Growing up I listened to Whitney Houston’s music, pretending I was her as I belted out “I Will Always Love You.” I think I saw the movie ‘The Bodyguard’ a total of ten times, watching it again just after she died.
As someone who counsels others when a loved one dies, I thought of her family and her daughter often in the days and weeks following her death. I wondered how they were coping, having their grief and Whitney’s death become such a spectacle. I began to think of what I would say to them, if I could..and I wrote the following letter, mostly to Bobbi Kristina.
To Whitney Houston’s Family,
We do not know one another and yet I can’t stop thinking of how hard this time must be for you. I am a grief counselor at a hospital and have experienced personal grief, but I have rarely had to deal with a death in the spotlight as you all are doing now. My prayers for you include the space and safe place to let down and feel every emotion you need to.
The hardest part about death is the finality. The “no more’s…” No more holidays together, no more phone conversations, no more hugs. Yet part of our mind yearns to hold on to the possibility that there is some chance we may all of a sudden wake up and realize all of this is just a horrible nightmare. When I lost my brother to suicide, I found myself looking for him in the grocery store, in his car, anywhere. Even years later. Part of me held out hope that somehow it was just an awful mistake.
There are no answers to all of the pain and sorrow you feel. There are no rules to grief. It is one of those mazes in which you simply must see which way works for you. There is no right or wrong way. There is just the way that goes straight to the heart of what you feel and what your heartache needs. Above all, be easy on yourself during this time. Drop the judgment of yourself and those around you. Let others grieve in their own way and you find your path. Lean into the pain when you are able—allow yourself to process and express as much as you can; other times, ease off and take a break from the intensity.
When I think of Whitney’s many public struggles, I wonder if above all the greatest thing you can do for her is to honor and remember her for all of the beauty she gave this world. However her personal problems affected you will surely come out in your own grief process yet, in the end, the highest honor you can give her is to take your own high road. Find your own center, the place where you are healthy, and live your life in a way that she always wished she could have.
After all is said and done, all one really has to give is honoring and remembering the one they’ve lost. Whitney was an exceptionally gifted woman. She was beautiful, and no matter what emotional state she was in, there was a vulnerability to her that drew so many to her.
I know you have said you feel her, Bobbi Kristina. I hope you continue to feel her. I believe that there are so many things she still has left to tell you. She must ache to hold you again, to touch you and tell you how precious you are to her. Maybe she tells you those things even in her death. I hope so.
You will likely never see this. I write it mostly for myself, because it sits inside of me and waits to be said. Maybe it will help someone else in need. I hope you know that the world thinks of you and grieves with you.
Allison Daily 2012