Dear Africana Woman,
Today I had a podcast interview that was centred around grief. Trigger warning. I have always wondered whether the way we grieve death culturally is healthy or toxic. Still have not really come up with an answer. It is interesting that in my adulthood the first great loss I had was my maternal grandmother. I always felt that she is the one person who never gave up on me. She was my prayer warrior and she would find me wherever I was in the world to tell me I will be okay. The news of her death was devastating, I guess for very selfish reasons. Fortunately, as is custom, the community swooped in to help with the logistics. In the days leading up to the burial, with not much else to do, I remember working myself up into a panic at the thought of having to see her body. Questions, swarmed my mind like would I become hysterical? Would I be able to let go? Why did she go? What would I do without her?
At the church, when it came time for body viewing, protocol calls for family members to be the last to see the departed. As I stood up to walk down the aisle, my hands were sweaty. My heart was racing. I was clinging onto someone thinking I don’t want to see her. It finally came my turn to look into the box. What I saw was an empty shell. In that moment I understood that the corpse was not my grandmother. It did not contain her anymore. She had moved on. Furthermore, it did not make sense to cry for someone who was at peace. In an instant, my demeanour changed from mourning to a deep knowing that she was fine. In fact, better than fine. Immediately, I was calm and the fear was gone.
I guess if I had to explain it in a tangible way I believe the essence of who we are is energy. This physical body we see is but a container for the time that we walk this earth. When we depart our energy doesn’t cease, it is just released by its container. After this experience with my grandmother, doing funerals has been much easier for me to process. But I will say this, there are times, I can feel whether the transition was peaceful or painful. I have looked at a body and thought, “Wow. This person is in hell” Not that I know what hell is. What I mean is they are not at peace after being released from this earth.
A long time ago I heard someone preach around the prayers we say for the sick. We say things like "Heal them completely." Then if they die we think our prayers were not answered. The truth is our prayer was answered because they are fully healed after they pass. They are not chained to the dis ease in their physical bodies. We just don’t realise that our prayers are selfish because we say we want them to be fully healed but with a caveat that they stay on this earth. But sometimes death is the miracle of healing we prayed for. This made so much sense to me. It does not mean I cannot be sad that they have gone. Instead I choose to focus on the comfort of knowing that they are completely healed, they are at peace, and they are fine.
Today we went all the way woo woo. I do want to know, how has your experience been of grieving the death of someone in Africa? Is it a healthy process or is it toxic? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.
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