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Filtering by Tag: grief

Love the Grieving Ones

jasmine banks

Loss is something we talk about rather haphazardly in our communities. When loss happens folks often check in frequently in the beginning. Within the first two weeks of a loss folks are often acutely aware of the pain their friends are experiencing. Some people check in because they want to know details. Others are genuinely sorry. Others feel obligation.

Regardless the motivation most folks not immediately impacted by the loss taper off.  Unfortunately, it is about that same timeframe (2 weeks) when the rawness of loss usually swells up. By then the friends are gone but the pain... the pain is turned up to a ten. During the holiday season we often feel our losses deeply. 


How to Love the Grieving Ones

  • give them space to talk. ask directly. would you like to tell me about what you are feeling
  • create space for their emotional reactions- don't make it about you or how you perceive things
  • help your friend create "memorial space" for their loved one. letters, pictures, candles, etc serve as a physical space while your friend is figuring out their feelings about their loss
  • call their loved one by their names. don't say "loss" or "death" as a euphemism for their loved one. ask them the person's name, and use it
  • check in passed the two week mark. if their loss was months or years ago, ask them what they need in support of their grieving process
  • show them moments of love in your life. remind them you care about them and that love and joy exist and do (eventually) come back around after the sting subsides

How to Be the Grieving One

  • you may not know what you need because the loss is overwhelming, allow your friends to extend love
  • be direct once you know what you want. ask for space or for company depending on what you prefer
  • don't feel shame needing to telling the story of your loss over and over again. this is your brain's way of making sense of loss
  • don't get stuck. allow yourself to remain open to joy and happiness. even though you are grieving you don't have to force yourself to avoid moments of happiness- they can serve as release
  • make a plan. how do you want to remember your loved one? what things will you keep around to remind you of their presence
  • take inventory of your relationships. in the coming months you may be taking a lot from your relationships without giving much. this is okay. you are grieving... so make sure you have friends who are willing to give- and who will not punish you for you temporary inability to reciprocate
  • say your loved one's name. tell your friends stories about them. avoidance is the best way to get stuck and cause deeper emotional issues for yourself
  • RELEASE expectations. grieving has not timeline or trajectory. feel the feelings




How To Be Authentic Without Being A "Debbie Downer"

jasmine banks


I love that Saturday Night Live Skit! Rachel Dratch personifies that one person we all know who brings the level of a conversation down by offering the latest morose and depressing news. I've been that person. I've been Debbie Downer so many times!

In my TedxFayetteville talk I discuss the need to be authentic. I was surprised, after my talk, by how many people approached me and wanted to know what to do because "they were kind of depressing" if they were authentic. Here are my thoughts on the matter.


A Year After Suicide.

jasmine banks

Yesterday was the anniversary of the night when Vince called me from Micronesia. I knew what he was calling for before I even answered the phone. Teej was gone. Suicide. In some areas of the world suicide, or attempted suicide, is still a crime. I wonder how and why you'd punish a crime that is born from despair. Our world and our inability to face existential realities are dumbfounding. I think that is that hardest part about losing Teej: Suicide comes from deep deep despair. Despair is a place with no light. A place so dark, one would rather close their eyes forever than bear the weight of that darkness. So you close your eyes.  She was in so much despair. Her life, though, is markedly different. There was also so much hope and love.

I still can't clearly say how the loss of my dearest friend is shaping my life. It is hard to say with any loss, really. What I do know is I continue to live and honor her in how I live. I carry her with me. My child bears her name. Her drawing marks my body. The love she infused into my life cannot and will not be taken away. Suicide can do many things, but it can't shatter love.  I am working to move from allowing the loss of her life be the definition and into embracing who she was during the time I had her. She belonged to all of us, but most of all to Africa and words. I'll go there one day there and I will write.

If you need help, reach out -> to anyone->to everyone-you aren't alone Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 9.33.45 AM

pic 001 pic 003 teej Teej and Isaiah Teej Teasdale