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The Many Faces of Grief: G - I


Guilt, Genocide, Gender identity, Government

On Guilt:

On Gender Identity:

Do you, like a growing number of teenagers, identify with a nontraditional gender label, or do you know someone who does?

The word “nonbinary” became something people asked the internet about around 2014, making a steady upward climb to present day. Gender identity has become an international conversation, especially among teenagers. In 2017, a University of California, Los Angeles study found that 27 percent (796,000) of California youth between the ages of 12-17 believed they were seen by others as gender nonconforming.

More teenagers overall are identifying with nontraditional gender labels, according to a March 2018 study published in the journal Pediatrics. Some progressive synagogues and Jewish communities are holding nonbinary mitzvahs. Nonbinary teenagers are choosing non-gendered for driver’s licenses.

“When we’re looking at trends that we might see in the community of youth who are identifying as nonbinary, what we really are seeing is a community of people who are just accepting the diversity of gender expression,” said Jeremy Wernick, a clinical assistant professor in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at N.Y.U. Langone. Mr. Wernick’s work focuses on gender-expansive children and adolescents.

“Yes, nonbinary kiddos are sort of leading the way in pushing the boundaries of those binary stereotypes,” Mr. Wernick said. “But what they’re really doing is modeling for other young people and adults the reality that gender expression can inevitably have an impact on the rest of the world if things are accepted and celebrated.”

~ Katherine Schulten, The New York Times, April 6, 2021

“The tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible."

~ Anderson Cooper, journalist and TV personality

~ Laura Peretti


Homeless, Hatred, Helpless, Homesick, Hopeless, Human rights, Humiliation, Hunger

On Hopelessness:

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning.

You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.

Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

~ Louise Erdrich

On Human Rights:

Human Rights plays a role in everyone’s life, but not everyone realizes it. It’s involved in every comment you make that includes someone different. Every near discriminatory “joke” you say. It affects people, even if it doesn’t affect you. Human rights means being able to hold hands with the person you love, work where you’re qualified to work without your skin color or sexual orientation being the reason you can’t; it means having the right to be human, making choices and mistakes. Every day I hear comments being made about this being “gay” and other comments about that being “retarded.” There are an estimated 1,019,729 words in the English language. What I don’t understand is why these words are chosen to describe something meager or something that lacks quality. Society has gotten to the point where people think it doesn’t matter what they say, that they think their comments and hate don’t affect other people. Humans are often hurtful towards each other, but I believe we all were born with innate compassion and love. These days, I see parents showing their kids what to think instead of how to think. I see people not being able to marry someone they love because they are the same gender, even though it is acceptable to marry someone then divorce the next day. People say gays aren’t socially acceptable, but the thing is, slavery was once the norm. So, what does that say about our community in Juneau? I hear and see this type of thing every day; people being ignorant and neglecting the notion that all humans are equal. I wish I didn’t see bias and prejudice, but I do. I often witness people in Juneau, young and old, ignoring the fact that we’re the same. Humans aren’t born racist, homophobic or sexist. We were born equal. So why is it everyone is bent on believing that one life is less important than another? Why is it a person high up in society can get away with something other people can’t? How is that equal? Why is one religion “correct” while a different one is frowned upon? What gives other people the right to decide who I wanna be and what I want to do with my life? I don’t believe in God, and I’m constantly being told that I’m locked out of Heaven for it. But who knows what happens after we’re done here? That’s right, no one. So, I’m basically being held back by people who honestly don’t know any more than I do about it. The right to be who we’re destined to be belongs to everyone, not just people who are favored or socially acceptable. I can look around and see a flawed humanity. My one hope is to see that change. Because we may be different on the outside, but we are all human. Nothing else should define us. not race, sex, or sexual orientation.

~ Alyssa Nauska, 8th grader, Juneau, Alaska


Incarceration, Illness, Isolation, Infertility, Intimidation, Injustice, Identity, Inflation, Inequality

On Incarceration:

Shelley Winner was introduced to alcohol by her dad at age 11. Her drug and alcohol use grew from there to trafficking in drugs in her 30s. She was arrested and received a 4-year sentence in a federal institution in California. Believe it or not, it turned out to be one of the best things to happen to her. She got clean, gave birth to a wonderful baby boy and now works for a high-tech company. She advocates for formerly incarcerated people around the country.

Shelley Winner is a Restorative Justice Activist whose goal is to change the world, reduce crime and advocate for justice involved people all while helping companies improve productivity and revenues. 76% of people released from prison will re-offend and return to prison; this is called recidivism and Shelley is working to turn the tide on this statistic. Someone has to challenge the societal stigma that prevents companies from hiring people with criminal records and Shelley has taken up that mantle. Her fight for this cause has changed the hiring policy and practices for one of the largest tech companies in the world, who also happens to be her employer. Winner, a technology specialist, is very active in the restorative justice movement in San Francisco and wants to educate the public about the benefits of hiring the formerly incarcerated.

~ Tedx FondduLac

On Identity:

I met you, Grief, for the first time when I was ten

You were disguised as anger

About what, I don’t remember

It was winter and my 10th birthday

We were moving

I ran away in the snow

But I got scared and let them find me

There’s the story right there

Anger – Leave

Pretty simple

But you came back

So I kicked the dog

Until she whimpered

There was nowhere else to go

Nowhere to put you

No one to tell

I hit my horse

And she got mad at me


Grief is me

Grief is my identity

I hold on so tight

What would I do without you?

I’d have nothing

But yet, there’s guilt and shame

Are you one and the same?

You pull me

I follow you

But I don’t see

What’s good in you

You, Grief,

You bring me down and under

You hold me

You’re my friend

My anchor, my home

Warm and familiar

A safe place to rest

I wrap you around me

Up to my neck, tight

It’s hard to breathe

Is there air in here?

Can I please leave?

It’s too uncomfortable

Didn’t you say

You wanted to stay?

Is there a place

Empty and numb

Where I can curl up

And not be bothered anymore?

Billowing black

Out of old rusty fuel stacks

Blowing through the emptiness

Wafting, floating, dissipating gently

Whispering, are you there?


It’s time again

You’re mine again

Come sleep with me

Wishes don’t work here

Promises are broken

Dreams are dead

Why can’t I make it right?

What replaces the energy and fire of youth?

I’m going to die

There’s no escape

I crawl into my shell

Like a snail

So dark and cozy and safe

I’m paralyzed

Others walk and talk and live

While I watch and listen

All I do is listen

That’s all I do

And chip away

Bit by bit

At my little self

A tiny piece rides away

On the back of every story I hear


“How terrible to think of not being the hero of one’s own life. This is the role for which each of us is cast, no matter how unsuccessfully we play it. Man is not here on earth by accident, but for a purpose, and that whatever that purpose may be, it demands from him the discovery of his own meaning, his own totality and identity. A human being is born to set out on this quest, his quest, like a knight of Arthur’s court.”

~ D.M. Dooling

On Isolation:

Grief seems to me like a winter house: guarded, sheltered against an outside world that’s expected to be difficult. The windows are small to keep out the cold, and little light gets in. The darkness and warmth make a cozy place to hide, to nurse wounds, to incubate what is not yet ready to be exposed.

~ Janet Cedar Spring