Breaking the Silence: Embracing Your Grief with James AlvarezOct 01, 2023
Grieve Leave founder, Rebecca Feinglos, recently spoke with James Alvarez, a widowed father who tragically lost his pregnant wife, Yesenia, three years ago when they were hit by a drunk driver while walking on a sidewalk in Anaheim, CA. James recently went viral for his annual tradition of commemorating his late wife by reenacting her maternity photoshoot with their daughter Adalyn and openly sharing his grief on social media.
Rebecca and James discussed grieving a profound loss in a society that doesn't always make space for it and how grieving on our own terms looks different for all of us.
To watch the complete interview, click HERE, and read three of our favorite takeaways from the conversation below:
"We have all gone through this pain–losing a loved one in our life–why put it aside? Because society thinks that it's not okay to express yourself?"
Grief is a universal human experience, yet society often makes us feel like we should feel shame and hide those feelings. This can leave us feeling profoundly lonely in our grief.
But grief is not something to be ashamed of — it just means we are human. Embracing and talking about our grief can help us grieve and realize that we’re not alone.
"I always strive to honor her legacy through my social media presence. Every year, I organize a special event with the same photographer who captured my wife's maternity photo shoot. We reenact my wife's maternity shoot at the exact same location, during the same season, to recreate those cherished memories as if my wife were still with us. "
Grieving looks different for all of us. For some, grief looks like reading through old texts with our person. For some, grief looks like trying TikTok filters to see your deceased Father. For James, he shares his grief on Instagram and TikTok each year with this beautiful tribute to his late wife.
We don’t have to share our stories on social media to grieve, but talking about our grief lets others know it is normal to keep grieving.
"Sometimes, when I'm driving alone, I listen to my wife's playlist and cry. I cry, and I bet people look over and think, ‘Who is this crazy guy crying?’ but I still cry hysterically."
Whether it’s blasting music and crying in our cars or taking some time to meditate and find quiet, it’s important to find what feels right in our grief, not what society dictates as “right.” James feels that it is crucial for a man to be open and vulnerable when discussing his grief since many men feel like they must bottle up their emotions and “man up” when that is not the case; the grieving process is universal.
James’ courageous story reminds us to grieve on our own terms and to talk about our grief. When we grieve openly, we destigmatize grief and find community as we build a more grief-informed society together.
To learn more about James and his grief journey, follow him and his daughter, Adalyn, on Instagram.
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