This was the exact sort of update I never wanted to write.
Back in 2017, I wrote “What Nobody Tells You About Grieving“as a way of dealing with feelings of losing a beloved pet and all the things it brought out about losing my father and grandmother over the years. At the time, it felt like it was going to be the last thing I needed to say about grief for a while.
And then it wasn’t.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this year has been a shit-show for everyone. Between the pandemic, the lockdown and the election, 2020 has felt like chaos personified. But for all of the stress, headache, heartache and confusion… I’d been one of the lucky ones. I’ve been in a privileged position where things were tough, but I wasn’t at risk of losing my job or my home. I hadn’t lost family members to the QAnon cult. While some of my extended family were Trump voters, things hadn’t devolved so far that it felt like things were hopeless or that there wasn’t a way back for them. And while COVID touched friends and family members, I had been lucky enough that nobody had died from it. While some friends were and are dealing with the long-haul effects of COVID-19, I have been blessed with the fortune of not having lost loved-ones. While there were losses and we all had to learn how to deal with funerals at a time when it simply wasn’t and isn’t safe to go… there was some comfort in that they were losses that were a long time coming. Something that you could prepare for, something that you would functionally mourn in advance, even if you couldn’t be there with your friends to support them or receive support.
And then things started to seem like they were turning around. On Friday, it was starting to become clear that the nightmare of the Trump presidency was coming to an end. On Saturday, it was official: the election was over and Biden had won. On Sunday, we were going to have a small celebration with members of our family by choice, friends who were part of our quarantine pod. This was an important thing for us, especially as some of our friends in this group had to disown their biological family for their toxicity and hate.
And then I got the phone call. My friend Bert Belasco had died suddenly and without warning. He had been found dead in his hotel room in Virginia, where he had been quarantining while waiting for production to start on his new series.
As I write this, we still don’t know for sure what the cause of death was; the best guess is an aneurysm, but we still don’t have any answers. All I know is that 2020 reached out with one last suckerpunch on the way out the door and my world turned upside down.
And so now I’m sitting here, trying to process my feelings in public. I want to say that I’m doing this because I feel that it’s important to talk about loss and grief. That we’ve all shared in this monumental loss, as more than 200,000 Americans have died during this pandemic.
But if I’m being honest, it’s because right now I’m in a lot of pain. Someone great left us and I want people to know about it, damn it.