Image from the Salt Collective

In the black community, we were always taught to never question God. Being angry with God was inconceivable. But what happens when your worst fear materializes? What happens when you experience the most tragic loss your mind could not even imagine? What happens when mortality knocks on the door to collect life so suddenly and so soon? What is your human response?

Yesterday, I came across a repost on “The neighborhood Talk” Instagram page of someone who had commented on Vanessa Bryant’s post and Vanessa Bryant responded.


Photo by Kingsley Osei-Abrah on Unsplash

As a child, I could always feel the energy and emotions of others. I could feel and sense lower energies as well as higher energies or “spirits” as the church would call it. My grandmother would take me to people’s homes who were sick (mostly elderly) and I would “lay hands” on them and pray for them. One of my grandmother’s friends had breast cancer. When I was around the age of 7, my grandmother took me to her home and I gave her a gift (a picture I colored) and I laid my hands on her and prayed for…


Photo by Vincent Wright on Unsplash

After the immediate devastating shock of losing my child passed, my new reality began to settle in. “NOW, WHAT?” This is the question I found myself asking. Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, published her book, “On Death and Dying” in 1969 which gave us a framework for identifying and understanding key emotional reactions to death and grief in stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kubler-Ross noted that these “stages” are nonlinear and can overlap or some may even be missed altogether. I believe I experienced all of these emotions except acceptance during my 32+ hours of labor. Anger…


On October 30th, 8:50am I gave birth to my son, Nyle Zyaire who was stillborn. This was the worst day and most beautiful day of my entire life. His body was lifeless, but yet so beautiful. His little peaceful face brought my partner and I so much joy. He looked so much like his father but had some of my most prominent features. We were so proud of him. He was our first and only born child, our son. We spent approximately an hour with him, before the human body began to truly experience the realities of decomposition. …


I am not strong by choice

I am not strong by desire

I do not wear strength as a badge of honor

Grief hurts

Disappointment aches

Pain is debilitating

The universe’s relentless attack on my well-being is not a battle I’m excited for

I do not wake up looking for my troubles

The anticipation of contending with human perils haunt me

It’s exhausting

I’m tired

My soul wants rest

My soul longs to exist in an environment that is non-contentious

BUT YET..I FIGHT

Strength is my inheritance

Strength is the mantle passed down to me from my ancestors

Strength whispers in my ears when I cover my eyes

Strength visits me in my dreams when I refuse to see it…


I see a law at work and a war in my members.

My heart, downcast and aggrieved

But my spirit vehemently searching for answers

There appears to be a duplicity

I’m here, present with my heart, and sitting with my emotions

Feeling and fully being aware of all locations pain exist within my physical body,

While yet, my spirit is away searching through the dangerous woods of depravity for God

Searching for clarity

Searching for a place where this pain can be alleviated

Searching for insight that surpasses the limitations of mortality

Crying out to God to understand why, how…


My daddy said grief is like a gaping hole that gets a little smaller with time, but never actually closes.

I say, it feels like pain and tightness in my chest.

Some moments it feels like suffocation.

It is like a dark cloud hovering over my head — condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then becomes heavy enough to fall under gravity. It follows me wherever I go.

I am well acquainted with grief.

Grief has now become a companion of mine.

It’s the one thing that is promised to us all, both human and animals alike.

I no longer…

Ashley Payton

Chronicling my journey through grief and loss — Using my thoughts & words as a courageous tool for transparency and a vehicle for empathy, connection, and hope.

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