Thursday, October 28, 2021

Working Through Grieving As A Black Man.

June 28, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Relationships, Weekly Columns

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( In January of this year, I lost my mother to kidney failure. She had just turned 58 a month earlier. When she left the family house for the last time, she was far from the shape she was in that November.

When Optimism Fades

The day before she went to hospital and my siblings and I decided she needed to go in, she told me “I was just trying to make it to Christmas.” I last heard her voice the day before the doctors had to make her more comfortable after a few medical emergencies.

My last text from her was “Did you like your chair?” She had bought me a new computer chair for Christmas/my birthday—we typically celebrated it on Christmas. I’m lousy with responding emails and texts and opted instead to call her while she was receiving treatment.

While she was in the hospital, there were moments when he got great news. It seemed like she would recover and just have to go through rehabilitation to get her mobility back.

Over the weeks, there were medical emergencies and gradually my optimism just bottomed out. You want to believe that this person can pull through. However, when you hear more about the downturn in their condition, some people just don’t have optimism. The hope is still there but it’s like seeing the writing on the wall.

Admittedly, I’m extremely pessimistic by nature. I expect the worse and prepare for the worse in most situations because I don’t like surprises.

Regrets and Holding On

On my phone, I have my text chain with her and our family text chain pinned. Every time I check my messages, her last text—the one I never responded to—is at the top. Whenever I see it, I have the urge to just reply “I love it.”

It would probably be better to just unpin it and allow it to sink to the bottom of my texts but I can’t bring myself to do it. I know it would go some ways towards me moving on but I just don’t see myself doing it.

When a parent passes—especially one you were extremely close to—you start to look at yourself asking “Was a good son?” or “Did I meet or exceed their expectations?” I ask myself these things often when I’m alone and think about her or when I sit in her room.


My Hero

When I was 16, I would ride the bus with my mom in the mornings. At her stop, she’d get off and walk the few blocks to her job at Park Place Café–right across from the downtown Greyhound station—and I’d continue on to school.

One morning, she had a heart attack and had to be taken in to Cooper Green Hospital. Seeing her in the emergency ward just made me fear and dislike hospitals. When she would have to go for other emergencies, I would sometimes visit once.

I just hated seeing her in that condition with tubes in her, the grogginess of her voice, that super sanitized smell, and the beeping of meters. Hospital sounds bother me. I can’t even deal with the beeping of the microwave or the fridge door being open.

Some of it was selfishness on my part. She was my mother, my greatest teacher in life, and my hero and you never want to see your hero worse for wear. It strips the invincibility they had when you were growing up.

It also lets you know that it will happen to you eventually. No one outruns aging and physical decline forever.

Loss of Purpose

I took driver’s education and never learned to drive from that class. The greatest lesson from that class was to tell your loved ones that you love them every day because you don’t know if that will be the last time you see them. I did that every day since 2002.

After she had the first heart attack, it affected me in such a way that I felt I couldn’t leave her side. I didn’t want her to be a case of my brother or sister finding her deceased. I just wanted someone here with her in the case the worst happened.

In the end, I relayed that something was wrong with her after she’d been not as active as usual for a few weeks after Thanksgiving. No one found her dead, we were able to at least try to get her treatment.

After she passed away, it was like a mountain fell on me. I’d been at her side for all 36 years of my life and she was gone. The person I loved and cared about the most in the world and had done the most for me was gone and I no longer have a purpose.

I’m just going through the motions day to day and you pick up where they left while trying to do your own thing.

Grieving As a Black Man

One big thing I encourage for my fellow Black men is not to bottle up your emotions because of the myth that men in general aren’t meant to be emotional or meant to cry. Emotions were meant to be released and many were meant to be shared with others.

Holding it in eats you up and the more Ls and misfortune you encounter, the more destructive things will get when you finally break or release your anger, frustration, or sadness.

There’s been mornings where I just sit and think about her and I’ll cry because she’s not here anymore. Every morning, I’d leave my room and see her room open and tell her good morning.

Now I only tell my sister and brother good morning. My brother is kind of in that role of that my mom was in that, he’s a loved one who is always happy to see me, loves me, and has a smile when I greet him. For years, that was what I had with my mom.

I wish I had some advice for how to move on but I’m still dealing with it myself. Also, what works for me might not work for you. I started smoking more after it but now I’m trying—and failing—to quit. That’s because I want to be here longer for my brother, my sister, and my niece and nephews.

Writing really took my mind off of things but I burned out for a few months after going so hard with it for years. I’d just hit a wall with things and writing wasn’t helping me get over it or move forward. I will say that having a hobby or something to occupy your mind makes the day easier.

Just know it’s alright to let your emotions go when you lose someone but make sure you surround yourself with loved ones: close friends and family. This isn’t something you should go through alone. Some people manage to do it but not everyone can.

Remember the Dash

You never forget the person that passed. You might forget faces over time but you’ll remember that person because of what they meant to you, what they did for you, and their impact on your life.

If you remember them then that person lives on. Strive to do things people will remember you for and try to impact others’ lives positively. What you do doesn’t have to be epic or some feat of heroism.

I was 33 when I first attended a funeral as an adult. It was the mother of my girlfriend and the pastor read the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. The most important thing to note about life and death is about the dash in the middle:

“He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.”

Make sure the dash between your birthdate and the eventual second date means something to others. If you’re grieving now, remember the dash and not the date of death.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.


One Response to “Working Through Grieving As A Black Man.”
  1. alexanderadamali says:

    I truly appreciate… all your time spent on this… your energy and passion for the launch… your invaluable guidance on my thesis…”