The Grieving Room

Weathering the storm when it comes

Weathering the storm when it comes.

I will not claim to be incredibly emotionally sound, however, I give myself the time I need to move through emotions when the death grip of them appears. I can spend days with sadness, weeks with fear, minutes with anger, etc. I know when it is time to move away from these emotions and get myself back into the cool, crispness of my realm. I rarely settle in the depths of these emotions when they arise, but my momentary stay with them worries my loved ones.

When you are often the picture of positivity and “a light” shining on those who depend on you, your own heart can be weighed down with guilt and anything else that may come into your line of sight, and as soon as you acknowledge whatever the cause may be and spend some time with those feelings, people worry. They want to make sure you will be okay — that you will “bounce back” and be their shoulder to lean on once again. They often want to be sure they do not have to deal with the pain of watching you move through your pain for too long — it makes them uncomfortable.

But this is life and life has things that will shake us up when we least expect it. Grief looks different for everyone experiencing it. It is not some cookie-cutter emotion channeling its way through each of us exactly the same. How you move through grieving may be entirely different from how someone close to you moves through it.

The seven stages of grief.

According to HCF, the seven stages of grief include:

Shock and denial

Pain and guilt

Anger and bargaining

Depression (loneliness & reflection)

Upward turn

Reconstruction

Acceptance (and hope)

Allow me to be completely transparent. I am teetering between depression and an upward turn. However, I sometimes find myself tip-toeing into anger and bargaining as well.

This past week, I had more good days than I did bad ones. My younger cousin shared a painting she’s working on that includes her mother, her grandmother, herself, and her unborn child. To witness the strength, pain, happiness, and exactness of her painting shot through me, and before I could stop them, the tears flowed freely. I had been warned beforehand, and I wanted to see her work — wanted to connect with it. I am glad I did.

Sharing that moment with her, which reflected the beauty of her mother and the lives lost around her, caused me to smile through the pain. Here was my younger cousin honoring her late mother in such a way one could not fathom its fruition. I told her I wanted to see the finished product, and I am certain she will share it with me.

I had experienced a momentary storm, but I moved through it. There will be more and I will find the emotional wherewithal to move through those moments, just as I did the one above.

Honoring our loved ones when they are gone.

My cousin’s death pushed me to be more creative. It has been a reason for me to grant myself the power of “Yes” instead of standing flimsily behind fear and the audacity of “No.” I have written a compilation of poems as an e-book in her honor and have shared it with some friends and my family. I have also opened up the channels to have the e-book purchased by others I have asked personally, and I am overjoyed with the results of this.

I took the time to share my feelings in safe spaces, pulled the strongest poems from these experiences, and completed their outcome in October Star: Poems for Chrissy. It is not the only batch of work I have dedicated myself to. In the midst of it all, I have finally committed to a work of fiction — including some of my most popular fiction stories and serial fiction works as well. I am hopeful this book will be available in the next month or two.

I know none of this would be possible had I not suffered the pain and anguish of my dear cousin taking her final breath two months ago. She had been strong in her sense of self and often told me to simply “Go for it” whenever I had an idea about something. So, in my own way, without her around now, I am going for every damn thing I said I would in the past. It is time. It is past time.

I will leave you with a comment a fellow writer on Medium, DL Nemeril, shared with me about grief on the introduction to The Grieving Room, “There is no good way. There is no easy way. There is only your way.”

Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.

See you next Saturday.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally shared via LinkedIn.

Alone With Himself Without Her

Photo by Asheesh via ReShot

Flash Fiction

He hadn’t known she would leave first thing in the morning. The argument they had the night before tested the strength of their relationship. They had failed. They were failing - he was blind to it all before. The colder side of his bed lured him over and he turned to lie in the space she left. His heart pulsed and his hands twitched. His pillow was wet. Had he cried while he was asleep? Why couldn’t she have waited to say goodbye?

The bedroom was dark - no light had entered during the morning hours. He limped over to the window and pulled the curtains back - opened the blinds. He would make a fresh, hot pot of coffee. It was something she’d always done, but she was not there. 

While the percolator purred, he checked their closets. All of her things were gone. The skis they purchased together the year before were too. She’d always said she’d take those if they split. She kept her word. He searched the bathrooms for reminders. A few strands of her auburn hair rested at the mouth of the sink - waiting to be washed down. He feathered them gently between his two fingers before releasing them. 

The sound of the running water prompted tears to fall. He stood there - buck naked and unashamed - alone with his tears. He took two deep breaths and sat down on the toilet. This was a thing Ava hated - him spending far too much time in the bathroom - far too much time on the porcelain throne. Far too much time sheltered and shuttered away from her. He sighed. His world had been crumbling - cracking - and he would not pick the pieces up in time to move on.

***

He poured the piping hot coffee into his favorite mug. The quote on it said, “Go be great. Then, sleep.” Ava hated the mug. But he drank from it every day, anyway. The morning sun pressed itself on his stony face and found its home underneath his eyes. Tuning the radio, he selected his favorite channel to listen to some music. The last thing he needed was a blast from the past that led him to more thoughts of Ava. More tears. More momentary solitary seconds of surefire sadness. He wept . . . He wept . . . He fell into the pits of depression.

Roxette–It Must’ve Been Love

The day was beginning without him, and he knew he had to shake himself free from the tight grip of melancholy. He had a presentation at work in two days and, knowing his boss as he did, he knew he would need to make some last-minute changes. Ava would help him with his presentations by sitting and listening to him as he mock-presented his work. She would critique and applaud and give him the support he needed.

He set up the area, created the projection onto his living room wall, and talked to an invisible audience. Halfway through his concept, the tears crept in once again. He lowered his body to the floor and sunk into the plush carpet. He’d call in sick - surely he could not work today. As soon as he reached for his phone, a message appeared from Ava.

“Hey, I’ve forgotten a few things. I’ll be over before you head out to work. Shouldn’t take long.”

He read the message five times before settling back into the floor - his body curled into itself, alone with his thoughts of . . . her . . . and the reality of the end of them.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt, Originally published via Simily.

remembering

I catch myself–I nearly click your phone number, desperate to hear your voice. my world is shifting and I have to remind myself that death does not issue refunds.

I back out of my contacts and slap my thigh . . . “You can’t call her anymore.” it’s a stern statement I allow to slither in my mind more times than I can count, yet, I forget.

it’s the remembering . . . the recollections of good times and big love we shared, and now it’s all a matter of discarded hopes and dreams never to see the light of day.

I should be better by now, but by whose standards or expectations . . . and why is betterment the goal?

I flit from sleeping soundly to tossing and turning frequently and my body clock is on vacation.

tonight, I listen for you in the wind–the trees send your voice to me, and I lose my way to a place that shelters me from every storm. you’re there, and I’m happy again.

__________

©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt, Originally published via Simily

Hello Again, Death–You’re Uninvited

Photo by Cecily Ward via ReShot

A Lamentation

the last breath cuts
sharply — aims for
the heart

we all feel it

amazingly, suffering comes
in waves
no longer tortured by
the machines that
kept you breathing, you
can soar

how fragile the human
life — how glass-like;
the cracks and piercings
dangle as cautionary tales
to be told in the future

I said the only words 
I could muster, “I love you — 
I love you so much.”
and I did and I do and 
I always will

this world was too blind
to see a gem shining
before it — God knew this,
didn’t he?

I give myself excuses
and blink on blips of 
memories loading to keep
me above water

a foreign concept — picking up
my phone to never
hear your voice again;
no more conversations engrossed
in hilarity or tears or common
reflections of family ties

I ache all over

this is pain — the kind
that creeps in unexpectedly 
with death at its heels — uninvited
I need the calmness of 
your presence and I 
will never have that again

there are some still
adamant about this
treacherous virus being
a hoax, but let me
testify

I’ve lost the sun
moon and stars and
nothing about it
is fake

yours was a love that
held me when I 
needed to be held, that 
comforted me in all
my weariness

who will love me 
like that again?
there are no replacements;
I knew the greatest
familial love there is next
to a mother and child

and I am glad I did

maybe you’re my angel
and if it is true — spread 
your wings around me,
ensure my actions won’t 
be what they shouldn’t

I long for you near and
can’t have you — never, 
ever, again


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.