remind us to eat when we have no appetite because the food…the people bringing the food…they know. They know if they didn’t feed you, you would have no energy to get out of the bed you never want to leave.
We have been a family in mourning for 8 months and 26 days.
And I still don’t know what to do.
There is no ritual for the family that is here.
I was told, sometimes the family takes their days from work.
Sometimes, there is a prayer for the loved one.
Sometimes, there is a time for condolences.
So, since we didn’t know what to do, we spent untold hours online – telling everyone we could find about the truth to the atrocities. We uncovered the lies. We shared the photos that were taken by people in the midst of the fight, facing the gunfire. We debunked the spin.
We cancelled our engagements.
We had a time for condolences.
And then we were told it was dangerous for us to mourn so verbally online. So we stopped.
But there was no comfort in ritual because there is no ritual established for a family abandoned.
Often times in a family where faith, culture and proximity divides the extended family – you are left feeling like an abandoned island. You search for ways of coping without the ritual and even though you see the lifelines passing by overhead, you just don’t have the energy to reach up and grab hold.
Less than 5 days ago, we lost Khaled’s Mother.
It hurts to breathe.
There are no rituals.
No one gathers. No one calls. No one sits with us while we cry. No one brings food.
There is nothing to do.
Its as if our world has been shattered like bullet proof glass.
We continue to work. But the work isn’t fulfilling.
We continue to go to school. But we aren’t learning.
We continue to do what needs to be done, because there are no rituals to observe.
We don’t want to eat, but we do.
We don’t want to get out of bed, but we do.
We don’t want to take care of ourselves, but we do.
We want to talk about our loved one, but no one knows her like we do.
No one here misses her like we do.