How Our Grief, Like Our Lives, Is Unique To Our People

Loss is a universal part of life, and for our people, it’s compounded by the realities of anti-Blackness. The five stages of Black grief explain how different grieving is for us.

How Our Grief, Like Our Lives, Is Unique To Our People
Via Wikimedia Commons

1. Despair

Loss is universal, but in Black grief, despair acts as a form of hopelessness that loss is likely despite how well we protect our communities. This despair deepens with the realization that being Black often contributes to loss of life.  

2. Self-blame

Self-blame is a normal grief reaction, but it can feel all-consuming because we live in a society that has never kept us safe. It’s a guilt that isn’t ours to carry. Anti-Black systems and the people that uphold them are to blame.

3. Move to Action

Taking time off to rest while grieving is a privilege often not afforded us. Loss creates challenges that complicate the homegoing and grieving process, and for some, it means having to take action when all they want to do is rest.

4. Endurance

After things return to “normal,” grief persists, sometimes intensifying. The need for support increases, but because many move to action to survive, those not directly affected by the loss can perceive the bereaved as “strong,” creating a barrier to care.

Our grieving requires community long-term.

5. Survival

In a system stacked against us, loss can be compounded by economic hardship, causing necessities, such as housing and food, to interfere with the grieving process. Many of us are forced to accept the loss and continue persevering through it and the systemically racist realities of Black grief.

We should always do us and never feel pressured to grieve how they tell us to.

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