After comedian and actor Jessica Williams’ boyfriend died, the actress used Instagram to share her personal journey of loss.
Jessica Williams’ career has never been more successful. In the past year, the actress and comedian – who first broke out as a correspondent on The Daily Show and through her podcast 2 Dope Queens – starred in her own Netflix romantic comedy, took on a vital supporting role in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and is about to star in Booksmart and the upcoming Jordan Peele Twilight Zone reboot.
But privately, Williams was reeling from the death of her longterm boyfriend Blaine Spesak on 9 February, 2019. The photographer was in his last semester of study at New York University, where he was completing a Masters in Fine Arts. His cause of death has not been released by his family.
In a new Instagram post, Williams has spoken out for the first time about her personal journey of grief.
“The early days of grief are just so awful,” she writes. “A lot of the advice that I got early on was to drink tonnes of water, try to take a walk outside if I could, and try not to go ‘inward.’ Not going inward is hard because grief literally takes over everything.”
Williams explained that, in the past few months, she would move between various states of grief. “I found/find myself tucked in at home, crying – a mess,” she writes. “Other times I found myself crying, but decent (?!) and spending time with empathetic friends that are good at ‘heart stuff’. A lot of times they helped me by just coming to share my ‘grief space’ (lol, but accurate) with me by listening or talking or playing Overcooked on Switch.”
There were also times when Williams said she was able to leave the house, like the recent Game of Thrones premiere. “Every now and then, I would manage to throw on clothes and go outside,” she writes. “One foot in front of the other, I guess… Thank you to the mostly Virgo women that met me in my ‘grief space’… and pulled me together. I mean it. Thank you.”
This is what loss feels like – a physical space, somewhere that is impossible to understand until you are in it yourself. A space that, when you can, you try to step outside of.
There are those who won’t understand that or can’t comprehend it, and they’re the same people who directed online abuse to 18-year-old Sophie Perry in the wake of her father, the actor Luke Perry’s death this year.
But as Sophie so perfectly summed up there is no one right way to grieve.
“Yes I am hurt and sad and crying and beside myself with what happened to my dad,” she wrote. “It’s the worst thing to ever happen in my life. And I am torn the fuck up over it. But I’m not going to sit in my room and cry day in and day out until the internet has deemed it appropriate for me to do otherwise,” she continued. “And if you knew my dad you would know he wouldn’t want me to. So you shouldn’t either.”
“So to those of you shaming me for my language and my wardrobe and most disgustingly, my grieving process, do us both the favour and just unfollow.”
Grief is private and personal, it is intimate, it is scary, it is wild, it is unfathomable, it is endless, it is hidden, it is a place. And it is not one thing. Thank you to Williams and Sophie for reminding us of that fact.