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Arbery’s sister dedicates degree to him, seeing him as inspiration

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 8:27 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Now, a two-time graduate of Albany State University, Jasmine Arbery is remembering her brother Ahmaud by stressing the importance of mental health in the Black community.

“This last moment that I was walking across the stage, my little brother was there and to think that he wasn’t there and everything had just changed dramatically,” she said.

“It was a mix of emotions. I was excited, sad, you know, angry, it was just a lot.”

Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by two men while running in a neighborhood in Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020.

And Jasmine remembers all of the emotions she felt.

“It was a complete disaster. For one thing, I was in a numbing. I couldn’t believe that it was happening. I was stuck in a state of psychosis for a long time,” she said.

“But I did allow myself to feel what was actually going on because that’s, that’s the way I believe how you can start your healing process. And what can I say? Healing process is a beautiful but messy situation. You really have to let yourself feel those feelings, feel that playing, and really have a plan of what you want to do and all of that, and I decided to not that not pass the passing of my brother be the downfall of that but that pain and that hurt had to go somewhere.”

She turned to her mom and her oldest brother for strength, but it still wasn’t enough.

“We lean on each other, but I do know that we do have our shortcomings because I gave birth to my first baby girl last year, and her losing a child and me gaining and a child, it is something that we both have to face and she told me all the time, she constantly apologizes, saying that, ‘I can’t help you throughout this process, but I know that you’ve got it,’ and she gives me advice about it. I know she will be there more if this didn’t happen at this particular time, but it is definitely helpful relationship we lean on each other.”

And although they share special moments, she says it is what has helped her want to advocate for those who have experienced a traumatic loss, whether in their life, or watched it play out in the media – like her brother’s death.

“I would like to specialize in grieving motherhood, racism, those things that I’ve naturally felt, you know, and I can really speak from experiences. So this is not a chapter that it’s going to be closed. It’s going to be a continued thing, so I’m really excited for the next step.”

As she raises her daughter, she has every intention to keep Ahmaud’s spirit alive, while advocating for those who look just like her.

“I constantly show her pictures of her uncle. She smiles and I explain who he is and it’s one of those things of mental health is very important, and I want to be that person that she can come to and talk to when she’s having a down moment. Or even celebrate her when she’s having an up moment. I think that the mother-daughter relationship shouldn’t have secrets. She should be able to open up and tell me anything.”

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