A Letter to the Grievers


Dear Grievers,

I have been thinking about the upcoming holiday season and how this time of the year can be challenging for us. Often, I have mixed feelings about the holiday season. While I enjoy digging into Thanksgiving turkey and listening to Christmas music, I begin to miss my sister, Wanda. Indeed, I know she is living comfortably in Heaven, but the fact that I cannot go into her room to say “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Merry Christmas” is tough. Her birthday is a few days after Christmas which worsens the grief.

I wanted to write this letter to folks who grieve, because you may feel misunderstood right now. Your family or peers may wonder why you are not as excited about the holidays as they are. They may wonder why you just want to hide from the world from November-December and return to it in January. Grievers, I see you and I want you to know that your emotions are okay. You do not have to apologize for how you feel. You can just be. You can run to Jesus with your wet faces and shaky legs. He knows what you are feeling right now, and He wants to hug you. He desires to cover you with His love.

Grievers, you may believe that you have no right to grieve because of what society has barked at you. Perhaps, you miscarried or dealt with a stillbirth. You still carried a baby in your womb and waited to hold that baby next to your body. That child’s life mattered to you so you do not have to ask for permission to grieve.

Grievers, you may believe that you have no right to grieve because your loved one died from a substance overdose. Society told you, “Well, he or she shouldn’t have been doing drugs anyways.” Yet, you witnessed your loved one’s addiction and his/her attempts to recover from it. Maybe, you experienced his/her negative behaviors because of the impact of the substances on their mind and body. Maybe, you’ve felt guilty for giving him/her money that would be used to buy their substance. Grievers, I pray that you do not experience shame anymore. I encourage you to express your real emotions about the loss despite the way society ostracized your loved one.

Grievers, you may believe you have no right to grieve because your loved one was dealing with a chronic illness that you knew he/she would eventually die from. You may have even helped them plan their own funeral. Your loved one was ready to pass on from Earth to Heaven. Even though you prepared for their death, you are still allowed to grieve it. You can miss your loved one because their life and their love refreshed you.

Grievers, you may believe you have no right to grieve because you did not lose someone to death. Perhaps, you recently endured a divorce or break-up. Maybe, you were laid off from your job. These events are losses and they elicit various emotions. You’re going to miss not being with your significant other during the holiday season. Or you’re going to feel hurt by how the relationship ended. Regarding your job, you’re going to feel frustrated by your lack of income. You’re probably going to question why you had to lose a job that you have invested several years in.

Grievers, I realize that you feel raw and uncomfortable. In the first year of my sister’s death, I used to tell folks that it felt like someone took my heart out of my chest and stomped it. I don’t know what metaphor you have used to describe your emotional pain. I don’t even know where you are in your grief journey.

Despite the pain, I hope that you are honest with yourself. Let yourself feel the pain, because if you keep it bottled inside, you may burst at an inconvenient time. I pray that God sends you folks that will pray with you and listen to you when you need to talk. When you feel like you have talked about that deceased loved one or that break-up too much, that God-sent person will be patient with you.

Grievers, please be patient with yourself during this holiday season. I’ll pray for you and I ask for your prayers as well!

“Cause I believe always, always our Savior never fails

Even when all hope is gone

God knows our pain and His promise remains

He will be with you always.” 

“Always” by Building 429

God Bless,

Monica aka afrotasticlady





When a Parent Grieves

When A Parent Grieves

I vowed to my friend that I would not talk about grief on the blog this year. I felt that my readers were probably sick of reading about my grief journey. Yet, I do not have the ability to read minds, so I do not really know what my readers are thinking. Honestly, I am the one who is sick of writing and talking about grief. I desire to pretend that grief moments do not exist. Those moments where I hear a certain song and think of my sister, Wanda. Those moments when the tears come. Those moments that my mom succumbs to the tears.

Back in December 2015, I claimed 2016 as my year of joy. Basically, I was not going to allow grief to arrest me. To break me in half. But I am not superhuman, and it was a mistake to believe that I would never be affected by grief. My mother and I have been affected. I know that my dad grieves, but it is not as visible to me as my mother’s grief. I am going to share how it feels to watch my mother grieve.

One of the churches in my city has experienced a series of deaths, which has produced empathy and sorrow within my mother and me. When a church member dies, it as though a family member has died. I believe that so much time can be spent in church, that you end having both warm conversations and arguments with other members. You celebrate milestones such as the upcoming birth of a baby or a person’s 80th birthday. Thus, it is very challenging when a church member dies, because you have witnessed so many events with this person.

My mother was particularly concerned with the death of the fourth person that died in this local church. She discussed the death with other folks and was interested in attending the wake or funeral. On one Sunday, I was driving my parents to church. We were listening to a poignant song, and I heard soft noises from my mother. She was crying, and I felt helpless. My mom missed my sister and her daughter. As I drove, I looked back at her face. Her eyes were crinkled, and her mouth was turned upside down. I wanted to jump out of my seat to give her a hug. I thought to myself, “It’s okay to cry, Mom.”

In American society, there is a timeline for acceptable grieving. After the first year, there are not as many phone calls or texts asking how you are doing. Life happens, and people have their own struggles. I understand that people cannot continue to check in with you. But there does not seem to be enough space for folks to process. To be free to cry in year two, year three or even year four.

So, my hope was that my mother did not stifle her tears. I desired for her to be the brave one. To express a courage that I struggled to have.

In church, my mother asked for prayer for the bereaved family and then she asked for prayer for herself. She explained to the congregation that she had been thinking about her own deceased daughter a lot. She cried again, and I wanted to race to her pew. She needed to be comforted, and I had to be the comforter. But my brother ended up moving to her pew and embraced her.

When a parent grieves, you subconsciously take on your parent’s role. You become what your parent was to you when you were little. When you scraped your knee, your mom gently wiped the bruised area with water, soap, and rubbing alcohol. Maybe, she even kissed the area in order to “make it all better.” I have realized that I cannot “make it all better.” Indeed, I can kiss my mom. I can allow her to cry and hug her. But I cannot save or heal her.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Even though, I want to be my mother’s protector, I have to remember that she has Jesus. When her heart splatters on the ground, Jesus is not afraid to see the blood and to wipe it up.

It was unreasonable of me to promise myself to not write about grief this year. There are other daughters and sons out there who are trying to be the solution to their parents’ mangled hearts. They are pushing themselves to be the ointment that only Jesus can be. I have to write about grief even when I am done with talking about it, because I am still extracting lessons from the pain. I have to pass on what I have learned about grief to others.


When Grief Drops: A Post for “Circling The Story”

(Hey, hey! Happy Friday, y’all! Over the last few months, I have discovered some wonderfully  written blogs! I found Ashley Hales’ blog, Circling The Story, through another wonderful writer/blogger, Lindsey Andrews.  I was blessed with the opportunity to share a guest blog post about my grief journey on Ashley’s site. Please read the snippet below! Thanks, afrotasticlady)

“I’ve never had a full appreciation of snow. Last year, it snowed frequently in New England. We trudged through snow castles. We struggled to dig out our cars.

Grief reminds me of a heavy snowfall.  Trees are strewn with the white chunks. Sidewalks are buried in it. Folks are crammed in their houses. They demand a return to their daily activities. Still, the snow continues to drop.  Grief dropped into my chest when I was a teenager. The doctors had informed my family that my sister, Wanda, had only six months to live. Yet, Wanda lived longer than the time frame that the doctors gave her. While she lived with multiple sclerosis for over fifteen years, I wrestled in snow. I gasped in the wetness. I willed the tears back into my eyelids.

My parents were her daily caregivers, and we’d figured out that we could communicate with Wanda through facial expressions.  A grimace showed us that she was in pain. A twitch of her head displayed that she’d heard us call her name.”

Please read the rest of the post here!


When I Think About Grief

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27

When I think about grief, I think about Mary. Mary was standing and watching her son, Jesus, suffer on the Cross. He was bloody and tired. Despite the agony, Jesus prepared his mother, Mary, for the transition. He introduced Mary and one of his disciples as “mother” and “son.” I find this entire conversation between Jesus, his mother and the disciple to be selfless. But this selflessness is who Jesus is. He not only endured beatings and brutality as He hung on the Cross for all human beings; He ensured that His mother would have companionship.

When I think about grief, I think about my mom and dad caring for my sister for over 15 years as she was challenged by disease. When she was first diagnosed with the disease, she was still able to talk and walk. But a few years later, the disease removed her ability to speak, to walk, or to date and get married. I’m certain my mom and dad did not think their daughter would be plagued by such suffering when they rocked her and fed her a bottle as a newborn. Yet, the disease jumped into my sister’s body and forced her to abandon her interests in modeling. And my parents remained dedicated to being her caretakers until her death.

When I think about grief, I think about a picture of my sister, nephew, niece, and me. It was a picture from the 90’s as my sister was wearing an oversized plaid shirt with vibrant red lipstick. I don’t remember what we were doing on the day that picture was taken or who even took it. But we were sitting closely together as family members who love each other do. We were all doing our own poses. With my two little fingers, I was holding bunny ears above my sister’s head.

When I think about grief, I think about when I was a teenager, the doctors said my sister only had six months to live. It truly scared me, and I ended up writing a poem about it. Back then, words were my friends as they still are now. Looking back, it seems odd that I, as a 7th/8th grader, was preoccupied with death and writing poems about it. Perhaps, it wasn’t odd, as my sister’s constant trips to the hospital were a huge part of my adolescence.

When I think about grief, I think about how this month, my mom would have wished my sister both “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Birthday.” A few days after Christmas, she would have walked into her bedroom. And in her cute, Southern way, she would have exclaimed”Happy Birthday Wan.” Then, she would have kissed my sister on the forehead.

When I think about grief, I think about silly memories that I had with my sister. When I was in elementary school, I told my sister that I had a crush on a Latino boy. She looked at me and said that “Spanish boys don’t like Black girls.”  I laugh now, because I was a shy bookworm when I was little. A shy bookworm who had a crush.

When I think about grief, I think about what I have heard preachers say. They speak about how Earth is not our home, and we are only passing through. They’re right. Even on my grief journey, I acknowledge that death is a transition that we will all experience. We will see our loved ones die, and we will eventually die too.

But I am learning that I can still think about the positive memories that my sister and I had. Although, I know that she is singing and dancing in Heaven; I still miss her. But she is experiencing such freedom that she did not experience on Earth.