People deal with the loss of loved ones in different ways. A child who loses a parent strives to make them proud and works hard to achieve this (Clemmons, 2017, p. 170). A child will accomplish something and attribute it to a deceased parent. The death of Thandi's mother shook her to the core. Despite her mother being ill for a long time and her death inevitable, Thandi's life changed completely. Thandi found different ways to deal with the grief and loss of her mother. At first, Thandi avoided being alone with her thoughts. She would wake up early in the morning and leave the house as soon as her father left. Thandi would go the coffee shop and order cup after cup of tea and mill aimlessly only to go back to the house after her father did (Clemmons, 2017, p. 117). When she could not hide, she cried endlessly. She found comfort in her best friend Aminah who offered her a shoulder to lean on. All this time, Thandi was running away from her grief. On the night of her mother's burial, she drowned herself in alcohol if only to forget her sorrows for a minute (Clemmons, 2017, p. 141). Thandi also found a pamphlet called 'What We Lose: A Support Guide' which she turned to for advice. The pamphlet defined grief as a response to a loss and advocated for human touch (Clemmons, 2017, p. 110). Therefore, Thandi went to get a massage during which she cried till the masseuse hugged her and consoled her (Clemmons, 2017, p. 110).
Thandi admitted that she never fully recovered from the death of her mother. But she found solace by believing in the power of her mother's spirit. Thandi believed that her mother was somewhere looking over her (Clemmons, 2017, p. 114). Thandi attributed the good things that happened to people close to her as her mother's making. The promotion of a South African friend and the approval of a green card for a cousin were some of the miracles that Thandi attributed to her mother's spirit (Clemmons, 2017, p. 114). Grief can lead to people to do the unthinkable. Thandi created a ghost of her mother for her comfort (Clemmons, 2017, p. 115). The ghost of her mother in her head gave her some form of existence looking over her. Thandi also held close the inheritance of her mother which she felt was what was left of her. Thandi cherished the inheritance and locked it away promising herself not to use it (Clemmons, 2017, p. 109).
Thandi did her best to come to terms with the death of her mother, but she never did. When Thandi got her first child, she looked at him and was afraid of losing her. The death of her mother had made her fear death, and as she held her son in her arms, she was afraid of doing something that would kill him. Aminah dealt with the death of her father the same way Thandi did. When Amina's father died, she called Thandi who got on a bus to be with her. The comfort of her best friend helped her deal with grief (Clemmons, 2017, p. 202). Together, Thandi and Aminah cried as they mourned and comforted each other.
Losing an Anchor
Thandi was born in America, her mother in Johannesburg and her father in New York (Clemmons, 2017, p. 3). The background of her family made Thandi mixed race which meant that she was neither white enough nor black enough. Neither race accepted her. The Blacks could not associate with her due to her rich background while the White could not categorize her as completely Black (Clemmons, 2017, p. 22). Thandi describes being mixed as being a well-dressed woman but homeless (Clemmons, 2017, p. 22). To the world, she appeared lucky, but deep down she had no sense of belonging.
Thandi found an anchor in her mother who held everything together. When Thandi lost her anchor, her life turned upside down. It took her a long time to get back on her feet. To cope with her loss, Thandi went in pursuit of an anchor. Thandi turned to her partner Peter for stability, but he could not fill the void. She then held on to her pregnancy to give her life meaning. But, she still could not fill the void left. Thandi then turned to her father for direction. She would call him and cry on his voicemail (Clemmons, 2017, p. 179). Thandi would long for his father visits and calls to keep her going. Unfortunately, her father had moved on; he had found a new girlfriend. The girlfriend was the father's anchor, and this left Thandi alone with no one to comfort her. In the end, she let go of her husband Peter and tried to make a living with her son (Clemmons, 2017, p. 216). Thandi showed the pain and grief of losing her mother. Despite her efforts to find a new anchor, she was unsuccessful. Thandi was forced to pick herself up and make something out of her life. Eventually, all Thandi could do was to make her mother proud or better become her mother and be an anchor to someone else. In the concluding paragraph, Thandi admits that there is nothing that could fill her mother's place and the grief would never go away (Clemmons, 2017, p. 234).
Clemmons, Z. (2017). What We Lose. New York: Penguin.
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