When I was first approached by Strut’s editors about writing about my most recent experience with grief, I won’t lie it made my anxiety peak a bit. Many of you noticed I took a hiatus towards the end of last year. On October 23rd, I lost one of my closest friends, Najah, and it shook me up badly. Two weeks later, my very best friend Kyra (who was residing in Tallahassee) fell ill unexpectedly on November 10th. I dropped everything and went to her bedside, where she was in a vegetive state until she transitioned on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th.
My Experience with Grief
So, here we are roughly 3 months later, and in this short amount of time, I’ve had to call on the powers that be. It became EXTREMELY dark for me for a second. It started taking a toll on me physically; I was waking up in the middle of the night crying, my hair started to fall out, and my skin was breaking out heavily. I was triggered by my grief because it’s something I’ve never dealt with well. This is due to losing my parents at an early age; from the age of 14 until now, I’ve suffered heavy losses, but I’ve been able to pick myself up and keep it moving with the help of them.
So losing them affected me in the worst of ways. After a pandemic and a very bad friendship break-up in June 2021, I was already breaking down mentally, then BAM I lose two more very important people. My people who helped me make sense and cope with my mom’s death, cried with me through my sister’s death, self-image hang-ups, EVERYTHING, and now they are gone. I remember wailing crying, holding on to my son asking no one in particular “What do I do now?!”
Documenting the Journey
My journey to a new norm has had to be very INTENTIONAL. I’m a parentless parent still parenting in a pandemic many days I haven’t known if I’m coming or going. Having a good support system has been VITAL. I’m forever grateful for my remaining friends who acknowledge and share my pain. My girl jumped in her car with her two boys and puppy and showed up on my doorstep just to love on me. THAT’S LOVE. The type of love that embraces and comforts. Throughout this journey, I’ve had to remind myself it’s okay to not be okay, BUT understand I can’t stay there.
Journaling has become a vital part of my grief process. One of my friends and former HS classmates, LaToya Thomas-Latham, is a certified grief coach, and she recently published a book called Affirm Your Grief, which is a book that guides you to navigate your emotions and affirm your feelings. Revealing scriptures and positive affirmations coupled with room for me to write and identify where I am have helped me to give my emotions words.
Tips to Processing Grief
In this process, it’s necessary to give your feelings words. Therapy is also recommended. Being able to have healthy coping mechanisms and ways to express your vulnerability is important. I’ll never tell a person that therapy is pointless; but if it’s not for you, I encourage you to surround yourself with a tribe who wants to see you heal, not enable and prolong depression.
Make time for yourself and do things that put you in a space of happiness. Remove any and everything that’s not conducive to your healing, and most of all remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You cannot rush any progress and active process grief is no different.
I really hope my personal journey has been a glimmer of hope for someone. I’m actively conquering my grief daily, and I refuse to give up on myself. Yes, life is very different and I can’t count how many times I’ve felt the voids in my heart, but I approach my life now differently understanding that life isn’t promised to me forever. While I have my minutes here on Earth, I’m CHOOSING to use them stepping into my purpose and electing happiness along the way.
Until next time good people, That’s the Way ShayMo Sees It ?
This post is dedicated to the late Najah S. Watson (5/25/84-10/23/21) and the late Kyra S. Stephens (02/23/84-11/25/21). Rest in Power, Queens! ?