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-A love letter to many

Grief trauma or trauma in itself is not something we acknowledge the possibility of affecting us, particularly as a black community. We have coined and internalized toxic terms such as “black don’t crack” as coping mechanisms for everything that gets thrown at us. Yes, we are resilient and our ability to rise above all odds is immaculate, but we are ALSO HUMAN. As such, a time should come in our lives where we look ourselves in the mirror and face our demons, where we have these unfamiliar and uncomfortable conversations about our emotions.

Grief trauma is cunning, it creeps up to you from behind when you’re not looking. And like death, it is also a thief. I was aware that my putting my grief period on hold would come back to bite me in the back despite having had valid reasons to do so. It’s so cute how I thought I could schedule my griefing period, it was really cute but sometimes one simply has no other choice but to put their emotions on hold. And now I find myself in a difficult predicament where I’m aware of the problem but unusual for me, I can’t seem to know how to solve this one. If only I could’ve dealt with this much earlier but grief as is the case with other forms of trauma, you can’t simply put a timeframe to it. Now, it has become much bigger than me, I’m not okay but I’m handling it.

The strong friend, the confidant of many, now also needs a hug of comfort, a sympathetic and understanding ear. Someone to simply sit and listen, for once she wants to talk and not be a listener for a change. But she’s found that it is simply not that easy because people either do not believe that for once she’s weak, that she is openly vulnerable or they simply don’t take her to cry for help seriously, I mean how could a strong person like herself not have it all figured out? Indeed, a strong person like herself may face situations much stronger than her, she’s not weak for being vulnerable, neither is she a coward for not practising what she preaches on a few occasions, she is just HUMAN, and as a human, it is completely fine not to be fine, it is alright not to have it all figured out because sometimes it is simply all too hard to handle. I’m not okay, but I’m handling it.

Grief trauma has taught me that though I am strong, I don’t always have to be strong, the experience is deeper than the sentences I’m writing in this letter. I am yet to fully understand it. I’m now however in a position to advise anyone else who’s lost a close one that those emotions are better dealt with as they come, and yes I understand that on some days you’re numb and unaware of how to feel but on those days I advise you to write numbness out, it helps on the days when you have emotions to feel. Cry if you may, draw, get angry at the world, God or even yourself, just allow yourself to feel because that’s the only way to avoid being in this position I’m in, anxious and depressed.

Many of us have lost loved ones as a result of COVID-19, cancer, car crashes, GBV, the list goes on but the world goes on, school demands that assignments be done, work be done, children fend and natured. In short, despite our crashing experiences, the world doesn’t stop for us to mourn, for us to figure out our feelings and plot our next moves, for us to figure out how to do life again, in the absence of our loved ones. The world goes on, we mauve, because that’s part of life, people live and die, we should make peace with that fact. But the truth is, we are not okay, but for the sake of progress and “life goes on” we are handling it.

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To everyone who has lost a close one, who haven’t yet but might lose a close one, allow me to validate your numbness, your tears, your undetermined emotions, yes all those are fine, you are not too much, you not being a nuisance. Your feelings matter, so feel, express your grief, for the sake of your state of mind. JUST FEEL. To family members, friends, colleagues and spouses, avail yourself, your time, your ear and maybe even your tongue because at times all it takes is a kind word. But also let us be, because it’s not always that we want to speak about our feelings, sometimes we equally don’t understand whats’s going on. It is tough but one day we’ll look back and claim our victory. I am not okay, but I’m handling it.

With Love,

Anita Feresiano

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