I recently viewed a video on Facebook related to the business of funeral homes. It triggered many emotions within me.
Unfortunately, at age 29, I have helped to plan two funerals for individuals close to me. When I was 15, I helped my mom plan my grandmother’s funeral in 2007. My mom was an only child. I planned my mother’s funeral in 2019. I am also an only child. These two experiences top the list of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
After I lost my mom, all I wanted to do was sleep and disappear into my bed. I didn’t want to go through the formalities of taking care of everything or trying to smile in people’s faces. My world had literally been turned upside down. Depression and grief were kicking my ass. However, I know that carrying out these responsibilities is a display of love for the deceased.
However, this display of love costs a lot of money. If you are lucky, your love one will have things in place to assist with the cost. My grandmother’s funeral service and burial totaled around $8000. My grandmother did not trust banks. Remarkably, she managed to save enough money to pay money for her own funeral. I kid you not, she hid the money in small bags in her favorite recliner. When my mother and I counted the money, it was in excess of what we needed for her final plans. I am still in awe to this day.
My mother always believed in planning at least to some extent. For the longest, I remember going with her each month to pay on a funeral/life insurance policy. Her total funeral costs totaled about $4500. She had enough insurance to cover her service as well which I am grateful for.
I shared these personal anecdotes to show how expensive funerals can be and how important it is to have a plan for yourself and your loved ones. I had nothing but a pleasant experience with the funeral home that I used for both my mom and my grandmother. It also helps that the owner and my mom went to high school together and knew me all of my life. Death is hard. However, having a plan/insurance can at least ease some of the financial burden and stress.
I have tried to avoid being vulnerable like the plague. All of my life, I have never had the luxury of being “soft”. The world does not allow girls (women) like me to be soft. Oftentimes, we aren’t the ones who get rescued. There aren’t fathers who are functional enough to protect us and shield us from the world. They are battling their own demons. We have to fight tooth and nail to rescue ourselves. This fact leads to the building of lifelong walls that are almost impossible to tear down.
However, I am opening up to the idea of being vulnerable. Losing my mom forced me to open up a level of vulnerability that exposed my emotions for the world to see. I’ve always believed that grief should not be for public consumption. At my mom’s funeral, I fought with everything in me not to cry at the service. I made the mistake of touching her body in the coffin. Her body was cold just like it had been when she was fighting for her life in ICU…hooked up to a ventilator. I couldn’t contain my grief after that.
As I age, I am learning to tear down walls I built in my youth. I’m more open to asking for help and admitting my mistakes. Who knows, maybe I’ll even end up letting go enough to fall in love…we’ll see
When I was 17, I first lost my hair. A new medication did not agree with my system. I had terrible side effects including severe mood swings and the loss of my hair. Thankfully, I was able to switch to another medication that has not given me any adverse effects in the past 12 years.
To mask my hair issue, I began wearing half wigs at 17. A half wig is a hair unit that is made to be blended with your natural hair. This blending helps to camouflage the unnatural hair line of the half wig. When I first started wearing half wigs, I would neglect my own hair. I would do almost nothing to maintain it. I would cover the front with massive amounts of gel so that it could blend into the half wig. Not a good idea. My hair went through this for years. The result was a damaged and tangled mess.
Fast forward to a few years post-college, I began wearing more full wigs. I would moisturize my hair underneath and put them in either flat twists or two strand twists. Then I would apply the wig cap and the full wig. Unfortunately, the combs found in some of these wigs and the hairpins I used created some friction with my actual hair. I would see thinning along my hairline and where the combs had made contact. It seemed like everyone else was able to grow long and thick natural hair by wearing wigs as a protective style.
Regardless of the damage, I continued to wear the wigs. I felt more attractive and professional while wearing the wigs. I would alternate between curly ones, straight ones and wavy ones. If I had a job interview, I would always wear a wig. I never thought that my natural hair was appropriate enough to wear in a professional environment. It was low density and pretty thin. No one wants to have hair like that.
In recent years, I have started embracing my natural hair more often. My hair reminds me of my mom and grandmother’s hair. I care for it by washing and conditioning it on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. I even started locs at the beginning of 2020 (I removed them after about three months due to not being able to get them redone during the COVID-19 salon closures). However, even with this appreciation, I think I will always keep a bag of wigs. I like being able to switch up the look of my hair on a frequent basis. I just want to make sure that I don’t start back using them as a crutch…a crutch all of the time
Hair, especially black hair, has always been inherently political. What is your hair experience?
Just a reminder that not everyone survives their fight with breast cancer. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-90s. I was too young to remember most things. I just remember climbing into her hospital bed and asking her a million questions. Thankfully, she received chemotherapy and a mastectomy and was able to survive.
Fast forward to 2016, my mom had started having issues with her eye. At the time, I was finishing up grad school in Ohio. After being sent from doctor to doctor in Eastern NC, she finally was referred to a specialist at Duke. In August 2017, we learned that the cells found in her eye had origins in her breast. This meant that my mom had breast cancer once again that had already spread to other parts of her body. Although she had received a mammogram each year since her initial diagnosis, there was and is no commonly accepted screening practice of checking for cancer metastasis in previous cancer patients. By the time breast cancer metastasizes to your bones and other organs, it is terminal.
My mom went through a series of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Thankfully she had the best oncologist in the entire world, Dr. Jeremy Force. However, in conjunction with other complications, she lost her fight on January 2, 2019.
💕This post was made in honor of my mother and other people who have lost their lives while fighting breast cancer. There is still more work to do in terms of breast cancer care and research.💕
I used to think that 30 was old. In my mind, 30 was the age in which I would need to have my entire life together…professional, social, emotional, mental, romantic and financial. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
Society does a good job of shaming people for not having everything figured out by 25. I’m guilty of pushing those beliefs on myself. I have learned in these 29 years that life is about continuous growth and development. No one truly has everything together. There’s always room for improvement. However, it is important to stop and be thankful for all that you have accomplished. Life is not always pretty. Even hard moments have contributed to developing your resilience.
I’m going to make it my priority to live and love as hard as I can. I’m looking forward to enjoying the journey. #thisis29
Okay, so by no means am I the queen of frugality. I have a bad habit of spending unnecessary amounts of money on eating out and other miscellaneous things. However, I try to save a penny when I can…sometimes
Here are three tips to save money on items:
1. Dollar Stores and Aisles When possible, shop for items at dollar stores or on the dollar aisle. For example, essentials like toothpaste, deodorant and soap can be found at heavily discounted prices. I use Lady Speed Stick deodorant and Crest toothpaste. I am able to find each for a dollar in these places.
2. Stop Being Brand Name Bougie All of the Time So I’ll admit, for some things, I am brand loyal. Examples of these things include Dove soap, Listerine mouthwash and Clear Care contact solution. However, I am more flexible with other things. I am a fan of buying store brands. At any given time, you will find store brand frozen and canned vegetables, eggs, milk, dry beans, cooking oil and baking ingredients in my home. I even take advantage of the generic forms of prescriptions and over the counter drugs. Often times, these significantly cheaper store brand/generic items are identical to name brand items in taste and formulation.
3. Store Discount and Rewards Cards Let me be clear, I am not referring to store credit cards. I am referring to store discount and rewards programs. These programs allow you to take advantage of the discount price on items or allow you to accumulate money through each purchase. Most grocery stores and pharmacy stores allow you to sign up for their programs in-store or online. The programs usually come with a plastic key card to swipe during your purchase. However, you can also simply enter your phone number to link you purchase to your discount or rewards account.
My heart broke when I learned of the death of Chadwick Boseman. He had battled terminal colon cancer for the past four years. He was such a phenomenal actor. Some of his most notable roles involved him portraying historical African American figures (James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson…). He brought such a dignity and depth to each role.
Undoubtedly, his role as T’Challa in Black Panther will forever be in the hearts and minds of everyone…especially African Americans. He managed to complete this movie while enduring numerous treatments for his cancer. I can only imagine the amount of pain he was in. I can only imagine his level of fatigue. Having watched my own mother battle end stage cancer I am just floored at his resilience and determination.
My heart aches for his family and friends. He is resting with the ancestors. Well done young sir, well done