I’m cooking gumbo and here’s why:

Death can be painful or rather, it often feels that way. However, it doesn’t have to be. 

It doesn’t have to carry that weight. There is a way to transcend the pain of death, but achieving this requires a shift in our understanding of it. 

It is crucial to grasp the significance of the phrase “what we think we know.” It implies a difference between what we believe and what we truly understand. Believing we know can sometimes hinder our ability to truly comprehend, leading to an illusion of knowledge. 

Undoing what we know is challenging, but it is easier to unlearn or loosen our grip on what we believe, provided we are honest about it. So, what do we truly understand about death?

These past weeks have been deeply emotional for our community. Many of our artists, musicians, and singers are mourning the loss of Dre, our friend, brother, and colleague. 

His absence at gigs, on the porch for drinks, or in a comforting voice on the phone is profoundly felt. While all losses are significant, this feels different. 

Dre was part of our creative community, and his influence extended far. Yet, stepping back, we can see similar experiences in other communities. 

Remembering Dre isn’t the same as grieving him. Let me propose a theory: What we share, we multiply.

When two or three gather, their collective strength is formidable. It can move the divine and even that which isn’t divine. 

Attending those services, I felt the weight of countless friends and associates. My tears were for the pain echoing in those spaces. It was like sound waves with the force of a tornado. 

I urge us to share memories without confusing past moments with future losses. We cannot remember what didn’t happen, although we may trick ourselves into believing otherwise.

Death is inevitable. We will all die. I am sure of it. Yet, the uncertainty lies in the “when.” 

I will die. Of this, I am still certain. 

Nearly a decade ago, my aunt, one of only two siblings remaining from six, shared a sobering thought with me. She and her sister acknowledged that one of them would outlive the other. This certainty has no predictable end date, and it is this uncertainty that brings pain. We yearn to know when and how. 

Some do know, often in moments of fatal illness. With this awareness, we can plan, albeit reluctantly. Yet, we still try to imagine a different outcome. 

And sometimes, we seemingly cheat death, prolonging it through significant turnarounds. But eventually, death comes for us all, whether in our 90s, 50s or before puberty.

Grieving is natural, but it is essential to understand why we grieve. In my book, I wrote, “What is grief, except the belief that love is lost?” Regina King, speaking of her son’s suicide, aptly said, “Grief is love with no place to go.” These statements capture the essence of grief from different angles.

When we lose someone we love, whether through death, life or the end of a relationship, we feel a profound sense of loss. We have invested special emotions in a special person, and now we are left with a surplus of feelings with nowhere to direct them. 

It is no wonder grief feels overwhelming. It’s a love left unreturned, emotions left untethered. This realization leaves us feeling impoverished, distressed and alone.

“The only thing separating grief from joy is a moment of awareness,” as stated in “The New Human: When The People WE Love, Love The People We Love.”

So, how do we navigate grief without betraying our deep love? We learn to unlearn what we think we know. We find a place for our seemingly wasted love by understanding that love doesn’t require qualifications. It emanates from within us and only becomes homeless when we withhold it.

Commissioned, a contemporary gospel group, once said, “Love isn’t love till you’ve given it away.” If you seek release from grief, embrace the love around you. 

Let it flow freely. Love whoever you’re with right now. Let’s gather, share love, lift each other up, and grow together beyond the gig.

I’m going to cook us some gumbo. And let’s come together and love each other. 

Let’s lift each other.  Let’s find words of wealth and expressions of worth to heap on each other. Let’s get better at being together, not just for the gig.

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