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Navigating life through the lens of loss: things I’m relearning about life

Updated: Feb 28

Life is not black and white. Also, it is definitely not linear. To my dismay, many things that make no sense - which we have no control over - continue to happen.

Flowers in basket

This week I attended a sombre funeral of a five month old baby boy. He was born with a heart condition and had been in and out of hospital since. Following an unfortunate turn of events, he succumbed and rested. As the funeral procession went on, I could feel myself literally deteriorating in my seat. When I stood up, the wooziness, got worse. I felt weak in all my joints. It was too just much. Unbearable. I wondered “If I feel this way and my body is reacting in this manner, how is the mother feeling?” I could only imagine. Seeing the little casket made it worse. “How in the world did we get here?” “Why?”

I’m also struggling with the right words. Like, what do you say to a Mom who has lost their child? It feels like “my sincere condolences” or “I’m so sorry for your loss” don’t cut it. They feel flimsy to such a weighty situation. Honestly, I don’t have the vocabulary to articulate the happenings surrounding this particular situation. But what I can say is this, no parent should have to bury their child. Ever. Especially one whose bountiful life has not even taken off yet!

Since the time I heard of the little boy’s passing, “life is not black and white” kept echoing in my spirit. I guess the emphasis was to remind me that life is complex, always changing and one can never express certainty for a certain outcome. Of course, in all the things we go through, we always hope that things will work out just as want or need them to. However, some times that doesn’t happen, pushing us into a state of paralysis. A murky state filled with denial, anxiety, fear and despair.

Other times, when we are psychologically stronger, we are more accepting of the situations at hand. This happens when we have cognition that "life is not linear". When this happens, we are able to exercise our muscle of resilience. We are more adaptable and agile. Instead of going against the current in the quest for survival, we move in its direction and as we do that, the murkiness becomes lighter and increasingly bearable.

Life is complicated and trying to make sense of all events that happen in our lives or even around the world can become quite burdensome and overwhelming. In a hearty conversation I had with Bontle this week, she said something that made me think deeper before I could respond to her. She said:

You don’t have to think deep about it because you have God’s grace!”. ~ Bontle Ndhlovu

Listen, that statement stopped me hard in my tracks.

Woman on a paddleboard at Mauritius

It took me back to my reflections about life not being black and white and the fact that it is not linear. It really reminded me that God’s grace is what keeps us. His grace is what carries us through the murky waters that life so often dumps us in. The resilience we display is not because of our own strength but because He remains by our side as we navigate the storms of life. It is this grace that sustains us through it all.

Reflection points:

  • What about your life are you struggling to come to terms with currently?

  • What were you hoping for which hasn’t happened the way you anticipated?

  • How is this affecting you and your ability to function healthily?

  • In which area of your life do you need God’s grace? Take time today (in an honest, vulnerable conversation) to bring your requests to Him.

Update: I received a timely notification from one of my favourite Podcasts, Therapy for Black Girls on Navigating Grief after the Loss of a Child. Please do tune in to the episode (348) here. Please also share it widely with those who are affected by grief.

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