The Grieving Room

Understanding what happens and why while grieving

On late Sunday night and into early Monday morning, a dream awakened me. In that dream, I could see a crew of siblings I’d grown up with in my neighborhood as clear as day; a sister and her two brothers.

We played kickball, dodgeball, and many other outside games, and raced to our respective homes before the streetlights came on.

We attended the same elementary, junior high, and high school. I have not seen them since I was in my late 20s, or early 30s, maybe? Why was I dreaming about them?

In the dream, the focus had been on the two brothers. Although the sister was present, she did not have a strong role — it’s like she made a cameo appearance only and moved along without a word.

I jumped up from my bed, not too sure why I had this reaction, and began searching for them online. What the search led me to was the death of one brother back in October 2011. He was 35 years old. I was 31.

He’d also been the sibling I communicated with the most. Although he was older, we had a lot in common. Not only that, we simply gelled well. We had our fair share of quips and subtle arguments from time to time, but we were always right back outside a few days later, enjoying what young life and innocence offered.

The obituary stated he’d died when his “health had failed.” 35 years old … I’d spent many of my childhood years dodging dodgeballs, kicking kickballs, running home before the glimmer of the streetlights with him, and having not seen him in over 15 years, I just sat with myself and this news.

I cannot describe how it made me feel. Initially, pain struck me as well as curiosity. It hurt to know he was no longer alive, even though the last time we saw each other was over a decade ago.

I had also been hit with the incessantly annoying want to know what happened. Why him? What started the path down to the reality of his health failing?

My therapist encourages me to study the why but not to overthink what could be simple

Naturally, I discussed this dream with my therapist this past Thursday, August 18, 2022. I love watching my therapist as she sits back in her chair, cups one of her hands on her chin, tilts her head, and says, “Okay. Where is the why in this? Why do you think you had this dream after not having seen them in so long?”

The question stumped me when she first asked it. I had trouble connecting the dots. My mind had been moving so fast, trying to wrap itself around it. I was dealing with the “how” so much more than I was dealing with the “why” of it all. I could pull nothing from within me.

She allowed me several moments to sit with the question and it finally hit me. “I thought I had gotten to a happier place with my grief — that I could say it does not hurt as much as it first did — I am doing better. But this … now this.”

And we talked through it. Her next question really drew the emotion out of me. “What do you feel in you right now, knowing that a childhood friend is gone?”

How does one even address this question? Especially if one has had multiple childhood friends die. Some before we’d even made it to our 30s.

I don’t want to say I am numb to it because surely I am not — I still feel each loss completely and wholly and the pain isn’t any different. My response … “I am saddened by it. I am hurt. I wish I would not have found out this way, or that it did not happen. Why did I have this dream? Am I supposed to reach out to his brother … his sister? He died so long ago.”

And the tears fell.

It all hit me like a Mack truck a few moments later. I didn’t give my therapist time to respond. My old friend died in October 2011. My cousin’s birthday is coming up in October. I had already not dealt with the month of October well because my maternal grandmother died In October when I was 23 years old.

Plainly put, October is a struggle month for me. There are days in that month when my focus is completely and utterly off, and I cannot move through them as I can months before it.

My maternal grandmother’s death had broken me in places I did not know breaking was possible. October brings darkness for me — so much darkness, and my cousin … she had been the light. Every single year — she was beautiful, unfathomable, undeniable, uplifting, and consistent light.

So, what will this October lend me this year? In all honesty, I am afraid to greet it but I also cannot worry about something over which I have no control. And I will try not to have any predestined wallowing moments piling up, either. I have to press forward. I have to move through it as best as I can when it approaches.

I will continue to give myself the grace and understanding I need.

I am aware that you worry about many things that you can’t control. There’s so much we would like to have but we cannot really hold. You have to be kind to yourself. You have to be kind to yourself. — Zooey Deschanel

How I got through the week embraced by some entertainment

I have made it a point to watch more television. For years, I had immersed myself in reading, writing, editing, and viewing a couple of hours of television per night and a few more during the weekends, but of late, this form of entertainment is keeping me above water.

Throughout the week, I allowed myself to be enchanted and excited by Gnome Alone (on Netflix), intrigued and motivated by Prey (on Hulu), angered and emotionally shaken by The United States vs. Billie Holiday (on Hulu), and finally, distracted, saddened, yet uplifted by Over the Moon (on Netflix).

And with the roller coaster week I have had, each of them has been a welcome reprieve.

I have learned to allow myself moments of joy regardless of how they are introduced to me.

I may not know the “why” but I will probably find out soon

Finding out about the loss of a childhood friend the way I did has definitely bruised something within me. I won’t lie — it was crushing waking up to learn of the death of someone I had been close to while growing up. I am still struggling with thoughts of, “why didn’t we keep in touch?” “What prevented us from spending more time together as we aged?” “What would it look like for me to make attempts at reconnecting with his surviving brother and sister?”

I do not have the answers. But I will tell you I am sitting with this loss. I am honoring it with the time I believe it needs. I am looking to the spirit of my cousin to cradle me as she has been doing over the last six months. And that is all I can do for now.

That is all I will do.

Grief changes shape, but it never ends. — Keanu Reeves


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 on LinkedIn.

Home-cooked Meals Are an Act of Love

If I cook for you, you are in my heart

Beef Ribs dinner: Heartwork. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

On Sunday, May 29, 2022, I began cooking a meal I prepped on Saturday evening. It was a meal I had not had in a few months (maybe longer) — one that had become such a staple in my home — one of comfort. I smiled as I mated the beef ribs that had marinated for 16 hours with the crockpot. I glowed — I beamed. Everything in me felt magically conducive to my existence, and this all came from a meal that I would savor 6 hours later. The art of cooking is one I thought I had lost, but I am happy that the beauty of performing the act is still second nature to me.

Washing collard greens is a song — a powerful melody. The water rushes over each leaf, my fingers gently smooth over the pile of collective goodness, and dumping the dirty water signifies a cleansing. This is a ritual. If you have “cleaned greens”, you know exactly of what I speak — it is fulfilling. It is captivating. A few minutes become an intense love ballad — a walk amongst the clouds. Losing oneself in the act is almost inevitable.

And when they have been cleaned to perfection and seasoned to taste, cooking them is a slow and steady process — a somewhat divine intervention between you and the outside world. While you wait for them to change from green to a darker version of green, and simmer completely down, the smell birthed inside your home is heaven. I wouldn’t say it’s a fragrance I’d bag and sell, but it is definitely one I could see being used as a calming solution — an antidote for the crippling disease we now know as continual pain and suffering.

Finding the time to create a home-cooked meal for myself and also for others is entering once again in my life, and it feels so good. These meals are an act of love — an act of care. They are a way for me to gift a small piece of myself to someone else.


How I learned to cook.

I started cooking at a young age — age 9. My dad was the “cook” in our tiny family and he had learned from watching his mother and grandmother. Recipes he’d grown up with laced our home with their smells. Crab casserole was a weekend excursion into intense flavor and the soul of the sea. Tuna macaroni salad was a flavorful party that could take place any day of the week. Barbecue chicken and an accompaniment of string beans and potato salad would show up on some Sunday afternoons after church, and I would lick my chubby fingers clean — thrilled to consume such a gift.

My dad was not the type of man to shoo me away when I would enter the kitchen. The kitchen was his haven, yes, but he welcomed me into it. He would show me how to dice onions and bell peppers. We started off slowly and cautiously. I was often in awe as he worked his way around the appliances and cabinetry of our kitchen. He had been a performer, and I was his audience. Our kitchen . . . the stage. I spent many hours watching this man provide home-cooked meals for us, and I am glad I did.

I did not know the lessons would be so short-lived. By the time I was twelve, my parents divorced. My mom was not the best cook. Her style was more of a boxed presentation of pre-baked goods and items, sprinkled with a hurried dash of “eat this or nothing”, and I knew I’d rather have nothing or cook for myself. And cook for myself and my brothers, shortly after, I did.

I took what my dad had taught me and carried the lessons of his love language with me into every year of my life. And now, these lessons are helping me with the grieving process — they are opening my eyes up to a love I did not recognize when I was younger. My dad cooked for us because he loved us. He showed me how to cook because he wanted to pass down this kind of love to his oldest child. It is an act of pure love that many of us take for granted.

At 42, I can testify that cooking has pulled me out of some dark places — the comfort of knowing my hands created something delicious and sustaining is an assurance that I will have with me in my elder years.


If I cook for you, you are in my heart.

Sunday also found me entertaining an old co-worker/friend of mine. We made plans to meet up and do something productive, however, the heat that came along with this day of rest was unbearable. When she called me to see if our plans were still on, I informed her it was too hot to do any outside activities, and most places are too crowded on Sunday afternoons to be safe, and her response was, “Well, I’ll leave work, swing by to pick me up some lunch, and come to your place if that’s cool.” And it totally was.

Before she called, I’d already cooked the greens, and the potato salad was also done and getting what we call “a chill on it” in the refrigerator, and the ribs were still mating with the crockpot — almost at their most tender. I walked Jenee, my dog, cleaned house, and sat down to reel in a sense of comfort before her arrival.

This friend, I had cooked for more than once. When we still worked together in the last department at my job — a prominent radiology imaging center in my area — I would bring plates of food to work for her so we could have lunch together. She would also do the same. We had grown to know and love the various aspects of each other’s cooking and our differences and styles, too. Having her visit not knowing that I planned to send her home with food, was the high point of my day.

As the time neared for her to arrive, I sat in my kitchen. I braced myself. I had not seen her in six months and this meeting would be much longer — trapped excitement almost caused me to burst. She was walking toward my building when I looked outside my window. I walked swiftly down three flights of stairs to meet her. We embraced and held onto each other and rocked from side to side.

Hugging for Black people isn’t just hugging. We can take it to a whole new universe. It is a method of healing — a practice we had been shown before we could speak or walk or fully hug someone else. It is a pull you into a safe space and not let you go until you know what the other person is feeling. It’s deep love. It is a language we had been taught to speak and we do it beautifully. And I need this language now more than ever.

After we hugged, we trekked up those same three flights to where she could find rest and comfort at my kitchen table while she ate. We talked, we reminisced, and we cried. The two of us have had some heavy things happen to us in the last year, and the trials keep stacking up, yet we are still taking on every single day — braving them and finding our way through.

About two hours passed, and she had to leave so she could take care of her mother and family. I said to her, “Let me fix a plate of food for you to take home.” I cannot describe the smile that lit up her face. I have no words for it right now, just know that I saw my friend shift moods and my mood changed because of it. The giddiness was there — the power of love was there — the relief of not having to think about what to make for lunch the next day was there. All because I love her enough to feed her — to make sure she could cater to herself, too.


Food is a pathway to connection.

Being able to spend some time with my friend and cook for myself and provide some sustenance for her, too, was exactly what I needed. Food is the start of lifelong connections — it can create everlasting friendships that will see you through the roughest times of your life. If you begin a friendship with food or take it even further — by making that meal yourself — the enrichment of your life is paramount.

There are so many ways we can gift love to others — some simple, some extreme. I know one way I will continue to show the people in my life that I love them — that I truly care, will always be by providing a home-cooked meal for them.

Because if I care about you that much, I’m not only trying to make sure you’re full, I am feeding your heart too.


Originally published in The Narrative Collective via Medium.

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.

NaPoWriMo#7

Almost Little Sister


For Sarah

Almost Little Sister Tremaine L. Loadholt 2022 April 06

nearly four years ago, I
fell into the same path
as you, both of us wading our
way through the shores of
radiology imaging at a facility
known for its great service.
we became used to each other
over time — each day, a bit closer
to knowing more about the
person standing in front of
the other.

I have watched you grow from
a younger version of yourself
who always had to have her ears
to the ground of every goings-on
to a mature young lady who
stands up for what she believes in,
and reaches back to pull
someone else up to the same
place she resides.

you are a beam of intense light
breaking through the dark corners,
bolting yourself to the doors
of people’s hearts.
I love to hear you laugh which is
probably why I’m always cracking
jokes or doing what I can
to make that happen.

you are your mother’s child — strong
in your presence with a peppered
tongue and a big heart.
the way you’ve moved up in ranks
at work amazes me — shuffles a
heavier sense of pride to my
chest. 

I pat it once — accepting your
stride. I pat it twice — recognizing your
path.

this is a journey you were meant
to soldier — every day, you’re
carving into molds assigned to
deter you, and they crack in place
when greeted by your strength.
I know you know this but I would
slap someone in the throat
with a swift backhand if ever
your heart was torn in two.

it is the big sister in me
I cannot help it

and since you’re so much
like a little one to me, that
is inevitable.
keep gliding through the
difficulties of life with your
head held high and your
dimpled cheek facing the
heavens — let the blessings rain
down on you like they should.

you are deserving of
every last one.


For a coworker, friend, and now, little sister.

Your Poem From Me Request #12

The Giving Cause: I’ll Miss You, My Friend

It is said that God gives us
the people we need to live
the lives we live, and
he thought it best to give me, you.
I press on through this life,
ashamed sometimes, in pain
sometimes, and you lift me up
with your mesmerizing voice;
angels sit on your shoulders
guiding you into my heart
through song.

I know love. It is a beautiful thing
to watch flourish–to watch grow,
and when the time comes for
love to pack up and ship off,
I know that kind of love too.
I have you here with me,
little reminders to sift through
and enjoy.

Reminiscence is forthcoming.

Could I have been a reason for
this season in your life?
Or am I going to be the all-weather
friend who will never know the
word “goodbye.”
I pray I am the latter.
I need to be the latter.

Losing you would be a
detrimental blow to my growth,
and I love who I’m becoming.

You are who some people dream
about when they request a
companion, a listener, an avid
advice-giver, but in small doses–
something we can stomach.
You came when my body ached
from depression and broke itself
in two from anxiety.

You somehow restored me.

Blessings rain down daily
for me, and I know you
are one of them. You always
will be.
As you venture off to another state,
a new life awaits you–a new
world. I am happy. I am sad.
I am happy-sad and every bone
in my body wants to reject
the reality of it.

I will miss you, my friend.
But even with hundreds of miles
separating us, nothing can
or will ever remove you from
heart.

Thank you.

*Photo Credit: Photo by Ivan Samkov via Pexels


Thank you C. McKnight for requesting a poem to be written for your friend. It touched me deeply to be able to pen this for you on his behalf.

To learn more about Your Poem From Me: The Giving Cause, click here. Let me write a poem for you. I can give it life