If I told you my story of trauma and pain, of loss to suicide and thoughts of the same, of anger towards the gaping holes that mental illness patients fall through in our medical system, holes that my loved one was subject to, would you judge me for my emotions? Would you point a finger at my reactions? For every healthy and unhealthy decision I made in my grief, would you support me through it until I found my way? I know you would, because you have.
If I told you of the times when I was beside myself tackling the daunting responsibility of managing my grief while raising a toddler, earning an income, and fighting to make it through another day, would you hear my desperation with a compassionate heart? I know you would, because you have.
If I told you of all the poor decisions I made in my weakest hours, in my loneliness, to silence the chaos of my mind, to numb the demons that haunted me in the late night hours, to sooth the insomnia-tic termites whose noise kept my eyes wide open throughout long lonely hours on nights that dragged on and on, how I would long to stay in bed when morning came not having to rise for anyone, not having to think of how I was going to get through another day, would you hold the poor decisions I made in those weak hours against me, or extend patience and grace? I know you would believe in me. I know you would be patient with me. I know you would, because you have.
Now, imagine instead of a girl you’ve come to know who has been on the receiving end of extended grace, grace that gave me strength, help that filled my capacity, love that delivered hope, imagine instead an entire nation of traumatized victims, native victims, multiple generations who experienced a Holocaust like the Jews, discriminated for their race, enduring the unspeakable, frightened like the New Yorkers who were fused together in one horrific experience of the World Trade Center attack. Why them? Why you? Why me? Imagine entire generations of kids who were forced away from their families, treated as though they were sub-human, striped of their culture, their language, everything they knew, exposed to biological warfare, murders, sexual, emotional, and mental abuse by authorities, kids who were told they could not hug their own siblings, who were taught it was wrong to love, who were subjected to a false Christianity by twisted religious authorities, the kind of religious leaders that had Jesus himself crucified. Can we point a finger at their response to excessive abuse? Can we judge how they have coped with unimaginable loss? Dare we tell them to “just get over it already?” Or do we attempt to understand the inter-generational impacts of loss upon loss with little support for a nation where every member was grieving?
Imagine those kids growing up and, if they hadn’t already been forcibly sterilized, having kids of their own. Imagine them not hugging their own children, not telling the next generation they were loved because the authorities who raised them nailed the message into them that those things were wrong and held dire consequences for those who disobeyed. Imagine the children of those children sniffing gas, drinking alcohol, suiciding…anything to quiet the screech of the demons that plagued them in the dark, demons so powerful they manifested even in the light of day. No escape. Imagine desperate generations numbing the pain of broken promises, stolen land, sub-standard housing in a land that had become rich in resources; resources pillaged from the native land…their land. If we understood the native story, would we understand them? Would we extend grace to them? Would we humble ourselves from the judgement seat and help them rise above? Would we join their voice?
The tainted history of Native Canadians extends not so far into our past. The last residential school did not close until 1996. Not only were lives and culture stolen from the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, but property rights and promises were erased like contracts written in sand. Future generations too burdened to advocate gave birth to generations too unloved to care. The ugly effects of loss are still fresh, and comprehensible to those who understand. The good news? Grief can heal. Change will come. Our Indigenous peoples are finding their voice, and we need to listen. Will you stand for the cause of the oppressed? Will you support the strength that is shimmering through the ashes? Will you risk a love revolution where the next generation heals because we dared to meet them where their at, to listen, to care, to love? I know you can, because with me, you have.