The effects of grieving can result in a variety of negative emotions including anxiety, stress, and severe depression that can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions, but for some of us who maintain these feelings, it can act as a catalyst for creativity. It is the art of sublimation, where PTSD meets creativity and we are left with the options as the author Nancy Springer would put it, to, “Conform, go crazy, or become an artist.” I chose the latter and it has been an incredible journey of hardship and healing ever since.
It began in 2012 after the devastating loss of my son, Kaidon where my family was forever changed. It left us shattered and some days we are still picking up the pieces. Through this loss we know that silence has never sounded so loud, with the absence of our child. We have learned to adapt to this new form of reality, much like I would assume living without an essential limb. We have since then had two daughters, Zoe and Koralyn who bring so much joy into our life but despite a popular belief after having children after loss, they have never served as a replacement for our son.
During that time, we had done our best to positively process our emotions in a healthy way but it wasn’t long before anger, bitterness, and resentment would ensue that would lead to many estranged relationships during this period. Instead of hitting the bottle or anyone else for that matter, I turned to spoken word poetry as a means to deal with my grief. Since then, this raw form of self-expression has brought me into classrooms, various venues, and The Jambalaya Writer’s Conference to unite audiences with the art of storytelling.
After independently releasing several spoken word albums, and self-publishing my first book of poetry in 2017 titled, “Fragments of a Broken Man”, I wanted to pursue a new artistic endeavor so in February of last year, I launched The Creative Coping Podcast without any real plan but to share my experience of post traumatic growth since the loss of our son. Since its inception, I have interviewed guests from around the country and abroad such as Australia and Switzerland who all share a similar theme — loss. I have also recorded episodes with my wife Jammie and our oldest daughter, Nevaeh.
On the episode, “Marriage and Mental Health” Jammie shares some advice for other bereaved parents – those struggling to just make it through each day without their loved one. She affirms, “It’s okay to not be okay. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, scream. If you need to have a day to yourself, have your mental break. Don’t feel bad for it. We all need it. Mental health is important and don’t be ashamed of it. Talk to someone about it.” The mind, like any bone can and will break under pressure and we know this first hand. What we are doing is trying to eliminate the stigma that surrounds mental health and give ourselves permission to grieve without judgment.
This is just some of what is discussed during each episode of these candid conversations but it’s not all dreary and dismal, we have a lot of fun during our interviews. You can hear the compelling stories of individuals who have used their pain for a purpose by honing their craft and helping others along the way. We are reconstructing our lives and finding a new normal. Sometimes that means renewing our identity and finding who we really are.
As Kelly Farley once shared on the show, “That guy you were before, you can’t go back to him, you know too much. That guy is gone and so what you have to do is figure out who the new you is and as soon as you can accept that, the easier the transition is because we are going to carry it to our grave. This is how we are, this is part of our identity, like it or not and we don’t but the reality is, the sooner you can accept it and make adjustments in your life, the higher the chances are that you are going to recover. You get through it but you never get beyond it.”
So to those who feel emotionally drained, weak, and defeated, you can, by the grace of God make it through, despite the odds that seem to constantly be stacked against you. For me and my family, we will always be missing a child, always healing, constantly growing in our faith and never giving up on each other. As broken as we may be, we are in this together. POV