Since my father died two years ago, I’ve unintentionally been a magnet for stories of grief. People tend to share their outtakes with me, and I pour out my sentiments accordingly. My mom has always said I should be Oprah. Ha! I’ve taken this lamentable subject and turned it into a real conversation piece that yields spiritual healing when I bring it up. The exchange of stories with others oddly helps me come to terms with the truth of the matter and find a useful coping mechanism.
I appreciate the dialogue for various reasons, but most of all, to better understand how we’re all processing grief. Quite frankly, it’s something that I deal with every day as do a league of other extraordinary people. When my father died, I’d joined the ranks after two of my best friends whose fathers had recently died as well. One of which right before she was having a baby and the other just after she’d graduated and gotten engaged. These two of my friends would hold my hand and have my back on my wedding day only six months after my dad died. It’s an enigmatic and supernatural connection that we share. It’s the same therapeutic bond that I share with people who are willing to conversate about grief and growth, as I like to reference it.
As time continues to collect, I see more and more of people I know losing their dads, moms, sisters, brothers, cousins, and grandparents. It’s inevitable. None of us are alone in the lonely, aching moments where we just can’t seem to come to terms with that fact that they’ve gone to a place that we’d like to imagine angelically and perfect. Heaven. It doesn’t stop the innate human sensation of a void that continues to grow as the years go by. You get used to it, but you don’t forget it. Death is the one “bad intention” that happens to us that we can’t seem to forgive and forget. To even think of it as an intention no matter the causes is interesting. We feel like somebody took our people and ran off and left us hanging. YOU CAN LAUGH HERE. Though we know it’s not an intention, it sure does feel that way sometimes, and all we can say is, “Why Lord?” It’s just hard to deal with. Thereof, grief.
The only thing you’ve got is that you aren’t alone. I see more and more announcements of mourning on my social media timelines, and I’m reminded of my own reality, but then I’m reminded of my strength over the past few years. I’ve grown enough to be able to talk about it and cry with strangers. I’ve grown enough to continue working on becoming a better version of myself. I’ve grown enough to know that my loss is really a “gain.” I’ve grown enough to value love at no condition. I’ve grown enough to go full force towards things I want in this life. I’ve grown enough to understand that I’m in control of only a few decisions in this life and the rest, I have to surrender to God! I’ve lost enough and grown enough to know that I don’t have much more I could lose and not be able to handle. So I slide in people’s comments to offer my true condolences based off of my most sincere empathy. As I mentioned before, none of us are alone. We’re all here to help each other. So as you deal with your grief, break down and build up. Break down and build up. Grieve and grow. Grieve and grow. Make this your spiritual mantra.
When I was home for Thanksgiving, I stared at a custom clock with my dad’s picture on its inner facing, and my mom caught me! For a second I thought silly me, why am I staring at this clock as if it’s actually him staring back at me?! Then, my mom said it’ll be okay just as my bridesmaids did on my wedding day. God produced peace in me and let me know that this is not a solo journey. Let me reiterate, that we’re amongst a legion of extraordinary people. So break down and build up bc it’s not on our time, but it is within our networks. We’re all capable of losing somebody. Reach out and share your stories this holiday season. Feel free to write your loved one’s notes and share pictures on social media as if they’re reading them. None of that is silly. Better yet, do all things you think are stupid because you undeniably deserve big tears and stomach cramping laughs.
I met a lady once before that was sharing her story with me… She said, “my husband died the day before our anniversary. The way I envision my grief is that I’m grateful that it didn’t happen on another day. I’m already grieving each anniversary coupled with his death. I don’t want to add another day to the remembrance of this occurrence.” The way she saw it was that she’d miss her husband and be reminded of his departure every time their anniversary would come around, and she was fine with facing that head on. However, she didn’t want to relive those moments again at some other point throughout the year. She’d like to just remember the happy moments she enjoyed with him. This is how she found her peace with grief.
I thought this ideology was particularly relative in that we hone the holidays as heavy times for grief because of the significance and the expectation that “All is merry and bright,” but we’re missing our people. Just as the lady above designated a period of her grief direr than at other times, perhaps we have the power to deal accordingly during the holidays. Taking this time to feel what we feel and examine ways to pattern our emotional intelligence in regards to grief will help us cope better. Decide how you’re going to compartmentalize your pain, but don’t suppress it. Suppressing how you feel is only the fuse to an explosive you. Lastly, share. You never know how your story and how you’re dealing with it can help somebody else in the legions. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We’re all one big network trying to best survive, breaking down and building up through it all.
Love, Jasmine Sweet