You can only read one part of my Traphouse Chicago shirt, but it says “Crime Pays”. On the back, it lists out people like doctors, lawyers, judges, policemen, and doctors, but not you (unless of course you fall under one of those professions).
I bought this shirt about a month after I lost by boyfriend to gun violence. In losing him, I gained a new understanding of what it meant to lose someone to gun violence. I started to pay attention more, becoming aware of the violence in communities around the southside of Chicago. Stories on the news started to affect me more than they did before. I became increasingly interested in the effects of trauma and grief on people affected by gun violence.
And I noticed, no one really talks about the grief surrounding communities constantly affected by gun violence. Even in the communities where death seems normalized, no one talks about what it means to grieve or what the grieving process looks like. People just expect you to move on with your life.
But when it affects you, you start to see grief and gun violence a little differently. You start to see how the trials wear on the people who must attend them. You start paint a bigger picture of the impact on violence within disadvantaged communities.
I can’t tell you about everyone’s grieving process, but I can tell you about mine.
Most of the time I was sad, angry, and in physical pain.
I suppressed a lot of it, but I was angry more than anything. There was actually someone for me to be angry at. Someone stole from me the person I held dear to my heart.
I was robbed and truthfully, I wanted revenge. Selfishly, I needed the people who stole my boyfriend from me to hurt like I hurt, to feel my pain, and to carry my load. I was angry at all the people making assumptions, the people who insinuated that some how he got what he deserved because the bouncers at the club that he worked at were rude, the people who tried to tell me when and how to move forward in my life, and I was angry at myself for feeling this much pain.
Thankfully, I found music to help me heal.
These days, I still hold some of those feelings but I don’t feel them as strongly. And when I do, I use the music to release them.
In the coming year, I plan to dedicate some of my time to work toward reducing gun violence in disadvantaged communities. Now that I have felt the impact of losing someone close to me to gun violence, I can recognize different ways in which I can support others.