Hello there, world.
How’s everyone doing this very fine day? Good? Well? Ya’ll’s families doing ok? Great to hear! Now that pleasantries have been taken care of, I have to be serious for a minute. This blog here will be a bit personal, so there’s going to be some soul-bearing. I’m kind of nervous about putting this one out but here goes nothing. They say people handle a loss in different ways depending on the circumstance. In the case of losing a loved one, there are several stages. Grief is one of the main one’s and this stage has always been the hardest for me to deal with. I’m not much of a crier because I’m not too fond of that feeling of vulnerability (and because it’s snot-bubbling ugly when/if it happens, but that’s beside the point). I’m not the type of person who likes to show signs of weakness or a need to worry. I’m more so the worrier if you will. So instead of being stuck in the box of having to grieve and deal with the situation, I’d much rather just run away from it or find a separate way to cope. Yes, very unhealthy. I’m aware of this (as my 34 years of experience and my therapist will tell you).
Within the last couple of years, there was a lot of avoidance of this feeling. I lost two very important people in my life in back-to-back years and around the same time. Around Halloween of 2018, my second youngest brother was taken away from my family. An act of mindless violence that led to an unnecessary casualty. A murder that’s still unsolved to this day, albeit with cameras and a video on Facebook of the incident. Left lying in the street over a damn iPhone. It still pains me to this day. I remember the call my mom gave, and I did not react. I couldn’t. I just froze there. Millions of thoughts blasting through my mind at one time. A mix of memories and just thinking why. I was hearing the words my mom was saying, but it didn’t fully process. Up until the funeral itself, it didn’t even feel real…. until that casket shut. I lost it, then and there. I had spoken to him not even a couple of weeks prior. We were talking about him visiting me when I lived in Ft. Lauderdale at the time. It was probably one of the best conversations we’d had. Mentioning future plans and finally coming together as a full family. He had been slightly estranged from us (which, hey, everybody got a messed up family member, so don’t be judging), so hearing those words felt good. Even before I moved, when we lived in the same city, we often talked about working together and listened to his music he created as we sat for hours in his Grand Am. Unfortunately, now just memories. Other than at the funeral, however, I never grieved the loss. I placed it on the back burner and moved on. Work’s gotta be done, and bills gotta be paid. There was no time to sit back and dwell. Hell, it’s literally what Tyrone would’ve said. “You better get yo ass up and go get that bread! Grieve me with a Rolex on!”
The second instance was one I feared, though we knew it was a matter of time: November 17th, 2019. I’ll never forget the day. I was sitting at home, and my mom sent me a text asking if I was busy. I tell her no and ask her what’s up. She calls. Immediately I’m worried because mom doesn’t normally call unless it’s something important. Plus, she had prefaced a few days earlier that the time was coming. My Grandma went home that day. I wasn’t ready for her to leave. It was another moment where I just froze. It felt like time had stopped at that moment, and a rush of guilt and sadness hit me like a Mike Tyson punch. I crumpled to the floor, surprisingly, with the phone still in my hand. One of the strongest women and biggest mainstays in my life was gone in an instant. I didn’t what to do or how to handle it. After getting off the phone with mom, I shut the door to my room, and I broke down. I didn’t want anyone to see me like that at all. A lot of different emotions and thoughts ran through me. Felt guilty for visits missed and phone calls not made. Felt angry for not getting one more chance to say goodbye. Felt sad because I’d never get that “hey suga-booga” from my Granny anymore. Coupled that with literally almost a year and month to the day of losing my little brother too? This was going to be a lot to take on, and I didn’t want to. I needed to but didn’t want to. I didn’t know how to handle either loss. I avoided it as much as I could. My Grandma’s funeral was the hardest thing I ever had to endure. Completely honest, I almost didn’t want to go. The anxiety of knowing that this was the last time I would be able to see her as she was. I almost couldn’t take it. It was killing me the closer the time got. Having all of our family there was amazing, to say the least, and being able to catch up with everyone made things worthwhile, but it still was just too much. I’m not used to crying in front of everyone, but I couldn’t stop myself that day. I was sitting in that pew with a box of kleenex, sobbing uncontrollably. My aunt and little cousin were consoling me as I wept. I hated every minute of it. Not the love being shown or the service itself. I hated the feeling of vulnerability. I felt raw and open, like a fresh wound, stinging ever so often. I didn’t want this feeling anymore. Once I hopped on the plane back to Florida, I did everything I could to leave all that baggage behind. Place it somewhere else or do everything I could to forget that I ever even had that feeling.
I replaced any moments of sadness or depression with a coping mechanism, work (and not even at a job I liked). I buried myself into the call center job, immersing myself to avoid dealing with what I should’ve been the whole time. Working myself so badly that the next year (this past one, if you’re still keeping up), I burnt myself out mentally and physically. I wasn’t sleeping well at all. My work performance was dwindling. I wasn’t taking care of myself like I was previously. I’d rather sleep all day and sulk in depression than be motivated to do anything. I acted like I didn’t know why, but deep down, I did. On top of other feelings, it was November. A very rough period for the aforementioned reasons. I’d avoided myself into a deep depression and wasn’t sure I could dig my way out. I allowed my avoidance of dealing with the grief to help overtake me and put me in the very place I hated being in.
That feeling of hopelessness and vulnerability in both instances made me into a shell of myself. It made me doubt many things about me, decisions I had made, and things I should’ve done differently. I couldn’t shake it no matter how hard I tried and just shut myself off from the world, minus a few meme posts ever so often. I hid behind the facade that I was fine. Don’t worry about me. I needed a break and help. I was afraid to go to my family at first. Weird, I know, considering how close we all are. I didn’t know what the reaction would be. I didn’t want to show that I needed help. I wanted to prove that I could beat this on my own. Stupid. Here I am, suffering in silence for my own pride. I could see Tyrone and Granny shaking their heads. I knew something needed to change.
It’s been a long process of going through grief. That initial having to “come to Jesus” (no pun intended) moment we have to have. I knew full well that that loved one is gone and won’t be coming back. It’s hard, that’s for sure. I went through memories of both of them through my mind constantly. One thing that stuck out was my Grandma’s favorite song. “The Thrill Is Gone” by BB King. I had to play it and imagine her “Walking The Dog” as it was playing. I was also gifted her old iPhone, which I’ve gone through constantly. Just looking at the pictures she took and the things she’d lookup. I can’t bring myself to delete it yet. Call me selfish, but it’s like a piece of her is still here with me. Yes, I still miss my Granny like no other, and it’s hard to imagine her not here anymore, but I’m coming to grips with it one day at a time. Each day is getting a little easier.
My brother was also musically inclined but more in creation. One day, before the move to Florida, my brother had played me a song he and a friend of his created together. Rone Tha Kid was his handle. The man was talented and could make a song about anything and put it together. Hell, there was one night he had a full-fledged concert for one in his car, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Anyway, I was going through my YouTube Music Playlist and found his song as one of my favorites on the list. I smiled immediately. The Kid made sure nobody ever forgot about him. I played the song my way home, blasting it as loud as I could. His birthday also just recently passed, which made me think about him a bit more. I feel he’d be happy that I’m going back into writing as he was one of the people that also wanted me to continue.
Each day, I feel I’m getting closer and closer to getting back to where I was and getting a handle on how to grieve. Looking back, I’ve known for a while that this has been a problem of mine and has led to other issues I have to deal with. What I can say is this, don’t be like me. If it’s hard for you to express yourself, find an outlet or let someone in. Especially family as they will be your biggest supporters, and you may not even know it. I’ve had eye-opening conversations with several members for the last few weeks and have noticed that some even feel as I do. Pride was the only thing that kept me from even having these conversations. You can’t handle losses like that on your own, and you need a team to help lift you up when you experience them.
Sometimes all you need is just to let the baggage go. Lighten that load and handle what you need to handle. You’ll be amazed what all becomes clearer once you do.