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Grief In Today's Black Americans

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Black People are more familiar with grieving and its magnitudes than any other ethnic group. And even as a boy I noticed Black People's grieving differed significantly. Attempts to understand why, through research and personal experiences, led to insights from seeing a relationship between four things--which I call the "Atmosphere of Despair" Complex (ADC). First, the Slaves created the ADC's components of: (1) Despair; (2) an apathy of "It's my fate!"; (3) a "Frozen" mindset paralyzing any desire to better their personal, lifestyle, or work situations; and (4) a lifestyle branching out of Hopelessness. Second, I believe this ADC pattern was handed down as a major Slave Survival to today's Slave descendants. Third, I suspect today's descendants tend to become "Complex Chronic Grievers" by remaining chained to the slavery related ADC. Fourth, the ADC + chronic present turmoil + each new grief experienced by a today's descendant are what account for their prolonged, deep, and complex grief. Suppose the ADC is like is a clam (actually a mollusk making a pearl) and each new grief layered on chronic turmoil is like an irritant. The clam, while rolling the irritant, coats it with thin layers of secretion from its own body. As a result, each new grief (the irritant) is nourished and fed with layers of the ADC (secretions from the clam); takes on ADC features; and thereby becomes ADC's "step-child." In other words, most Black Americans' grief is not an independent unit but rather is part of an entourage of problematic past emotions. This distinguishes their grief from other ethnic groups.

Typically, "Complex Chronic Grievers"--since the beginning of slavery--have been mentally unable to grasp everything involved in their new and layered griefs. Each grief-producing loss, lack, or obstruction is likely to worsen a person's chronic juggling. I propose these complicating problems stem from the shadow components of the ADC and the varied mindset and behavioral effects each fashion. For example, the Despair component may increase their susceptibility to griefs and/or to exaggerate their intensity and magnitude--the "If I don't have bad luck I wont have any luck at all" syndrome. The "It's my fate!" component may reflect a "what's the use" pattern of "giving up" super-easily in all aspects of daily living--especially if there is not complete success on their first half-hearted try to achieve something. The paralyzing desire component for self-improvement automatically follows. It kills curiosity and strivings to be educated, live in healthy conditions, and learn the skills needed to make enough money to live a comfortable life. The Hopelessness component drives the Griever to take risks having an extremely low chance of success, thereby causing more problems. Failure in such areas alone, displayed as chronic "juggling" inside the status quo, is fertile soil for unhealthy Grief Emotions to bloom. Because this is all they know and because "everybody" is doing it becomes "proof" to them of this being a "normal" pattern. Thus, those who have a better way--a "too hard" a way--are seen as "weird."

This situation has spurred me to expose, though reluctantly, how I privately deal with Grief and its ADC shadow components. To illustrate grieving points, pieces of a vignette pertaining to the death of my beloved Pekingese dog Titan will be used. He was euthanized on 10/28/11 after 17 years of being my buddy. Since he is the source of crystallizing the following thoughts on the subject of Grief, I honor him by assigning his name to my method of grieving. The Titan Method is presented, not to recommend it, but to give interested individuals an awareness of there being an organized process useful for self-control and effective management during grieving. It would be thoughtful and healthy for each individual to modify the Titan Method to what is comfortable or to even replace it completely. To do this properly requires pen and paper to discover what is done right; what was useless; what could have been done right; what not to ever do again; and what to rearrange/recombine that works well.