In this discussion, we discuss the podcast episode “When It’s All Over”. I’m getting candid about my journey of grief and the process of today. Grief does not have a time frame and damn the people who think you should be over it by now. Life doesn’t work that way. Often times we feel the pain long after the casket is six feet under with a cemented vault.
I tapped into a part of me left untouched. I never really thought about the open wound until I was doing a virtual open mic and this guy was performing a piece on the death of his spouse. Then it happened. I kept getting this one liner “I lost someone”. I couldn’t shake it no matter how hard I tried to pay attention to other poets. It was cutting at me so much to write about something I long walked away from instead of dealing with.
Grief can be masked in so many ways in a person. That person can be outwardly happy but at the same time crying themselves to sleep. That person can be trying to ease the pain by some addiction. That person could shut out the whole world and totally become someone just existing. That person could just have the superhuman complex where they’re going from one crisis to another trying to help others without dealing with the issues at hand.
There are many stages of grief and sometimes we’re prepared and others we figured we had time to gather all the memories, stories, or to make amends. Do we ever really have the time? Is it just something we tell ourselves so that we can put off making true connections?
To me, I masked my grief of a parent and grandparent by being a superhuman. When my papa passed suddenly, I didn’t know how to channel my emotions. I wasn’t where I knew I could be career wise or socially. I was at ground zero with no money, no job, and nothing but a degree that held no weight. Didn’t seem like something anyone could be proud of at the time. When he passed, my grandmother got sick. Later we found out she had multiple myeloma that was present for more than a decade that she was living with silently. I stayed at her bedside every time that she was admitted to the hospital. It felt good to be of service but I still hadn’t grieved my father’s death.
When death comes back to back it makes you look at life differently. After my last living grandparent got her wings. I still barely grieved her death. I just moved on to the next crisis. A person I met was in an abusive marriage but she didn’t want to be saved. There was nothing I could do to change her mind. Eventually her husband made her cut ties with me. I moved on to another crisis. A friend was going through a cycle of abusive relationships and getting her kids back in her custody. When that crisis was turned around and there was nothing left for me to do. I wasn’t needed anymore. We got distant and barely talk to this day. I moved on to another crisis. My sister was in a toxic divorce battle and I moved on to that crisis. When that battle was calm but not over just calm I moved to another crisis. I never gave myself time to grieve.
We as African Americans are channeled to move on after death without the proper mourning of a lost soul. I guess you can say it was engraved in us beyond the Jim Crow Era. We were supposed to be strong and never showing sadness, anger, despair, or brokenness.
It’s hard being a rainbow in a hurricane.Tweet
We deprive ourselves of life’s basic necessities when we don’t allow ourselves to grieve and simply move on. What good was I doing anyone if I was hiding the pain within me? You know I thought I was hiding it very well. I was happy. I published books. I locked in on a set career. I was booking speaking speaking engagements. I wasn’t addressing the elephant in the room and that was grief.
We do ourselves a disservice when we ignore what we need to heal from.Tweet
I guess over seven years it took someone else being open about their emotional scars for the door to unlock that I wasn’t okay. I was not okay with him dying. I was not okay that my grandma died of cancer. I was not okay living in a world without either of them. You saw the mask that covered a multitude of pain. I thought it to be true as well. I wasn’t facing the facts that I felt alone. I felt discarded. I felt left behind. I know people will tell you that you have much more work to do. People will even say give it to God. Some people will tell you to get over it.
You cannot get over what you won’t go through!Tweet
I mean even writing and playing back that episode makes me cry every time because it is a wound still opened and I could go to a therapist and repeat their words and steps verbatim. Sometimes a therapist doesn’t help if you’re not doing the work within. When a crisis comes I’ll probably tunnel in on it. I’m human. I don’t need sympathy.
To understand grief is to go through each stage in a healthy way. You will never be prepared. No amount of education or therapy sessions will prepare you for a loss of a child, spouse, parent, grandparent, or friend. Ignoring the fact that you indeed lost someone and that it matters is a disservice to yourself. Take the necessary time to heal. Go off the grid if you have to and adjust to your new normal. You will still cry, you will still remember, their spirit will still be there but only in your heart this time.
Grief has no time limit. Who cares if it’s been a year or ten. You lost that person who made an impact on your life and you deserve to heal from that open wound from the inside out. Let me give you this. I had surgery and instead of stitching me up they left the wound open to heal from the inside out. I would cry during dressing change and damn near wanted to fight everyone who touched me. The shit hurt like hell. Healing from the inside out was the only way to make sure that wound would close properly without festering an infection that would cause me to reopen the wound and do the process all over. If I would have took the other route (Getting stitched) I risked the scenario of my wound healing on the outside but still having that infection on the inside.
To be honest, going through grief, most of us wanted to be stitched up only healing the outer layer. We don’t want to cry. We don’t want to be glued to the bed. We don’t want the pain. When we do heal from the outside, the inside is still open so anything could trigger that wound and have us in the same hole as we once were in. It is best to heal from the inside out. We grow more. It gives us room to love more and love in a healthy way.
We have to learn to face it. Yes, it will hurt . What’s worse? Do you want to heal from the inside out or be stitched? Inside out takes more strength but you’re completely healed. Stitching is just masking the elephant in the room.
I know we’re all going through something and I hope you can grieve from the inside out. We all need to let go in our own timing and not by anyone else’s rules.
When you’re ready, set it free!