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.


Crawling Is Worthwhile


CrawlingWe are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:9-10

I read these verses last weekend, because I was struggling. I was frustrated, and I didn’t know what caused this emotion. I decided to pray. To pray a real prayer. A “I’m-gonna-cry-until-my-eyes-are-red” prayer. A “I’m-not-making-any-sense” prayer. Yet, God knew what I was trying to say.

Once I finished talking to God, I looked through the Bible and stopped at Paul’s words. I admire Paul, because he still served God throughout all of his trials. This man was beaten, jailed, and shipwrecked. Yet, he possessed joy.

As you may know from my last post of 2015, I decided that I would cultivate more joy in my life in 2016. I vowed to read the Word more and to embrace hangouts with family and friends. I feel as though I have made some progress with the goal. I am reading the Word more, and I am excited when I have my family/ friend chill times.

But last weekend, I was overwhelmed with the goal. I questioned my ability to focus on it. I wondered if it was pointless. I wanted to know if I would continue to take two steps forward and one step back. But worthwhile goals must be endured. They require work.

As it is only February, I should not be disappointed with myself for the small progress that I have made. I should celebrate what I have done.  

I used to hear my dad say “You have to crawl before you walk.” When a baby is born, he does not immediately walk.  He usually experiences milestones such as laying on his tummy, rolling over, creeping, crawling, and finally walking. His mama cheers with him at each milestone. When baby takes his wobbly first steps, he is afraid. Mama is clapping her hands and shouting “C’mon! You can do it!” Baby is whining for Mama’s help.

Eventually, baby walks with boldness. He explores under the table.  He bangs pots and pans under the sink.  For baby, walking equals expansion and creativity.

Expansion is slow for me, but it is happening.

How are y’all doing with your goals so far? Please let me know so we can pray and support each other!

And take a listen to one of my favorite Mavis Staples’ songs. A few years ago, my friend JH and I saw Ms. Staples in concert, and she rocked out with her warm, deep voice.























































2015’s Bursts of Joy

 “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all of their toil-this is the gift of God.”  Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Recently, I stood in the music section of Morning Star (local Christian bookstore), and I scanned the  choices of albums. I planned on buying a Jonathan McReynolds cd, as I have been blessed by his real and inspirational songs. Unfortunately, his cd wasn’t there. I finally ended up buying John Mark McMillan’s “Live at the Knight.”

The album contains poetic ponderings of God’s love and His sacrifices for us. McMillian is a worshipper, poet, and storyteller.  Before he sings his live version of “Love at the End,” he talks about his views on true success. For McMillian, true success lies in spending time with family and friends through eating food, laughing, and talking about Jesus.

His short interlude on the album is reminiscent of the above Ecclesiastes verses.  On Earth, we get up in the morning, and we go to work or to school. Some of us even go to work and school at the same time. But throughout all of this work, there are opportunities to be joyful. Sometimes, we can view the Christian walk as serious or even boring. But I believe that God wants us to be merry. To see the bursts of joy despite the “hard things” that life releases upon us.

In 2015,  my main “hard things” were grief and grad school.  I continued to grapple with emotions related to my grief journey. I fought with myself to quell sadness or negative memories associated with my sister’s illness and passing.

I trudged through classes in my graduate social work program. I had days where I questioned if I wanted to be in school, because I felt stressed and inefficient. I wondered if I would be a “good” future social worker, and if I had chosen the “right” career.

But God taught me lessons in these “hard things.” He taught me to pour out my concerns on His lap and to reach out to family and friends.  He showed me that there is truth in being vulnerable. That His healing dwells in my cracked skin and brittle bones. That in my weakness, He is strong!

As 2016 approaches us, it seems worthwhile to reflect on what God did for me in 2015. I experienced several bursts of joy.

2015 Collage

In January, I started my second semester of grad school. I survived papers with long pages limits, a group project, and multiple  readings on social work theory and research. I grumbled about the crazy snowstorms that lasted throughout most of the semester. But I was blessed by stellar grades when May came along. I survived my first year!  Thank You Lord!

In May, I saw two of my favorite Christian rappers, Lecrae and Andy Mineo in concert. I went to the concert with my friends J and E, and we got autographs from these artists. We also ran into them randomly around Beantown. I appreciated how down to earth these guys were whenever we saw them in the city. And they gave us a concert filled with creativity, ministry, and hype that will rank as one of my top concert experiences.

In June, I celebrated another birthday that God allowed me to see. Additionally, I witnessed my strong and beautiful friend get married to her sweetheart. My friend D has contended with chronic illness for numerous years, so her wedding day was a gift she needed to have. Throughout the challenges of her illness, she and her husband have chosen to “press” through their pain and frustrations.  If you would like to read more about D’s resilience and positive attitude, please check out her blog: The Ramblings of a Young Bostonian.

In August, I  was excited about the huge milestone of completing a year of blogging on afrotasticlady.com.  It may have been around this time that I decided that I should focus more on my writing/blogging. I realized that I needed to be more consistent in publishing posts and encouraging others to visit and to subscribe to my blog. As an introvert, I found these tasks a bit challenging as I would rather hide pieces that I have written than to shout to the world that my words are floating online.  But I needed to invest more in the gift of writing that God has given me. I needed to write and to invite others to read what I have plastered on a page.

During my August vacation, I went to San Diego, California with my friend JH.  We enjoyed the ocean and laidback atmosphere of the city. We hung out with my nephew and his wife, and we allowed them to be our tour guides. The California trip was a real vacation for me, which was an experience that I hadn’t had due to my circumstances.

In October,  I was a bridesmaid in my friend A’s wedding! I was humbled that A asked me to be in her bridal party, and I enjoyed meeting her other friends. The bridal party consisted of a beautiful group of women who gathered for a God-given purpose: marriage. We showered love on our friend and her husband, and we wished them congratulations.

In November, I was brave with what I put on my blog. I love creating short stories, and I shared one of my original stories with the blogosphere.  I was surprised by the number of folks that visited my blog to read, and I was overjoyed by the positive comments that were left. I have learned that when a writer composes a story that they are allowing readers to see parts of their imaginative mind. Thanks again friends for reading what goes on in my mind.

I showed my quirky/silly side in November’s My 6 Grateful Things List. In the hopes of being more grateful and aware of God’s goodness, I decided to create December’s 6 Grateful Things List.

In December, I announced that I would complete a grateful things list for each month. Plus, it’s  fun to take a break from introspective writing and be a complete goofball in a vlog post.

As a social worker in training, I am not a fan of the word “resolution.” If I treat myself as my own client, I would say that I should focus on the word “goal” instead.  In my last job, I was taught that goals should be measurable and broken down into steps.

For 2016, I crave to be more joyful. I know that this goal sounds abstract, but I plan to read the Bible more.  If it doesn’t happen daily, I need to meditate on His Word at least four times out of the week. Previously, I  read His Word, but I did not read it enough. I allowed the demands of school to push me away from learning and discovering God’s instructions for me. But I believe that His Word is my sustenance. I cannot become more joyful if I am not even spending quality time in God’s book.

I can be joyful in family gatherings with nourishing home cooked meals and in coffee shop hangouts with friends. In 2016, I plan to attend 1-2 concerts with friends or family members, because fellowship and music edifies me.

Friend, what are your goals for 2016? I would love to hear about them, so we can encourage each other in achieving them!

Happy, happy New Year friends! Thank you for reading my blog and for allowing me to be transparent with the “hard things” while sharing the bursts of joy! And because I love music so much, I have included McMillian’s “Love at the End” video.