When it comes to death, I feel I can take it one of two ways. I’m either incredibly indulgent and overwhelmed by it, or I rationalize the fact that we all must experience it because it is unavoidable. Nipsey Hussle’s death last year was crushing because he was so frivolously killed on what should have been a typical Sunday afternoon. The current death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the other 7 people who lost their lives hit me hard. All of these people were here, and then gone. So young with incredibly promising futures that they will never get to experience. Somewhere in our own minds we’ve told ourselves that bad things don’t happen to good people and that famous people are closer to invincible. When news hits about losing life for names known worldwide, we can hardly believe it.
It feels to me like death has been making its presence known in a way that seems so much closer and more prevalent than years past. It’s been people close and far and it’s been eerie and noticeable. Young, talented, great, have been leaving this life left and right. I believe in coincidence and I don’t believe these are that. I believe that God sends messages and that we should listen.
I lost my dad when I was 19 on an early Friday morning. I didn’t realize he’d been sick and he had not told us, so his death made time stand still. He passed away overnight when his organs began failing due to cirrhosis of the liver and it left us with many unanswered questions. Why didn’t he give us notice so we could have spent more time with him? Why would he let himself die? Why didn’t he call 911? Was he ready to die? Was he lonely? Did he know he wouldn’t make it through the night? Did he suffer? Did he try to call for us but was unable to? And as a father of two daughters, you won’t be here to see them get married, watch them graduate college or start their own families. It stings like no other. In death, I feel the most heavily about how it’s going to affect those still living, not how it has affected the dead. They are the ones still here to deal with all of the unanswered questions and waves of sorrow that will follow. Those who have perished are free.
Because of my own experience with tragedy, I often think deeply about grief and how we can wrap our minds around the inevitable beforehand so should it happen, we are spiritually and emotionally prepared. I was only 19 when he passed and it hit me so hard I was physically ill. I ran a high fever for days and had cold sweats. I didn’t eat for days and felt so nauseous. My body knew I was suffering. After his funeral, I remember forcefully telling myself that “Life is short. Daddy was here, and now he’s not. He was only 57. You don’t have a lot of time. He had a life to live and his day came. Yours will too. Make it count and make him proud.” Repeatedly. Over and over again. Trying to accept the reality of death while pushing through the uncontrollable emotions of loss was the only way I saw light at the end of the grief tunnel. I went to college, I worked hard, I worked jobs, I made a plan and found my way. It gave me wanting to make my dad proud a much different meaning.
As humans, we convince ourselves that certain things won’t happen to us. They won’t happen to the ones we love. We pray that tragedy won’t strike our loved ones or ever be the reason why we grieve. We create these ideal scenarios of how life will go in our heads and when tragedy forces itself into our lives we are devastated and can’t pick up the pieces. We can’t wrap our mind around the fact that we may have to live out our worst nightmares and still wake up to carry on in the days that follow. We are human. The fact of the matter is, we can not control those things and the amount of time that we have here in this life is very much so out of our control. So how do we find comfort in losing our parents, our siblings, our precious children? Only one way: knowing they are not sad and that they are closer to us than ever before.
I shared a book on Instagram that has given me much peace and understanding in addition to scripture. Believing that my dad is at peace, constantly with my sister and I and when our time is up he will be there waiting for us with my meemaw and other loved ones who have gone before us. That alone lightens my heart and excites me for when we will be reunited once again and together for the rest of time.
A prayer for us: Lord, as much as we pray that we may never have to experience the heartbreak of loss through death, we know that it’s a possibility. Knowing this, we ask that you begin building our spiritual strength so that our faith in You is what we hold onto should it happen. Please comfort those who don’t know how they will survive this kind of pain in a way that only you can God. You have told us that we know not the minute nor the hour of our time on this earth. Please aid us in our paths so that we may fulfill the purpose that you’ve given us before our time here is up. May we create legacies to be remembered by and live this day and all of those moving forward making you and the loved ones we miss so very much proud. In your name we pray, amen.
My heart is with all of you struggling with loss and understanding the idea of death. I’m always happy to share more about my own grief journey if you need it. Go and be great, xx.