March 22nd, 2012
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ABC News

If there is one thing I have learned during my personal experience with grieving, it is that we all grieve differently.

Each of us has our own path that we follow in the healing process and it takes different amounts of time for each of us to work through and find out what we are comfortable doing and saying when we are trying to adjust to the loss of a loved one.

I remember asking myself how I was going to live through this pain, how was I going to get over my loss and what the hell was happening to me.  Your loved one is physically gone but that person is still living in your heart and soul.  It might be very different for you, but I have found that grief tends to lasts as long as it takes you to accept and learn to live with your loss.  For some people, grief can last a few months.  For others, grieving may take years.

I started thinking about this while watching the recent televised interview earlier this month that Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, gave to Oprah Winfrey.  Many news stories speculated that it was too early for her to be talking in public about her mother’s sad and untimely death because they thought she might not be able to handle it.

For someone whose mother died just about a month ago, I thought she was a very poised 19-year-old.  I also thought her interview was a gift to viewers.  When your mother is as big a celebrity as Whitney Houston was, reporters and photographers are around you all the time.  Still, it is not easy to go on television and discuss what you’re personally going through and how you feel.  While she didn’t have to do the interview, I felt that she might have agreed to do it because in talking to Oprah, who knew her mother so well, Bobbi Kristina might have also felt closer to her mother.

And that closeness, that connection, that bond is something we all fight to keep.

“I’m doing okay,” Bobbi Kristina said in the interview with Oprah.  “I’m doing as good as I possibly can.”

Bobbi Kristina revealed very personal and intimate thoughts and feelings about her mother and discussed some of the things that can happen when you are still in shock from the sudden loss of a loved one.  “She’s always with me,” Bobbi Kristina told Oprah.  “Her spirit is strong, it’s a strong spirit.  I feel her pass through me all the time.”

Bobbi Kristina said that sometimes when she is in the house, the lights will flicker a little and she will look at them and say, “Mom, what’re you doing?”  Oprah gently laid the foundation for discussing what a grieving person can sometimes experience when she told Bobbbi Kristina that some people believe “we’re crazy” for believing in “visitations” from those who have died.  “I can hear her voice, you know, and spirit talking to me, telling me, ‘Keep moving baby. I’m right here. I got you.’ She’s always with me,” Bobbi Kristina said.

To take your pain and turn it into a positive experience is a gift to others in the same situation.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a celebrity or not.  Feeling the loss of someone you love is a universal and human emotion.

Watching someone else trying to navigate grief can be helpful.  You feel you are not alone because the other person may be expressing the same confusion, pain and stress that you are feeling.  People respectfully watch a public person in the midst of grief to see what they are doing, how they talk about their feelings and how they handle themselves, many times giving hope to others so that they too can find positives in their lives.

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