In honor of Black History Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to black aging during February. A new story will be shared every Wednesday, with additional posts shared throughout the month. Be sure to visit diverseelders.org regularly during the month of February.
By Cynthia Diao, Assistant Program Coordinator at SAGE Harlem, a safe haven for LGBT older people in Harlem, East Harlem and the Bronx.
About a year ago, my only son died by suicide and it has caused a rollercoaster of feelings. It was hard to enter 2014 without my baby boy. And Valentine’s Day is coming, couples and families will be celebrating their loved ones, while I will be mourning.
Because I am a religious woman, I look to God and ask: “How do I get through this pain?”
As a minister, I pray for people. I visit my friends and family when they are sick, encourage them and speak words of wisdom to those in need. I lend an ear when someone needs to be heard. I listen to others share their excitement of love and joy for Valentine’s Day and all along my heart is breaking.
The first months after Raymond’s death, I could not understand why God did not let me know my son was in spiritual danger. I often feel when others need intercessory prayer. I often feel when close friends are sick, and I direct them to the doctor. “But God, why didn’t I know about my son?” I ask.
Love is in the air. It’s time for chocolates and “I love yous.” Amidst these feelings of joy, I dress myself up and force a smile in order to move through my pain.
As I write this, I am reminded of the story of Joseph and Mary pressing on in the face of their obstacles. Joseph pulled the donkey as Mary sat still trusting God. Jesus’ birth was a miracle. And now, my hope rests on that miracle.
A few days after my son’s death, I sat in the dark. God touched my heart and showed me a vision:
I could see as my son jumped from a bridge and Jesus caught him. Jesus held Raymond in his arms, taking him to the Gates of heaven where my mother and our Ancestors were waiting for him. Jesus passed my son to my mother and she cleaned him up and took him in the Gates of Heaven.
This was my miracle. I found comfort in seeing my son in Heaven with my mother.
This vision saved me. My dark nights are shining a little brighter. I now understand that joy does come in the morning. I can face my hurt and disappointment. Love your loved ones this Valentine’s Day, because you never know how long you can physically be with them. Buy some chocolates and gifts, gather with families and friends, and show love.
Cynthia Diao is Assistant Program Coordinator at SAGE Harlem, a safe haven for LGBT older people in Harlem, East Harlem and the Bronx. As a woman who has faced grief and loss in her own life, she wants to help others process their own grief and live full lives. Cynthia runs a grief group at SAGE Harlem, every 2nd and 3rd Saturday of each month at 10am. For more details, contact Cynthia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646.660.8951
A previous version of the blog post originally appeared on the LGBT Faith Leaders of African Decent website. Read it here.
READ OUR OTHER BLACK HISTORY MONTH STORIES:
On the Shoulders of our Black Elders: Powerful Images from our Past (Black History Month: Civil Rights in America)
You won’t believe what I learned from our black elders (Black History Month)
10 things Black Americans should know about HIV/AIDS (Black History Month)
35 quotes to help guide your life from famous African American older adults (Black History Month)