Carrying grief: A personal odyssey through grief by Aphelele Mtwecu

Carrying grief: A personal odyssey through grief

by Aphelele Mtwecu

On the 18th of August, we laid my grandmother to rest. As we collectively grappled with the turmoil of preparing for a funeral, on the early morning of August 20th, my dad died. And there we were, repeating the process at an intensified level. You’ve heard of families enduring consecutive COVID-19 losses? The kind that occurred within days or weeks of each other? I always wondered about the weight of that experience until the universe decided it was my turn to intimately understand it.

This back-to-back experience has left me, in not so many words, broken and battered. The past three months of my life have stripped me of the people I love, my hope, and my joy. As I sit here, contemplating how to move on with the grief and begin to pick up the pieces of my life, I find myself caught between handling grief, managing transitions, making decisions, and doing so with diligence. Life’s awkward aspect is that, like waves, it moves forward, and you must roll under one and move on. It doesn’t stop you from healing or allow you to wallow for a minute. The world awaits your downfall, expecting this to be your breaking point, while others hope for you to pick yourself up and move on. Amid these debacles, you’re there, waiting for yourself. Try not to be too hard on yourself yet remind yourself of your resilience and foundational principles. What does Aphelele do in this situation? What would she do? Honestly, I just want to turn this part of my life into a movie script. I’ve never felt so intimately close to darkness; it’s attached itself to my body and soul. I nurse it and coddle it; it feels so familiar, like home. I don’t even know what I am talking about, really.

Life is weird, man. One moment you feel like you have a percentage grip on your life—just a grip. The next, you’re disillusioned, realising you never did. Life is not yours to grip; it’s for you to move on with, whether you’re ready or not. No amount of counselling, however, can begin to take away an aggrieved heart or a battered soul. Loss is an experience that leaves us lost, hopeless, and questioning our entire existence. It’s a permanent break-up, reminding us never to get too attached to the cycle of life. It’s not ours to keep. But what makes us, if not for the love we experience with the birthing of these souls, the lathered experiences they give us and leave us with?

It’s the demands for me—the pressing demands—that won’t leave me alone. But I also cannot leave them alone because I have to move on, even though I want to sit for a while and bask in the reality that my father is gone, hoping and waiting that through this bask, acceptance and peace will come. It hasn’t, it didn’t, and it won’t. And so I have to move on with this heaviness, this bundle of grief, hoping that through my journey, I get to shed it slowly, just so that it’s not so heavy anymore. It stays with me, but perhaps one day, when I look at it, it won’t hurt as much.

Akunzima bawo (It’s so difficult, Lord.) I don’t even know what hurts the most this season. I just hope I don’t lose my mind. You know those stories you hear about people who have experienced traumatic events? When people speak of them, they say things like, “She was fine until… shame, man,” and when you look at that person, all you see is someone who got trapped in a moment and has been trying to find their way back. Months, years, and decades have gone by, and they have never been able to come back.

I take solace in the fact that loss is a universal experience, and as we draw towards the holiday season, many people will be spending their first Christmas without their loved ones. As you carry grief and witness those who are carrying it, I encourage you to give them grace. There won’t ever be a day when they get over it. They just learn to live with it.


About the author:

I’m Aphelele Mtwecu, 2016 Activator, a 31-year-old female. As an ambivert, I am a content writer, activist, and creative. My true passion lies in youth development, transformation, and making a meaningful impact. Every day, I encounter the world, seeking healing, innovative solutions, and fresh methods to drive social change on my personal journey. My work and advocacy reflect my unwavering commitment to fostering positive change.

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