Grief & All Its Stages


Mask On…. The look of denial, anger and depression. (My selfies from Jan-Mar ’17)

For the first 3 months of this year, I dealt with Grief and all its stages. 

Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something that’s important to you. You may feel a variety of emotions, like sadness or loneliness. And you might experience it for a number of different reasons. Maybe a loved one died, a relationship ended, or you lost your job. Other life changes, like chronic illness or a move, can also lead to grief.” – WebMD

5 Stages of Grief: Denial/Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance.

I was brokenhearted. When I could, I stayed isolated and kept my sadness to myself; I mainly stayed home and worked out. When I was out, I wore a mask to hide my pain, smiled in pictures, and pushed through as if everything was fine. But you could clearly see the pain in my eyes.

I prayed numerous times daily; for understanding, patience and healing. I even went through the phase of bargaining with God. I knew that healing would take time, but I was steady praying for an unnatural speedy recovery. That’s where my prayer for patience came in, that I could have it as God worked on me. I knew that I’d fully heal when He was ready for me to heal.

I talked about my issues with a handful of friends and family, but didn’t put what I was going through out there publicly (social media). I was so overwhelmed with sadness and anger, and that’s NOT me. That’s not how I wanted to be or live. I didn’t want to be trapped in my own depression, so I took another step in my healing and started seeing a therapist. My girlfriends can tell you, I was against seeing a therapist for years. Just like most people, I thought “I’m not that messed up where I need to talk to a therapist. I’ll just pray.” My thoughts started to sway when my best friend, who was a church-kid raised by 2 pastors and is probably the most Godliest person I know, told me that she has a therapist. She told me that although praying is great, there’s nothing wrong with speaking to a mental health professional about our issues. God has provided us with therapists to further help us if needed, so why not use them.

Therapy helped me greatly. First and foremost, I picked a dope one. She’s an older Black woman with an office in Inglewood, who has a relationship with God. I feel like those 4 facts all ready say a lot about her, lol. I vibe and relate real well with older women, because in my head I’m really 47 years-old, if not 52. I was able to talk to her openly about EVERYTHING I was going through, thinking, and feeling. I would talk to my friends the same way, however, their responses were always #TeamLeslie geared; “You deserve better…. You are enough…. You didn’t do anything wrong…. etc.

My therapist advised me objectively. Yes, I definitely deserve better and I am more than enough. But she would also point out what I was doing wrong, and how to adjust myself and see other perspectives. We dug deep into older issues and tied them in to how I react to issues now. We discussed practices that will help me either avoid situations like this, and how to cope if it were to happen again. After 3 sessions in March, I felt less sad, less angry, and less depressed.

In April, I got my life back. I made the decision to dig myself out of the dark hole I was in. No more feeling sorry for myself, no more emotionally cutting, and no more thinking that God didn’t have an upgrade for me. I traveled, spent time with friends and family, went to Coachella, and did all the things that made me happy. I also told myself that I had to let go of my anger and ill feelings by Easter. I didn’t want to enter a new spiritual season with leftover baggage from the last, and so I did. My focus was back on me; entering the next level of me and loving myself even harder than I ever did before.

Earlier this year, I wanted to share and write about exactly what I was going through, as I was going through it, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to expose my pain in real time. I wanted my story to be complete before I put myself out there. One thing I did do though, was PAINT. As I moved through the 5 stages of grief, I conceptualized and visually painted my feelings into 5 pieces; Denial/Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance. Painting is my therapy. 

As we move into this month, I have fully graduated into the stage of acceptance. Ironically, May is Mental Health Awareness month. Coincidence or faith? I like to think it’s one of Gods way of saying “See what I did there!” With an open heart, I can fully share my story and my art.

I hope this will help someone going through a rough patch. I’m a testimony. 3 months ago, I had the thought that my life was over, and that I was a failure, so what was my point of moving on? You’re not alone, we all go through it. And in time, you will get through it. Pray, and keep praying. Talk about your issues with your friends and family. If it really gets rough, it’s OKAY to seek professional help. Be patient, stay busy, and work on you. 3 months later and here I am… Happy, Blessed, Living, Out of a situation that I didn’t belong in & Fuck Boy Free. 

-Leslie R.