"Grief Is Love,” A Conversation with Marisa Renee LeeJul 09, 2023
Grieve Leave founder, Rebecca Feinglos, recently had the privilege of interviewing the author of “Grief Is Love: Living with Loss”, Marisa Renee Lee.
Our conversation left us moved and inspired. Marisa shared her personal experiences with loss and grief, shedding light on the complexities of navigating through the grieving process as an entrepreneur and mom, woman of color, and advocate for grief-informed spaces. You can watch the full interview HERE and read three of our favorite takeaways from the conversation below.
"I feel like when someone you love first dies, there's both this deep desire to make it meaningful and to make it matter. And then there's also oftentimes this desire to ensure that the way in which your grief is showing up, that it's something that is acceptable to other people…[but] I feel like as I've gotten older, I've come to redefine what it means to have a meaningful life. "
Marisa's words remind us that the grieving process evolves as we grow older. She emphasizes the deep desire so many of us feel to find significance in our grief and honor our loved ones' memories– making their deaths “matter” by starting charity initiatives in their name or other ways of grieving that society celebrates. However, these societal expectations often pressure us to conform, presenting our grief in ways deemed "acceptable," or what Marisa deems as “palatable grief.” This conflict between personal authenticity and societal validation can be difficult to navigate, yet Marisa's message encourages us to embrace our unique ways of grieving without judgment, allowing our grief to unfold naturally, even when it’s not pretty and wrapped with a bow.
“If you believe that institutional and systemic racism are real, then you have to be mindful of the fact that they touch every aspect of life, whether we want that to be true or not. It is true.
... it's just really important for all of us to be mindful about what our grief requires and how much of our ability to access those things is connected to our privilege.”
Marisa's poignant words bring attention to the impact institutional and systemic racism have on grief. She highlights the stark reality that racial disparities touch every facet of life, including the grieving process: she also shared that black children in America face a threefold higher likelihood of losing a parent compared to their white counterparts. This sobering statistic forces us to confront the deep inequities entrenched within our society. Marisa reminds us that recognizing privilege is crucial when providing support to those who are grieving. It is imperative to understand the disparate challenges faced by different communities in order to offer meaningful assistance and work towards systemic change.
"I am allowed to have all of these big, complicated feelings about the loss of my mom. I am not the problem. The problem is in how we talk about grief and loss and death and how we treat people who are grieving. And I think it's bullshit."
It is perfectly normal to have bad days, feel anger, or cry. Together with Marisa, we want to challenge the prevailing narrative around grief and how society treats those who are grieving. Imagine what our world would be like if we taught kids that their emotions are valid, that all of the complex feelings they experience are ok, and that grief is not something to be ashamed of, but something that makes them human.
These are just a few of the powerful quotes that resonated with us from our interview with Marisa. Hear more from Marisa and Grieve Leave founder, Rebecca Feinglos, on how they’re both working to build a society that acknowledges and supports the diverse ways in which we experience loss, creating a more inclusive and understanding world for everyone, in the full-length video HERE.
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