The Grieving Room

Getting out of my city for a small adventure

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

If you’ve ever felt trapped in your own home (Hello! … to probably all of you reading this newsletter) and got out to take a quick road trip by yourself during this pandemic, you’ve probably benefited more from it than you know. This past week has been a topsy-turvy one. However, it has not been one I couldn’t get through without a few short breaths and prayers to God to remind me I am still alive — still “movin’ and groovin’” and making this thing called life work for me.

After only visiting my mom, cousins, and a few friends and teammates here and there throughout this pandemic, I ventured out to a small town about 45 minutes away from where I live. Perhaps you’ve heard of Mount Airy, North Carolina, the birthplace of Andy Griffith? Many have stated the town is the blueprint for Mayberry on the Andy Griffith show. And let me just tell you — you know you’re in the country when a tractor pulls out in front of you to take over the road — never mind the fact you were there first.

Excuse me, Mr. Man on the tractor, please have at the entire highway strip — my pleasure — I do like my life.

During the trip there, I also saw a man riding an ATV 4-wheeler on the highway. No harm, no foul, homie. Please do you on this highway — on your 4-wheeler. I was in a zone, listening to Wale via Pandora, and neither one of these people was going to kill my vibe. I had one thought in mind — make it to my friend/co-worker’s home in one piece, and make it there in one piece, I did.


Friendship — what a beautiful thing.

I pulled up the rock-covered road to my friend Sarah’s place, put my car in park, got out, and embraced her for what felt like at least two minutes. I had not seen her in a year and eight months. I then hugged her mom, whom I probably haven’t seen in just over two years — then her dad, and then I gave my full attention to her sweet Golden Retriever puppy, Lily.

Dogs are amazing beings. If they instantly take to you, this says more about you than it does the dog. And I was truly happy to make Lily’s acquaintance. The excitement she had for me during our first meeting matched how Jernee reacts when I come back home to her. I was putty in her paws, and I believe she knew this.


Sweet Lily and I. She wouldn’t give me enough time to take off my shoes. She is the sweetest pup ever! Photo Credit: Sarah Culler. Used with her permission.

After I settled into loving Lily a bit, we ordered food, went to pick it up, and came back to my friend’s place to eat, chat, and enjoy each other’s company. I love being able to communicate with people freely — love it when there’s no filter and everyone can be expressive. Sarah and I have always been this way — at work — and outside of work. Her mom is just the same — salt of the earth people who do not bite their tongues, but have enormous hearts, too. It is in the hospitality offered. It is in the words spoken. It is in the love that is felt.

We then toured the city, which did not take long. We drove “Downtown” so I could see some of the major sites, the Andy Griffith mural, an old theatre, and plenty of people outside taking advantage of the beautiful weather today lent us. I am truly wary of crowds even more than I was before the pandemic, so this tour was in my friend’s car as we cruised her city without the hustle and bustle of the craziness a Saturday around hundreds of people can bring. I still like my space and I don’t want many people around me.

Time flew by so quickly, I headed back home to be with my own little monster. The trip was well-deserved and definitely long overdue. I needed it.


It comes and goes. I understand now.

I had a moment of wanting to text Chrissy some photos or send her a brief note that said, “Look, cousin! Look at what I’m finally doing,” and it’s almost as if I have to reset my brain every time this happens to me. I know I cannot talk to her anymore. I know I cannot send text messages to her phone number that I simply cannot bring myself to delete from my phone. I know there will never be another hug, kiss, or trip to Florida to bask in her presence. My mind knows this. It does.

My heart cannot catch up. It can’t. But I am still giving myself grace. I am still being gentle with myself. There are better days ahead and getting to them consistently again will take time. It will. I am patient with myself. I owe it to myself to be as patient as I am being — it is necessary.

But I understand now how grief can come tapping at your shoulder when you least expect it. I wave hello to it — offer it some coffee, break out the good china, and allow it to sit for a moment with me. I will play some music for it, cook it a good meal, take it for a walk, but I refuse … at this point now to allow it to drag me down. Could it be Chrissy speaking through me? I know it is. And I am listening.

You must go on adventures to find out where you truly belong. — Sue Fitzmaurice


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 published in The Grieving Room Newsletter via LinkedIn.

The Grieving Room

Feeling the lows and the highs and learning from them

I have had an okay week — some lows and some highs — some things I am learning from and enjoying the journey through them, but life is still life. Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of embracing a friend/old co-worker of mine in an actual hug for what felt timeless. We both needed it. I hadn’t seen her in six months, and her visit was one that had been planned, but we switched up what we wanted to do because of the high temperatures. I had been in the process of finishing an early Memorial Day dinner when she arrived, so in my heart — in my mind, I knew I’d either feed her or send her home with a plate of food.

Weekends have always been the days I’d spend trying to attain some downtime, but they usually become days for running errands, getting stuff done for Jernee (my 14-year-old Chorkie), visiting a few family members, and anything else that needs my attention. But to host someone I care about, someone I love, in my home for a few hours reminded me of the Before Times. Pre-COVID, I made it a point to feed a friend or loved one occasionally, to allot space and a place for them to rest when they visited, and to experience all I could with them while they had been around.

The visit had been what I longed for — a few hours in the presence of a kind-hearted person who is a brilliant conversationalist and has worked in the medical field for a few years more than I have. We talked about life, how we’re managing this on-again/off-again global pandemic, and what we’re doing to take care of ourselves.

The week also brought about time for me to work on some writing. And during this time, two pieces of poetry, one work of flash fiction, and an essay had been produced. My younger cousin (Chrissy’s daughter) visited as well. Connecting with her — being around her — simply listening to her did my heart good.

Through every moment of this week that sent me spinning out of bounds a bit, I circled back to where I needed to be — in the center. I am here now.


Feeding the heart and not only the mind.

It is a blessing when you can provide a home-cooked meal for someone. Cooking is an essential part of life. If we can, we do it. And if we are good at it, we probably do it more often than others. The process — the creating and preparing and pairing of ingredients is an art form. One could get lost in the dance — in the rhythm of maintaining the flow if one is not careful. It is my aim whenever I cook for someone to cater to not only their stomachs, but to their hearts, too.

A photo of a home-cooked meal; bbq beef ribs, potato salad, and collard greens.
Memorial Day dinner; bbq beef ribs, potato salad, and collard greens. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Above is the meal I gingerly packed and handed to my friend before she left my home; barbecued beef ribs, potato salad, and collard greens. We began our afternoon releasing — sharing what we needed to share with one another, and by the end of her visit; I had an overwhelming calmness stirring within me. She gave me more than just her time — she gave her heart too by coming directly over right after work to sit awhile with me.

I think we are at the stage in our friendship where moments such as the one we shared are a welcome occurrence. We search for these moments with others, and some can provide them — some cannot. I am grateful to have allowed food, faith, a pleasant conversation, and some tears to restore me.


The writing comes, it always comes.

And I sit with it when it does. Something moves me. Something shakes me. Something pushes me to create and use this incredible thing we produce by taking vocabulary and painting it firmly on the canvas of our lives. The tragedies of the last few weeks have had my stomach in knots — my spirit is completely defeated. I felt anger. I felt pain. I felt an undeniable sense of wanting to run away from my country to be somewhere else, anywhere else, but here. I wrote about it.

I find it disturbing that as human beings; we are moving from what can connect us to what almost always causes a further disconnect, and we settle there until the next best thing comes along to do more of the same. Words still move me. They have a space in my heart, and that will never change. I can use any genre of writing to express what I feel. And the beauty of this alone should be cherished — should be pedestal’d. I wrote about that, too.

When prompted, I spill over from the fullness of fiction and I birth characters who are fully formed and come complete with their own cores with whom my readers can and often connect. A prompt word, “shadow” landed me in the lane to create the third part of a mystery/thriller flash fiction series I have been nursing. It came to life.

I also wrote about the power of a home-cooked meal and how it is not just food we are transforming from its raw form to a cooked form for consumption, we are transforming the lives of our friends, family members, and acquaintances when we can give them our hearts in a meal. If I cook for you, you are in my heart. I want you to be well. It helps me to be well.


Building bonds and strengthening hearts.

I had not seen my late cousin Chrissy’s daughter since she was twelve years old. Nearly twenty years later, we hugged as though our lives depended on it. Her life abroad, distance, and everything else that comes into play to throw a kink in plans occurred. But now, there are no excuses for us. With her in her 30s and me in my 40s, we are forming a bond I know her mom dreamt up and sent to us cosmically.

To hold her tightly and say, “I love you” repeatedly as she said it too, almost drew more tears from me. Happy tears, though. At one point, I said, “When I let you go, I am going to miss this — miss you.” Taking a brief road trip with her to take her where she intended to go for her visit to North Carolina had been the link I needed.

I did not know my Saturday — this Saturday would catapult me back to a high point — one that I won’t soon forget. I no longer have Chrissy, but I see her living on in her daughter, and that — that is an amazing thing to witness. Through her child, I will respect her existence. It has been a gift showering down on me over the past few months.

Love is a wondrous thing. If you have it, whenever you have it, keep it close.

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. — Richard Bach


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 published in The Grieving Room newsletters via LinkedIn.

The Grieving Room

Good food, good times, and good grief

Homemade lasagna (non-traditional), steamed zucchini, and steamed squash. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

If you recall from the previous entry, I spoke about the desire to cook more. I wasted no time in making this happen. This past Sunday, May 15, 2022, I made lasagna for dinner. I did not do a traditional lasagna, and to be honest, most of what I make as typical dishes are “spruced up” a bit to reflect my tastes and what I enjoy eating. I had your usual game players in the mix, though; ricotta cheese, lasagna noodles, and tomato sauce. I opted for ground turkey as opposed to ground beef, and I also added steamed spinach with fresh garlic, and a cheese blend (complete with cheddar, Colby-jack cheese, and mozzarella.

I steamed zucchini and squash, keeping the seasonings simple for the two; pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. As I prepared my dinner, I could feel the rhythm coming back to me — I was in extreme focus mode, and everything felt right. There was a connection I cannot quite explain. It was as if I was moving from the overwhelming phases of the previous week and leaning into what felt as if it would be a wonderful beginning to another. I offered a few words here and there to my dog as I paraded around in my kitchen doing what I enjoyed and missed most.

I was so happy with the results of the overall meal; I wanted to call my cousin and tell her. And that’s when it hit me . . . again. I could not call her. I could not share this moment with her, and I moved through the temporary sadness of it — knowing I could send up a prayer for grace, patience, and the ability to understand life’s finalities. I smiled, nodded, and said to myself, “She knows. She knows.”


Good grief, and the transition.

As I reflect on what took place, I am inclined to believe this was — all of this could be, the “Good Grief” stage.

Good grief is described by Cam Taylor as:

Traveling through the grief cycle without getting stuck or stalled.

Embracing the messiness and range of emotions during loss and recovery.

Leaning into the pain of loss and learning more about yourself and others.

The above is a part of “the journey we take as we work through the emotions associated with loss and sorrow”, which is “the grief cycle.” What I was experiencing as I realized I could not call my cousin to boast about my meal without completely and totally breaking down was good grief. The reality of it was facing me. I accepted it. I embraced it. Finally, I moved on from it.

Of course, I could not hear the joyous laughter on the other end of the phone as I raved about a meal I had never prepared that came out perfectly, but I remembered the times upon recollection when I could hear her voice — when I could talk to her about such things. It was a peaceful moment, kissed by subtle sadness, but peaceful.


Good food and what it has done for me.

I will rewind and share what I made for lunch on the same day as mentioned above. I knew I wanted a salad, and not just any salad — a salad similar to one I would normally order from a favorite local spot. I purchased the ingredients earlier that morning and began preparation for it around 12:30 p.m. I bought thinly sliced chicken breasts, 1 sweet onion, Green Oak living lettuce, 2 cucumbers, and ranch dressing. At home, I already had shredded cheese, apricots, and spinach.

A Spring Salad Collage. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I used my air fryer to cook the chicken; which I seasoned lightly with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cajun seasoning, and fresh garlic. Once the chicken was nearly done, I began chopping up my vegetables and fruit. I was listening to the birds sing as they do around that hour of the day, and I had been in a delightful mood. Shortly after I was done with the vegetables, a close friend of mine called, and we talked until the chicken finished cooking.

I explained to her I was making myself a salad to which she expressed how much she loves salads, too. Next time she comes up, I will make one for her. I sent the photos above to her with a couple of others after we finished the call so she could see what I’d prepared for my lunch. It felt good to share something that was bringing me bits of joy — especially with this friend because she has known loss incredibly detrimental to her spirit more than once. I lean on her for an understanding of it all, sometimes. She knows the heavy weight this type of pain produces.

I did not think jumping into cooking or preparing good food again could inspire, move, shape, and encourage me. But it has. I will take all that it brings.


Good times, happy moments, and the gift of family.

Today, I went to visit a few of my cousins. I am blessed to have some family nearby, especially little ones. My youngest cousins in my area are ages four and six. The two of them are bundles of laughter, joy, energy, and come fully loaded with tons of questions. Entertaining is an understatement for these two. Whenever I am sad, a quick trip to be around my family and the little ones lifts my spirits. I do not take these hours of happiness for granted. They have been exactly what I have needed of late.

My best friend has also kept my incoming messages on the up and up with photographs and videos of her new puppy. It does my heart good to see this sweet, four-legged “Lil Miss Busy Body” pop up throughout the week at moments when I could use a pick-me-up. I have filled each day this past week with seconds, minutes, and hours of things to keep my mind steady and my heart from breaking.

I have gathered each event and logged them neatly into my memory bank. I will have each one as a reminder for retrieval when the roughness of the waters creeps up again. They will have no welcome mat at my shore.

This afternoon’s quote applies to today’s entry:

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.¨ — Desmond Tutu


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 The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.

Motivational Affirmations to Self

Below, you will find a few affirmations I’ve been saying to myself daily and sharing them to LinkedIn. I hope you find them helpful, just as much as I have, and others too.

Each day, I try to find something positive to remind me that life is still worth living. These affirmations come to me because I think about my cousin’s incredible spirit and her undeniable knack for making others feel good and because I have also been reading/listening to a few “Grief” devotionals via my Bible app.

I’ve another appointment with my therapist next Tuesday, at 7 p.m. Lord knows I love our sessions. I think I am going to need this one so much more than any other because this week has TRIED my patience. Seriously. I am glad I have my memories, these thoughts, some tools, and a loving and supportive tribe.

Healing is a journey. I think I am on the right path.

NaPoWriMo #24

Changes in Time

My friend, Angel and her handsome son, Jonathan. Photo used with her permission.

It had been years–how
many, I don’t know, but I
had missed her voice–missed
hearing her infectious laugh
pour itself through the phone.

We shared short stories,
little tales, and snippets of our
lives instantly. The first few
seconds of the call
flooded us in giggles and
questions drenched in,
“Are you still there?” “Did you
do this?” and “What age did you
get a car?”

We were trying to remember
our childhood days–the times we
shared that connected us
decades ago. She is the sister
of a friend who is the sister of
another friend and it amazes me
that after all these years, I still
know and love all three sisters.

Isn’t it funny how changes in
time grip us and pull us into
its grasp clenching on until
we acknowledge its presence?
We can move on to different
places, don different faces, but
our hearts remain the same.

A phone call led to an
overflow of positive recollections
and positive experiences.
And I needed that more than
I thought I did.