The passing of a person from life to death affects many people; family, friends, and lovers are each touched in some powerful way. The death of a great person affects a community and changes our lives forever. That was such with the passing of Gloria Casarez last month, small in stature but large in action and love for the people she was called to serve as an activist and a leader.
The wound that was left by Gloria’s passing is still deep and wide. But the healing is beginning.
But what form does that healing take for individuals and the community?
Let’s first look at the Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, a series of emotional stages experienced when faced with impending death or death of someone. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
It should be pointed out that “Elisabeth Kübler-Ross noted that the stages are not meant to be a complete list of all possible emotions that could be felt, and they can occur in any order. Her hypothesis holds that not everyone who experiences a life-threatening or life-altering event feels all five of the responses, due to reactions of personal losses differing between people.”
Just like there is not a particular order for the five stages of grief there is no time frame for these five stages to manifest. Likewise, as members of a community we will all be at different stages at different times and our healing process will be gradual.
But how does that healing take place?
First we must be willing to be open about our feelings at the loss of Gloria.
Second, we must be committed to healing as a community and to be open to change.
Third would be in remembrance of Gloria . . . what will her legacy bring to the community? We are not at a loss, we live on to make a difference.
To borrow a cliché, it takes a village. It will take a village/community for Gloria’s legacy to grow.
What form does this healing needs to take place? What would Gloria do? What would she have wanted us to do?
The end of divisions in our community should be a priority. It was Gloria’s wish and vision to see the separate fractions that harm our community unite, be healed, and work collaboratively together for the greater good of our community.
It’s no secret that there are deep divisions and very old wounds among some of our community organizations and leaders but these must end for Gloria’s vision to be materialized.
Gloria Casarez was a great leader of our community and she had a dream and vision for us to be more one with each other. It is time to lay down our differences and heal the past hurts so that we can become the community we are called to be; open, collaborative and welcoming of all.