Good Grief

Good Grief
Photo by whoislimos on Unsplash

it really does work out in the end

I am actually in awe at the amount of discussions about grief that I am seeing on the internet. From memes to mini slideshows about the multiple aspects of grief, to Facebook groups, it’s about time that grief talk comes to the forefront. As Black folk, and I write towards and to Black folk primarily, we’ve often been socialized and acculturated to not talk about how we feel and push on through. Now that served us and helped with our survival since 1619, but it’s time for a new world/a new way of being where all of who we are can live freely.

Grief is a good thing though it may not feel like it. While this uptick in public grief awareness is hopeful, I do find that most of them are missing a very specific type of grief — grieving of what was, what we imagined, what might could have been. There’s grief when we have a change of mind/heart; grief when we realize that what we desired isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be once we attain it; and, the grief of change. Not all grief deals with the loss of people and objects. Grief also arises at the loss of dreams, pathways, and ideas.

We often struggle with grief because we don’t have a language or framework for it outside of physical loss. You can pinpoint a physical loss — a relationship ending, a person passing away, items may be stolen — you can see it, understand it, and process it. But what about those times you work to attain a goal with the hopes of the achievement would lead you to bigger, better things that you’ve dreamed of, yet those dreams turn out to be a bust, or more like a nightmare? I’ve known more than a few people who thought the carefully planned out means would lead to a wonderful end, but the end is a hot mess and antithetical to who they are. I’ve been there and perhaps you have, too?

I want us all to be able to process this grief. Sit with it, not run towards the next thing. You and your emotional health deserve to mend. We live in this culture that continues to applaud folks who work themselves to the bone, ignore red flags and cues, and persevere “against the odds.” That may leave us with a shiny outside, but inside, not so much. We see the effects every day all around us — folks with unhealed grief, which then becomes trauma, then alchemizes outwardly into addictions, self-harm, and harming others.

As I have learned about grief, and allowed myself to be uncomfortable in it, I come out of the other side. You can too. We all can.

Some grief resources: Folks in NYCGood GriefGrief Thoughts (a book by Issa M. Mas)