They became activists following the losses of their loved ones.
There is no clear-cut formula on how to grieve, especially as it pertains to mourning the loss of a partner. The world has rallied around Lauren London as she continues to share her love for Nipsey Hussle after losing him just weeks ago, and to help offer support and words of advice are two women who know all too well what it's like to lose a loved one.
In 2006, Nicole Paultre Bell was neck deep in planning her wedding to her fiancé, 23-year-old Sean Bell. However, before the pair was able to walk down the aisle, Sean was killed by the New York Police Department after they shot at him as he left his bachelor party. “I’m replaying now everything that I went through the day I got the call and found out that Sean had been killed on my wedding day,” Paultre Bell tells theGrio. She said her thoughts instantly turned to London. “Immediately it was just like, ‘Oh my God, how is she going to pull through? How are the kids going to pull through? I don’t even know these people but I can feel them?”
Pultre Bell later remarried, but she did take Bell's last name and never walked down the aisle. Another woman, Shenee Johnson, spoke with theGrio about losing her fiancé Shon. She was two months pregnant when he was shot and killed as he drove a friend to work. “I waited so long to finally meet another man and now they’re telling me on the phone that he’s dead and I’m only two months pregnant,” she said. Johnson also shared there were people who advised her to get an abortion.
“I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do," says the mother who also lost her son to a shooting. "But the one thing I knew that I was going to keep this life inside of me. I didn’t think of the hows, whens, and wheres. I really didn’t. I just wanted my son." She, like millions of others, was devastated by the news that Nipsey was murdered. “Hearing what happened and seeing what happened to Nipsey and his family, I immediately started thinking about his children, Lauren, and his parents. It just sent shock waves. They[‘re] all triggers.”
Having endured similar losses, both gun violence activists offered their advice to London during this trying time. “I would encourage Lauren London, and his mom and family to keep them themselves surrounded by the people that are going to lift them higher because that’s how you make it,” said Johnson. “I would also like for people to also, even when it’s not in the headlines and when it’s not so popular, we keep going."
“The pain doesn’t ever leave, you just learn how to live with it,” said Paultre Bell. “We find other ways to channel our strength and that may be through speaking. And that may be through forging alliances with other women who have been through it. Sometimes an idle mind is a devil’s playground. So remaining busy, but keeping healthy. If you’re feeling sad and you’re down, you’ve got to reach out. If it’s not a therapist then you have to reach out to someone who has been through what you’ve been through,” she explained.
“There is no one answer. You know. This is what you do to get over your grief. You have to do several things. And she needs the world to support her right now. Strength is showing up. Just one day at a time. One day at a time.”