I feel I’ve awoken from a hibernation of sorts. In January of this year my beloved grandmother passed away, and I experienced significant loss for the first time. I’m fortunate to have made it 23 years before losing close family, and I’m sad that my younger cousins didn’t have the same years with her that I did. No amount of blogs or “coping with cancer” pamphlets could have prepared me for the grief I felt when she passed, and it wasn’t until now, nine months later, that I could look back on this grieving period with a clear head.
My grandmother was not the first person in my life to be diagnosed with cancer. When my mom was diagnosed in 2014, what shocked me most was that, aside from the mountainous presence that cancer imposed on our little family unit, everything else in life kept cycling on as though nothing had changed. It’s not like that in the movies, where entire plot lines revolve around diagnoses. No, in real life, everything stays the same even when nothing feels normal.
I am and always have been a workaholic. I love the feeling of progress, and so when I’m feeling down I throw myself into work because I know that it will help me feel that satisfaction of accomplishment. When my grandmother passed, I threw myself down the chasm of work with no harness, and successfully distracted you all with my spiky hedgehog outer layer (read: a positivity-centric Instagram feed) while my soft underbelly healed.
Last weekend in Seattle, I experienced peace for the first time since before my grandmother was diagnosed. Many of you know I’ve been working on a large piece of writing for a Women in Tech book series, and that’s why things have been quieter here on the blog. When I landed in Seattle, I planted myself in the hotel Starbucks and finished that piece, and after sending it off to the editor at last, I went to the spa for a facial. The next morning I woke up feeling cleansed – of immediate tasks, facial impurities, and most importantly, emotional burden. It was the first time I’ve felt free in over a year.
Grief is a weighty beast to carry around. It’s big and invisible, and it weighs you down from the inside in ways that are indiscernible to the unknowing eye. After a while, you get so used to carrying it around that it becomes the new normal, and you think that the added weight is just a part of who you are. But it’s not, and it doesn’t have to be.
Working while grieving is not easy. And grief doesn’t just rear its head when someone passes, but in small spurts when dealing with long-term illness and so many other scenarios. My job at Microsoft has been a huge coping mechanism for me over the last few years, and through my lowest moments I’ve been carried through by a strong support system at work. I don’t have a lot of family but I do have a lot of caring people in my life, and that is all that matters. They see the bags under my eyes after the rougher days and pick up the slack when I need help, and I readily do the same for them. That’s what being a team is all about – and if you don’t have that at work, it’s time to invest in your colleagues and nurture those relationships so you can start building your mutual support team.
Over the last few months, my brain and inbox have been swimming in new technology. I’ve been working hard to learn new development skills in Blockchain, AI, Mixed Reality, and more, and have met hundreds of amazing people from around the world. I’ve met with some of the most brilliant minds in computing today, and swapped notes with fellow futurists on our visions for tomorrow. Now that I’ve come out of hibernation, I’m ready to start sharing that with you again, here on TrendyTechie.ca, on Instagram, and on YouTube. As always, I am looking forward to your questions, comments, requests, and hellos.
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Photography by Mateo Yorke Photopathic
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