Saying Goodbye to The Grieving Room

For those of you who subscribed to The Grieving Room newsletter and have followed me throughout this journey for the past four months, thank you.

Grief is a lifelong process with many obstacles and various structures and forms and I doubt there will ever be an endpoint, but I feel as though the newsletter itself deserves an endpoint.

There will always be something creative flowing within me to work through grieving, whether it be poetry, creative non-fiction, or a memoir-like essay, but at this time, I have shared what I can and I will continue to learn what I can about grief and grieving and grow with every experience.

If you recently subscribed, you can find all entries in the links below via LinkedIn or Medium.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. It will not stop, but I am headed down a new path and this is my place to get off and possibly transfer.

Peace and blessings.

LinkedIn or Medium.

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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.

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Summer Trees Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Pictures tell the stories we can’t seem to share

I had one rollercoaster of a week. Work was hectic until Thursday afternoon. We had major issues with our phones and there had also been some connectivity issues which made our jobs extremely difficult. When your main priority is to answer phones and schedule patients for radiology scans and invasive procedures, not being able to effectively and efficiently do this for nearly a week had been mind-altering … and not in a good way.

I don’t know what had me on the verge of breaking down on Wednesday afternoon— it could have been the frustration of dealing with the issues with the phones and software or the weather (it has been raining off and on here for nearly two straight weeks), but I felt a weight overcome me that I just couldn’t shake.

Thankfully, I was keying in contact letters for unresponsive patients and had a moment to allow the tears to flow. 

When this form of emotion hits me out of nowhere, the first thing I want to do is … text or call my cousin. It is still hard for me to force myself into the action of not thinking about her to call or text — I am trying but it is far too hard to remove from my mind.

I often wish there was a switch — one I could flick off — one I could use to remove the thought from my mind so that it never occurs again because when it happens, the sea of sadness becomes my wading pool.

I am moving through it all as best as I can. One thing is for certain, I am glad the workweek is behind me.

A few photographs and a visit with one’s mom can renew the spirit

One thing that did help me through this week had been taking pictures of various things that make me happy or cause me to pause and reflect on life’s happenings for just a moment. The following photos are the results from this past week.

Summer Trees 2 Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt. 1 of two (the cover photo is also one) photos taken during a morning walk with Jernee from this past week.
Summer Trees 2 Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt. 1 of two (the cover photo is also one) photos taken during a morning walk with Jernee from this past week.
Jernee Timid, relaxing on the floor at my mom’s house. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Jernee Timid, relaxing on the floor at my mom’s house. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Jernee Timid in her car seat on the ride home from visiting my mom. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Jernee Timid in her car seat on the ride home from visiting my mom. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Cloudy Pool. I snapped this shot coming up the stairs of my building. Another cloudy day — just before the rain. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Cloudy Pool. I snapped this shot coming up the stairs of my building. Another cloudy day — just before the rain. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
My mom’s plant — in the hallway of her building. I have no clue what type of plant this is. I just love it. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
My mom’s plant — in the hallway of her building. I have no clue what type of plant this is. I just love it. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

To shake some of the “stank” off me from this past workweek, I took a trip to Greensboro, North Carolina, to spend some time with my mom. Visiting my mom allowed both me and Jernee to truly kick back and relax at her place while we gave her our utmost attention. 

After dealing with everything that took place this past week, seeing her face and listening to her talk 100 mph did my entire being some good. 

I think Jernee agrees too.

Appreciating the beauty all around me

Now that the past week is behind me and a few emotional moments have been curbed, I am bracing myself for whatever is to come for the rest of this weekend. 

I don’t plan on doing too much for the rest of the day, and the only things I intend to do for tomorrow are to wash my hair and cook dinner (I am still thinking about what I will make). Aside from the normal little things I do on Sunday, these will be the only two add-ons.

I have enjoyed looking up, around, and within my line of sight to capture God’s creations, however major or simple. Sometimes we need pictures to tell the stories we cannot seem to share. I think the photos above have epic tales to tell. Don’t you?

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” ― Eudora Welty

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

©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.

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Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Learning to love the dead without forgetting them and experiencing life’s gifts in waves

If I have loved you and lost you, I will not forget you. It is impossible to do so. But I have a bad habit of letting loss stay with me more than I think it should. I cradle it — provide comfort for it — beg it to stay for more than just a little while. And therefore, it is hard for me to live life at its highest point because there is always an air of extreme sadness hanging over me whenever I lose someone I love or was deeply connected to.

What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us. — Helen Keller

When I am assessing a situation and I have my wits about me, I know how to maneuver through that situation. I can design plans to resolve issues and problem solve to the best of my ability for a considerably desirable outcome.

With the death of a loved one, though, there is no immediate resolution on how one should grieve/heal/cure the pain that pops up at all hours of the day without warning.

A favorite song can help with the aches. An animated movie can send me directly to my happiest place and distract me. Time well spent with Jernee, my dog, sometimes gives me the calming energy I need to push through the roughest parts. But I have not found the master plan to deal with death appropriately, and I doubt I ever will.

And my cousin’s death has settled in my spirit — becoming one with my entire identity, and there is no breaking away from it. Upon reading and researching timelines, expectancy dates, and most appropriate grieving process lessons, I came across something referred to as Complicated Grief.

The grieving person must travel through the grief process, and should be allowed to move through it at their own pace. For some people, the grieving process can go on for a long time. This happens more often when a person was very close to the deceased. Sometimes this leads to what is known as complicated grief.

If what’s considered to be “normal grieving” does not occur, or if the grieving goes on for a long time without any progress, it’s called “complicated grief” or “unresolved grief.” Symptoms of complicated grief might include:

Continued disbelief in the death of the loved one, or emotional numbness over the loss
Inability to accept the death
Feeling preoccupied with the loved one or how they died
Intense sorrow and emotional pain, sometimes including bitterness or anger
Unable to enjoy good memories about the loved one

And after going through the explanation and details of complicated grief, I know it does not relate to me. What I am experiencing is just good, old-fashioned grief, coming in waves. Or a continuation or replay of the stages or me getting past one stage and reverting to it unbeknownst to my doing so.

I am still learning to give myself some grace — to be gentle and patient — to feel every emotion as I should and not ridicule or belittle myself for remaining in one stage longer than I believe I should. I am getting through as best as I can, and this is the most important part.

I am protected in my happy place

Earlier this week, I watched Back to the Outback on Netflix and enjoyed every moment. It’s an animated film about several “dangerous” creatures determined to find their way back to lives they’ve never known before being placed in captivity for showcasing to draw crowds in Australia. Hence the title, Back to the Outback.

If I am watching cartoons or animated movies, I am centering myself in my happy place where I feel most safe. It is the place I never want to leave and only do so to continue with adulting.

If I could, I’d be a professional connoisseur of animated films or an animated film critic. I envy people who actually get to explore this type of lifestyle — to do what they love all day long and remain happy during the process.

It is hard to pursue life’s goals, be financially stable, and enjoy life to the fullest when most of your day is dictated by something you used to love, but only do now in order to make ends meet.

Here’s the trailer to the movie, just in case you might be interested:

Back to the Outback, Netflix, ©December 2021

My therapy sessions remind me that life is for the living

And if I am honest, this is one thing I have to link myself to.

I am alive. I should be living.
I am alive. I should be living.
I am alive. I should be living.

I have made it a point to say the above affirmation to myself occasionally. Sometimes, I need a reminder. Other times, I am far too busy doing things that require me to stay above water and in the right frame of mind. I drift into a removed place where I am dreaming more than I am living.

My mind is full of Do This and Do Thats and I rush to make sure I can fit everything I need to do on a common weekday. It is exhausting. This — what I have been doing for the last three years, is not living. I am merely surviving.

“You crossed my mind the other day, Tre, as I was listening to the radio and an advertisement played about a writing group retreat. I instantly thought, ‘This would be great for Tre’!” — My therapist.

And as we discussed the advertisement she heard, my heart became full of hope and determination. But my therapist can get a little carried away and excited and she does not remember the source or any contact information but stated she will have a pen and paper ready to jot it down when she hears it again.

She has been great in circling me back to key points that have been helpful over these last three years, and more importantly, these last five months. I am meant to live. I should be out there living.

Shouldn’t all of us who still have air in our lungs and desire in our hearts be doing the same thing?

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. — Friedrich Nietzsche

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.

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Jernee Timid after a morning of making me worry myself nearly into a fit. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Finding inspiration wherever I can

I signed up for overtime this past Thursday for work this morning, and low and behold … Jernee had other plans for me — for us. The Little Monster’s history is riddled with relapses because of GERD and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. I am no stranger to these abrupt changes in our routines, but it can be frustrating and equally taxing.

About 6 years ago, I would silently blame Jernee for many of the things I missed out on because of those relapses. There have been several concerts (Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The Isley Brothers, and Mint Condition), trips, and just the ordinary weekend trip away or visit to my best friend’s home I have had to cancel because attending to my dog came first.

A sudden illness sparked by whatever in this sweet baby has always halted any plans I have made. One would think I wouldn’t be as strict on planning as I am, given the fact many of my plans have been shot entirely in the ground, but I do still plan. I am optimistic about what I would like to do and often want to see them through.

I have learned to live with these occurrences. There is no way for me to know whenever she will fall ill, just as there is no way for me to know when I will not be at my best, either. Taking it in stride whenever I am able helps me to deal with her illnesses and now, her age.

I have a voice in the back of my head, though, that sometimes whispers, “Think of all the things you could have done if you weren’t caring for something/someone else.” And on these days, it is harder to get past the reality of it and move forward.

This morning, when I noticed her slow pace and the constant smacking and licking of her nose, I sprung into action. Had we overdone the morning walk? Was there something in her water bowl I overlooked? Did she lick something off the grass I didn’t quite see? What now?! What?! What?! What?!

I picked her up partway home, scaled 3 flights of stairs, and monitored her just as I have done many times before this morning.

Regardless of these things, Jernee inspires me. She has given me several essays, haiku, and other poetic forms, and memoir-like creative nonfiction stories to share. She has been endless amounts of joy for me — knowing when to paw at my face gently or land a wet kiss on my cheek.

She is an overseer of sorts, always geared up for my protection, and she will face any dog or person of any size. She loves me that much. Her health is my concern and if I have to take time away from grinding and enjoying some brief moments in life, I will continue to do it.

If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am. — Charles Yu

The Good Place and writing through grief

This past Monday, July 11, 2022, I had the day off to recover from the busy weekend we had last weekend. A couple days before my kid sister’s arrival, at the recommendation of a good friend of mine, I began watching The Good Place on Netflix.

I will be honest. I made it to episode 3 of season 1 and had thought I’d had enough. I sent my friend a text message basically telling her I did not want to watch something that spurred a great deal of anger within me. She mentioned how she had a hard time getting through the first few episodes as well, but soldiered on to get to the core of the series.

I laid off watching it for a few days and returned to it after I had time to calm down and work through some of my emotions regarding the first 3 episodes. The satiric connotations and subtle humor did not hit me instantly, but when I allowed myself to engage in episodes 4 through 10, I understood where the series was going.

Now, as I am nearing the last few episodes of the last season, I appreciate this series more. The concept of trying to do all we can to inspire good within ourselves and others while we’re still alive has an undeniable, strong meaning.

We will not get multiple do-overs as the characters in The Good Place. We have this life — this one life — to make a powerful statement. To do good and be as kind, understanding, loving, and charitable as we can.

Of course, while watching this series, I thought about my cousin. I wondered how she would react to this series and if we’d bounce ideas off each other to bring about more creativity and love into this world. And this is where it hit me — where the pain settled in for a while, and I had to write about it.

If you were to tell me
this would be my life
ten years ago, I
would’ve uttered some
common phrases like,
“The Devil is a lie” or
“You can’t predict the
future,” and I would’ve
swiped my tongue gingerly
across my two front teeth.

Nothing can bring hell
like the death of a loved
one — like the sound of
one heart breaking into
a million pieces and scattering
itself throughout your entire

How does it feel to walk
around with your insides
regrouping while you
find your center?

I Wish You Were Still Here, Tremaine L. Loadholt

Loss will always happen. There will always be people in this world who make us cringe. There will always be moments when we want nothing more than to have as many do-overs in life as we can, but the truth is we have the time we have now to do what we need to in order to be and get better.

How many of us will choose this?

Looking forward to a much-needed release

I have therapy coming up this week. I have questions and if there aren’t answers, I will have to learn to be okay with this. But I will ask those questions. Two of those questions revolve around my job and what I believe is best for me or how much more should I dedicate myself to giving what I have and what I can to patient care and service.

I am also struggling a great deal with wanting to take on writing/editing/content creation full-time, and not landing any job opportunities revolving around the above. I read a quote somewhere by someone I will paraphrase: “A dream is a dream. Sometimes it’s not meant to be true.”

How many of us will actually land our “dream job?” How many of us will live out our lives doing what we absolutely love above any and everything else and also get paid for it? How many of us are genuinely happy when we do land that “dream job” and not just sharing the notable moments while we skirt about the less significant ones?

This week is nearly behind me, and I want to be sure I step into the next one with a happier and healthier heart in tow. I have to make that happen. No one else can.

A track that hits straight to the soul and settles in your heart … Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues.

Marvin Gaye, Inner City Blues

Inflation no chance
To increase finance
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die

Make me want to holler
The way they do my life
Make me want to holler
The way they do my life

Hang ups, let downs
Bad breaks, setbacks
Natural fact is (Aww honey, that)
I can’t pay my taxes

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.