Thursday, August 24, 2006


I usually don't use names when I write on my blog, but there is no anonymity in death. My co-worker and friend, Tiawanna, died in a car accident on Monday. She had left our agency 2 weeks ago to start her dream job - counseling elementary school kids. She'd finished her masters in counseling about a month ago.

I've had a really hard time figuring out how I feel. I've had this big, solid knot in the pit of my stomach, and I kept wishing I felt more, because I couldn't feel much about anything. I'm not even sure I'll have much to write about this. I may just kind of "free" write and it may not make too much sense.

So Tiawanna and I started at EFA around the same time. She was the psychosocial support coordinator (planned support groups). She came down to our department frequently, because frankly, we're a lot of fun.

Her cube was right outside our testing room. When I needed verification of HIV rapid test results, I'd swing the door open, twist my arm around so the test was in front of her face. "One line or two? (one line is negative, two lines is positive)". She ALWAYS laughed before answering when we went through this ritual.

She would do anything for her clients...anything. She cared so much about them. She defended them like they were her children.

Anyway, after I first heard on Monday, I had the dreaded knot. It was more of the same on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday night I was with some friends and absolutely cried my eyes out. It felt amazing. That's not to say I feel better about a beautiful, caring, 30-year-old dying, but I felt like a bit of me was coming back. This morning we had a couple grief counselors come in for the staff. That made me feel a little better yet. It helped to hear that we were all feeling the same way - we're having problems sleeping, we can't focus, everyday tasks seem difficult, and we're feeling resentful when people who didn't know her talk about their problems.

After the funeral on Saturday, I'm hoping for the beginning of acceptance and healing. The main problem is that this doesn't seem real at all. I keep picturing her and wondering what she thinks about all of this. I keep expecting to see her at the funeral. This is unfair. I feel really sad.

And I have to say, I felt really mad when I noticed the news articles were spelling her name wrong.


Anonymous Pusher said...

Sorry to hear about your friend/co-worker. It sounds like it was certainly a tragedy. You and her family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Hi, Carolyn. I apologize for taking several days to respond to your post. I read it a couple of days ago on my Blackberry; but I can't get past the word verification on the Blackberry.

(Doesn't it sound like "the man" has co-opted me? The Blackberry was my employer's idea — honest!)

Anyway, you're describing some of the normal responses associated with grief. Don't worry about the lack of emotions, etc. I suspect some of that is just shock. And you had already adjusted to not seeing her every day, so it's no surprise that her death doesn't seem quite real.

I have no doubt, your grief is genuine. Don't stand outside of the process and criticize yourself for not doing it better somehow. We all grieve in our own individual way, and the best advice I can give you is, just let it happen.

After the funeral on Saturday, I'm hoping for the beginning of acceptance and healing.

I like that reference to "the beginning" of acceptance. The emotions come in waves, and it's normal to revisit stages several times. You may feel like you've accepted it, then get angry again, then later experience a deeper level of acceptance.

As I've already said … just let it happen. I'm sorry for your loss.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Pusher and Q,

Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. I'm feeling better everyday. The funeral was out of control...the church was filled to capacity and there were over a hundred people on the lawn. Anyway, I feel a new post coming on...:)

11:13 PM  

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