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Ty Alexander: Things I wish I knew Before My Mother Died

For the past eight months, I’ve been staring at my laptop while actively thumping the letters on my keyboard attempting to complete some kind of sentences (read: I’ve been pretending to write this book). From the moment I was approached to write a book, I managed to talk myself out of all the reasons why I should write a book. Writing a book is really the most logical step for me since I do consider myself a pretty accomplished blogger (not so humble brag). I’ve been doing this for six years. I’ve managed to cultivate my little space on the Internet into enough income to pay for the overpriced box me and my boyfriend rent to live in New York. I’ve even got a few contributors for my blog so that I can take advantage of those last minute flight deals to travel whenever I feel like it. My creative director friend will tell anyone that I am one of the best copywriters she’s worked with, and yet still I feel like a fraud. I have developed a serious case of impostor syndrome. My daily writing routine involved typing a few paragraphs and then deleting them all. I’d do that for about four or five hours. Then I’d wake up the next day and start that process all over. I kept asking myself, “Why am I even writing this book?” And I’m for certain that some of you will ask: what makes her such an expert? Am I an expert?

Well, here’s my story. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and died within that same year. I found myself aggressively riding on the horns of depression. And I promise you, that ride was an epic fail wrapped in some sort of poisonous chemical that likely resembled arsenic. Somewhere along this journey, I acquired extra body weight equal to the size of a baby panda—except I was not nearly as cute. I didn’t sleep. I was really close friends with 3 a.m. I couldn’t let a day pass without waiting up for her. I was moderately attached to my bed, at least until 2 in the afternoon. When you are grieving, no one tells you that there isn’t a magical yellow brick road that you can follow to return to your normal life. No one tells you that your normal life is gone.

Because what was normal to me was gone, depression kicked in.

To me, depression seemed like a trivial experience, a defect of human nature. Being depressed just never made any sense to me. It’s feeling everything but yet feeling nothing at all. And I didn’t understand why you couldn’t just ignore or get over all those contradictory feelings. That is until depression happened to me. Depression feels like being stuck on a huge ship all by yourself. And that ship has been parked in the middle of an ocean for what feels like months, maybe even years. And that ocean is filled with self-pity, anxiety, misery, fear and then sprinkled with a little self-doubt for added effect. Everything about depression is inconvenient for you and for me. That’s what depression feels like.

From the moment my mother realized she’d rather die than fight cancer, I decided I would document every emotion I had because… I’m a writer. That’s what we do. Plus, my mother and I were so close. I was her Blue Ivy; she was my Beyoncé. I didn’t know what else to do but to write. I didn’t realize that I was secretly planting the seeds I needed for this book. Now I have notes scribbled everywhere and on everything. Millions of drafts are saved in my Evernote app. Post-Its are strategically placed all over my desk, the fridge and on the mirror in my bathroom. There are bits and pieces of my experiences in different journals all over my room (because the same journal was never available when my thoughts arrived). My thoughts are even left on semi dirty napkins stuffed in those random notebooks. Excuse me while I make sense of my thoughts for this book.

But despite all that I have been through, despite that ship in the middle of the ocean I had been chilling on, it’s becoming clear to me that my mother’s death was not entirely damaging to my existence. At some point, I stopped being mad at cancer, my dysfunctional kinfolks and myself and realized that her death had become a series of life-enhancing lessons and gifts. Life had served me the biggest bittersweet cupcake it could find.

This book represents 153 pages of life revelations that I would not have ever known existed without losing my mother. And that fucking sucks. It sucks that I had to sacrifice so much to learn these lessons. It sucks that it took me so long to get here. And to be perfectly honest with you, I’m not even sure where here is. I just know that here is better than that ship that was parked in the middle of an ocean, for what felt like months, that was filled with self pity, anxiety, misery, fear and then sprinkled with a little self doubt for added effect. So to answer my own question— and maybe yours—that’s why I decided to write this book. I don’t claim to be the expert on grief but I’m an expert at my own grieving. Hopefully, you can learn something about yours from reading about mine.

Even though I don’t know you personally, I don’t ever want you to feel guilty about leaving the state you grew up in to pursue your dreams while your parent wilts away from cancer. Oh wait sorry, that’s my guilt, not yours.

The point is, after reading my book I just want you to feel the gratitude that I do now. I hope that my book teaches you to be a bit more patient with your grief. I’m hoping that my words, my truth, will grant you that mustard seed of faith you need to survive your own grieving process. And because I know grief may have hijacked your heart and soul, I hope that you allow my book to teach you how to love again. I hope my book inspires you to live again. And most importantly, I want my book to give you the permission you need to love and forgive yourself for everything you did or didn’t do.

Because Heaven stole our moms, you and me, we’re a part of this motherless tribe. So I want you to stand tall in your truth and live far beyond your fears.”

The grieving process: Ty Alexander of Gorgeous in Grey is one of the top bloggers today. She has a tremendous personal connection with her readers. This is never more apparent than when she speaks about her mother. The pain of loss is universal. Yet, we all grieve differently. For Alexander, the grieving process is one that she lives with day-to-day. Learning from her pain, Alexander connects with her readers on a deeply emotional level in her debut book, Things I Wish I Knew before My Mom Died: Coping with Loss Every Day. From grief counseling to sharing insightful true stories, Alexander offers comfort, reassurance, and hope in the face of sorrow.

Coping with loss: In her early 20’s reality smacked Ty in the face. She was ill equipped to deal with the emotional and intellectual rollercoaster of dealing with her mom’s illness. Through her own trial and error, she found a way to be a caregiver, patient advocate, researcher, and a grieving daughter. She wrote Things I Wish I Knew before My Mom Died: Coping with Loss Every Day to help others find the “best” way to cope and move on, however one personally decides what that means.

Mourning and remembrance: In the chapters of this soul-touching book, mourners will find meaning and wisdom in grieving and the love that will always remain. Each chapter is a study and lesson in coping with loss:

  • Chapter 1: We’ve been duped, everyone dies!

  • Chapter 2: The truth about my moderately dysfunctional family

  • Chapter 3: The Art Of Losing

  • Chapter 4: The how of grieving

  • Chapter 5: How to be obsessively grateful

  • Chapter 6: Dear Mama


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