#TellUsAboutThem: 8/17–8/21

unnamed-16I picked up All the Bright Places toward the end of January 2015. I was over a month out from my birthday, weeks out from Christmas, and exactly two weeks out from my mom’s death anniversary.

The winter holidays are always a hard time for me because it’s an avalanche of dates and emotions and people’s well-meaning — but typically not comforting — words. This year I was also going to be adding in my grandmother’s first death anniversary to the mix, so basically from Thanksgiving until March 10th, I was anticipating having a hard time.

Then I opened All the Bright Places. I related to Violet and found comfort in her friendship. I was a little older than she is in the book, but I understood the nuances of her grief — how sometimes you don’t want to use your loss as a crutch, but it’s easier to do that than to have to re-explain things.

Whenever I read passages that highlighted how she chose to wear her sister’s glasses, I would look down at the necklace around my neck that’s been there since my mom died when I was 10.

Our triggers, the objects in which we found value and our loved one’s life, those were all different; but, she and I — we started in the same exact place.

I’d known this to be true in real life — with the people behind the stories that I was publishing on a website I started called Too Damn Young — but when I read All the Bright Places, I saw myself reflected in a book for the first time.

After comments on Instagram, email exchanges, and a sit down with great conversation, Jennifer Niven and I decided that we were on the same team. We wanted to make talking about grief and loss less taboo so that  no one would feel alone.

When we had our first conversation, I’d been doing just this for a little under 10 months through Too Damn Young. TDY is a community and resource for teens and young adults who have lost someone they love. We publish essays and tweet out #TDYConfessions — all small reminders that while no two stories are the same, it doesn’t mean anyone has to be alone.

During our conversation, I shared with Jennifer how one of my favorite parts in the book is when Finch asks Violet to tell him about her sister. The question stopped me in my tracks because it made me realize that, in the last 12 years that my mother had been dead, and in the one year since my grandmother’s death, no one had ever asked me to tell them about them.

For so many, my mom and my grandma were reduced to their deaths.

Jennifer and I decided then and there that we wanted to shift that conversation, and so the idea for #TellUsAboutThem was born.

unnamed-3With #TellUsAboutThem, both Germ Magazine and Too Damn Young will be encouraging those who have lost a loved one to share stories, funny moments, or even just the name of the person they lost — all with the hashtag #TellUsAboutThem.

From August 17–August 21, we’ll be encouraging the submissions of 15-second videos of you telling us about them. You can send those videos here: [email protected].

Then, August 21st will be our BIG #TellUsAboutThem day. We’ll be taking over Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag, making sure that people know that just because someone died doesn’t mean they never lived.

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian NunezVivian Nunez is the founder of Too Damn Young, a community and resource for teens + young adults who have lost a loved one. She decided to create an open space for grieving teens + ya after losing her grandmother during her senior year of college and realizing just how taboo the subject was. You can find Vivian on Twitter and Instagram.

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