It’s been one year since I lost my father… As I face this day and relive the moments with the dreadful phone call and knock on my door indicating my father had passed, I had realized a lot about me had changed.
Going through life as a black man in America is a challenge in itself. Having leadership in the home and abroad is essential to the survival and development of the youth, regardless of race; but for black children, it is more of a hurdle to keep fathers in the home. As many black women are incentivized to leave their men and depend on the government to take care of them and their children, the black man is forced to fend for himself and a lot of times still lend financial support to their estranged families. Although my father left our home in our early ages, he wasn’t entirely the statistical black man, in fact he exceeded expectations and broke barriers as a man who truly loved his children.
Growing up, I always saw my father as a hardworking man who provided for his family. He served 8 solid years in the Navy. He loved his family, culture and lifestyle, which ultimately would conflict with his lust for food, women and work. As a child, I loved my dad, I looked up to him and saw him as my hero. He brought my brother and I so much joy in our childhood. We enjoyed many memories together, from our first video game system, showing us how to ride bikes, playing basketball with us, traveling to every theme park on the east coast, to simply being a great example of what a man is and what we would want to be like when we grew up.
My dad was definitely the “coolest” with his two cell phones and a beeper, his 2-3 cars at any given time, his immaculate positions at some Fortune 500 companies and his love for life. His military experience allowed him to travel the world and gain viable skills. He had it all, however, like many men, had conflicts in the home and eventually left our mother to raise the two of us. I went through a great amount of grief and trauma which led to severe depression and anxiety. My grades suffered, I had a loss of interest in everything. Although my father provided for our home financially, we missed our dad and it affected me terribly. After an incident at school, I went to therapy and was prescribed with several antidepressants which inspired thoughts of suicide especially in my teen years. During puberty, I eventually came out of the closet as gay and somehow, that relieved a weight off my chest. My self-harming thoughts came to an end and I refused therapy and other treatments after. I told my parents July 4th, 2003 and to my surprise, my dad was much more supportive of me than my mother was. He told me I was his son and that there was nothing that could change that. From then we shared a bond that I’ll never forget, he truly loved me and wouldn’t allow anyone to disrespect me in his presence.
As time went on, I eventually started working, and my dad’s health started to decline. When I was around 6 years old, he was diagnosed with diabetes and over time he lost kidney function, leaving him to dialysis every other day, a stroke and countless surgeries which eventually left his motor and basic functions handicapped.
In his last year with us, I took time away from my hometown of Charlotte, NC to help take care of my dad during an unusual situation which called for me to stay with him and my aunt for about 2 and a half months in Florida. During that time, my dad and I got to get closer and I honestly had no clue this was my last set of holidays with him. I took him to several appointments, ran errands and juggled my business at the same time. It was a very stressful time, but I was glad to be there for my dad. We had good days and bad days but we got through them together. We came back to NC in January 2022, from there, he was contracted with Covid and eventually ended up going into the hospital for about 3 months. My dad passed May 25th, 2022 from several complications, but the one that made my blood boil was the 2.7 cm infection they found in his heart only days before he passed. They somehow missed it. Needless to say I was devastated and filled with anger. I was calm, but I was ready to strangle the doctor mercilessly with my bare hands. My dad suffered a long time and was ready to go, so I guess he didn't take it so bad but, it was without a doubt disappointing to listen to.
I know that in America, you must consider yourself grateful for having a dad in the first place; so I know a lot of people couldn’t really relate or put themselves in my shoes. Because I knew that, I had shunned the world and decided to suffer by myself. I knew it wasn’t a good thing but I also have no trust in man to share my feelings with. I took off 6 months from work to grieve, rest and connect with Jesus. During that time I learned a few things about grief: 1. “You never get over it.” This is a scar I will live with forever. A friend of mine in their 40’s shared that they lost their mother when they were around 7 and still cries. 2. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. A clean environment allows you to have a space for peace and for Christ. Again, you never get over it, but peace comes with Christ and knowing my dad accepted him before he left is comforting. 3. Wake up early and be intentional about your day. A lot of time can pass while grieving. Bills can pile up, terrible habits can arise and relationships can be severed if you’re not careful. All of this is hard to think about or care about when grieving but try to remember and be grateful for the people and things that are here now and that make up your life. 4. Be creative! Hobbies are a great way to cope with loss. Your God given gifts are always a way out of a dark space. 5. Give yourself grace! Nothing is worse than becoming your own enemy. Despite number 3, you should get as much rest as you need. Grieving is exhausting and can affect everything you do. Give yourself enough time to get your mind in the right space. 6. Give it to God. God alone holds life and death in his hands and we must accept the terms of our time on earth. That means we know that our time is short as well as our loved ones. We trust God’s timing is perfect and with that trust is reassured that our loved ones are in the presence of the Lord. 7. Find Christ. This goes over all. Knowing Jesus and Jesus knowing you is important and is really a life or death decision in its basic form. Forgiving others is a lesson of Christ and it was something I had to learn to do to move forward. Repenting from sins is a daily challenge I learned to accept, which helps strengthen your connection to Christ. IT IS ALSO PERSONAL! Your relationship with Jesus is insurance you will meet your loved ones again who accepted him before death. There is a joy in knowing that we will meet again and will enjoy life abundantly with our true Father in Heaven. Accept Jesus today as your Lord and Savior.
So when people ask me how do I deal with the grief… well I went through all of the above, but the most important thing was finding my relationship with Jesus and allowing him to fill the cracks of my broken heart with his love and light. Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. With him I have hope, wisdom and salvation. I’m grateful to share my story with you and I hope this helps you along your journey too!
~ King Cxshmere