Still Processing: On Navigating Grief And Change In A Healthy Way
The last year and a half has been the most challenging and bittersweet experience to go through for many people globally. Nothing feels the same since the pandemic hit, losing loved ones, sacred romantic relationships falling apart, excessive jobs loss, employment uncertainty, and coping with the ongoing mental health crisis. It's all just been extremely overwhelming, to say the least. And I know that human beings are the most adaptable species on Earth but the downpour of complex events to work through all at once feels disheartening.
It may sound a bit odd, but I believe that this season is a pruning season for better yet to come; but before we can access any of it, we have to learn to be present with our emotions and tend to them by focusing on our internal self-care. The lessons we have learned within the last year and a half are going to equip us and generations to come to be more proactive and emotionally prepared to work through trauma because we started seeking the healing generations before us needed.
See some of the mindful activities I've been doing to tend to my emotional and mental health during this season.
Processing Grief During the PandemicSticker Love GIF by BrittDoesDesignGiphy
Grief is one of the most transformative emotions we all experience as human beings. What has my mind in loops regarding grief is that it looks so different on each individual. For some people, it's hard to miss, and on others, it's hard to spot; but we all go through grief one way or another. Most people, inclusive of myself until recently, would often associate grief only with losing a loved one or losing a significant lover or friend. But as I dive further into investigating grief, I'm learning that it's so much more than just losing loved ones – as if that's not enough to work through. For example, the new normal of predominantly working from home for many people is a form of grief as well. I miss getting ready for work daily, doing my hair in cute styles, adding touches of make-up, and my favorite part of it all is reading books during my commute.
So what has this pandemic taught me? Never get too comfortable with anything or any person because it's all temporary.
You can love without attachment, boundaries are necessary for every relationship, and it enables us to figure out more things alone and become more self-sufficient. No one person can be your everything, you need different things from different people, and it's a healthy way to analyze where some people may be a better fit for a job than others in various areas of your life. Also, grief is a tough emotion to work through. Just because you were there with another person who knew that person as deeply as you, it doesn't mean they didn't experience it differently; you need to be open to respecting other people's version of processing grief.
Grief is equivalent to letting go of what was, and I think letting go is needed from time to time; when you are too controlling of anything, it becomes problematic. Release what was and trust that God will equip you with better.
The other option is leaving a situation because you didn't have another choice and finding something better that suits your necessities in that season. Either way, don't be afraid of change; embrace it; your intuition/spirit never lies to you.
Processing Transition During the PandemicChange neon light signagePhoto by Ross Findon on Unsplash
Transitioning is such a bittersweet emotion; it's like for beginner swimmers, one foot in the deep end of the pool and one foot in the shallow end. It raises a lot of uncomfortable emotions, inclusive of fear, anxiety, doubt, etc. Being forced to leave jobs or schools because of the pandemic is far from easy, but I promise you learning a new skill or two to adapt will not hurt you; it will strengthen you in more ways than one. Transitioning feels even scarier in these uncertain times because nothing feels set in stone because of Delta and COVID cases going back up.
But in reality, we never had control of anything, we just always assumed we did, and the pandemic made me realize that.
If this season taught us anything, it's to take your time and do the best you can in anything you choose to pursue. Everything will show its true colors over time, whether it was a seasonal run or for the long haul; either way, each experience is supposed to teach you something new, so pay attention to the details. This is what's going to carry you through shaky transitional timeframes in life. You got this. You have autonomy over your life!
Self-Care Tools To Equip You During the PandemicBlack Girl Love GIF by Shalita GrantGiphy
Let me tell y'all, ladies, if you think external self-care is where it's at, then you've been lied to as I have been. Getting your nails, hair, lashes, massage, etc. done is all great in the moment, but internal self-care is for the long run. Being more honest with yourself regarding what you're feeling can initially be very uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you become with exploring your emotions and getting to the root of things.
During this season, my five go-to self-soothing things to do are: journaling freeform or with journal prompts, getting back into therapy, meditation (slowing down the mind is essential to be more present), talking to specific friends to talk through rough patches, and keeping my bible close.
There are also these essential emotional intelligent card games that I've been playing by We're Not Really Strangers, where you can play the card game with a friend, or you can use them as journal prompts to dive further into your self-awareness and healing. Some of the most helpful card games I've been hooked on are their self-awareness kit, the healing edition, the break-up kit, the forgiveness edition, and the self-love edition.
Take your time and be gentle with yourselfPhoto by Content Pixie on Unsplash
Just because a lot of places are opening back up doesn't mean you need to be running to every open door. Take your time and listen to your body; it's asking you to slow down for a reason. Leave space to process your grief, some things are easy to let go of, and others take more time, either way, allow yourself to process these emotions and stop trying to rush yourself to what may look like the next best thing until you deal with what's going on with you now. The right opportunity won't miss you, so don't go running around with that scarcity mindset.
You can and will step into what's for you once you honor what's going on now. Give your mind, body, and soul the empathy you extend to others and heal your wounds.
For more inspiration, self-care, and healing tips, check out xoNecole's Wellness section here.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Ajeé Buggam is a content writer and fashion designer from New York City and an alumna from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She specializes in writing about race, social injustice, relationships, feminism, entrepreneurship, and mental wellness. Check out her recent work at Notes To Self
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went to social media to share their Thanksgiving holiday with followers. The pair were surrounded by family and friends Thursday, and both posted how grateful they were to be with the ones they loved. Yet this comes on the heels of Pinkett Smith’s whirlwind of negative opinions and critics forecasting her book would be a flop.
Despite the negative feedback she received, Worthy, Pinkett Smith’s memoir, still debuted at #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list on October 25. The greatest backlash she received was centered around her relationship with Smith and the fact that the two had been living separate lives since 2016.
The commentary about their marriage overshadowed the reality that this book is ultimately about her journey to self-worth and the path she’s had to take in order to get there.
Social media comments about her book tour ranged from, “Me counting all the times Jada woke up and chose to embarrass Will Smith,” to podcasts like The Joe Budden Podcast saying, “Take me out the group chat,” which was a sentiment shared by many celebrities and fans alike. Yet, a point made by comedian KevOnStage proved that even though people say they don’t want to know about the Smiths, they’re secretly interested and want to know more.
Since the Smiths were wed in 1997, people have been fascinated with their marriage, and rumors about their marital arrangement have always been a topic of conversation. People continue to speculate that the pair is gay and swingers, and even new allegations have come out that Smith and Duane Martin shared an intimate relationship at one point.
However, despite their consistent united front throughout their marriage in recent years, Pinkett Smith has borne the brunt of backlash in the couple’s relationship, from her entanglement with August Alsina to Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards to the recent truths she’s shared about the couple’s marriage in her memoir.
Individuals are consistently running to the internet to support Smith and villainize Pinkett Smith, from podcast guests saying things such as “She doesn’t like Will, she likes the lifestyle” to deeming her “mean” or "manipulative" because of her facial expressions and demeanor.
Likewise, when you have hosts of daytime talk shows such as Ana Navarro saying, “I think she’s having a relationship with her bank account,” insinuating Pinkett Smith only shared stories about Smith to increase her book sales, it begs the question of where was this same energy when Smith released his memoir?
In Will, Smith discusses both of his marriages and how, in relationships, because of his upbringing, he needed constant validation and praise from his partners to feel secure. He also shared the reality that Pinkett Smith never wanted to be married, just as she never wanted the huge estate they share in California, but he wanted to give it to her despite her feelings about it.
Smith admitted to creating this family empire that only further boosted his ego and what he wanted his legacy to be instead of actually asking his family what they wanted or needed. People praised him for his vulnerability and said his book was an inspiration.
So how is it that one book about a person’s family, upbringing, and journey to self is praised, and another is villainized? The glaring thought that comes to me is, does likability often trump accountability?
People love Smith and his “good guy” persona; he’s always been an attractive, charismatic man that people can relate to, so even when he speaks about the way he mismanaged his marriage and family, it’s seen as growth. On the contrary, because Pinkett Smith doesn’t constantly fawn over him and shares how miserable she was in their marriage, she’s the villain.
People still blame her for not stopping Smith from smacking Rock at the Oscars and share their sentiments about how she embarrassed Smith with her entanglement with Alsina. Though this is a celebrity couple we’ve all followed for years, the question must be asked, how much accountability must Black women be subjected to in relationship to their partners' actions?
Why is it that the media is more interested in the marriage between Smith and Pinkett Smith than her childhood, or the fact her memoir consists of writing prompts, meditations, and methods for other women to find their sense of worth?
Could it be that the larger society doesn’t value Black women having the tools to find their own sense of worth? Or is it that Black women are expected to accept whatever is given to them regardless of how they feel or what they want?
The exclusive interview with Eboni K. Williams (@ebonikwilliams) and Dr. Iyanla Vanzant about if she would date a bus driver seems to have a lot of people talking. You can watch her response tonight on #theGrio. Catch the full interview, here: https://t.co/ctxE0zKFWj pic.twitter.com/BhIO52T2fg— theGrio.com (@theGrio) May 2, 2023
When Eboni K. Williams shared that she wasn’t interested in dating a bus driver, the internet blew up with individuals saying that Black women need to be less selective with their dating prospects. The commentary around this conversation shed much light on the reality that this demographic is expected and invited to settle in love if they actually want a life partner.
Black women aren’t often given the space to find their joy, fulfillment, or even self-worth because of the responsibility they’re forced to acquire in order to support their families and communities. Yet, “high value” Black men speak vehemently about Black women’s masculinity and inability to submit. We’re often inundated with podcast guests sharing that they’re not impressed by our success and are uninterested in our aspirations.
Black women, from a young age, are taught to place their community first and cater to the men around them regardless of what they do or how they behave.
We see this when young girls are told to put on pants when male relatives come around, we experience it when domestic violence survivors are encouraged not to press charges against their perpetrators, and we even see it when Black women face backlash for dating outside of their race.
The way Pinkett Smith has been treated since sharing the truth about her life and journey of discovering her self-worth is another example of how the world isn’t receptive to Black women being their most authentic selves.
It’s another example we can hold up to illustrate how Black women are expected to be magical but not human.
Even with this article, I’m sure there will be many who want to argue why Pinkett Smith was wrong in her narrative, but at the end of the day, it was her story to tell, and no one has more authority to share her lived experience than her.
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