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Marquisha Frost's Journey Through Grief

Grief is a universal experience for everyone. Is it not often that one can escape life without having experienced loss and Dr. Marquisha Frost recently discovered this.  

After her partner was murdered in August of 2023, her view on grief changed. As a mental health counselor and life coach, she’s spent her life and career only experiencing grief indirectly. Her thoughts on what life after loss looks like shifted. Marquisha, of Omaha Nebraska, talked to us about her experience with grief as a black woman, mother, and practitioner. 

“Women of color are not allowed the same space and grace while grieving. We aren’t allowed to stay stuck. A lot of that is because of society’s unyielding expectations for us to show up, maintain a poker face, get the work done, and always be on.” She shared sitting in her office, only five months out from the death of her partner, Lamont.  

“In the period between his death and the funeral, I was not present. For weeks, maybe months, I was not able to do anything. I felt like I was here, and I was there. It didn’t feel real. My life didn’t feel real. It was like I was watching someone else live my life. Some people fully honored that and continued to. It’s not common that people will understand in the long term. Once the funeral ends, people expect you to return to your pre-death self and move on with life. I’d tell people, I’m not even in the space to care for myself, let alone others.”. With a PhD in educational administration and a business of her own, Marquisha & Co., a lot is expected of her day-to-day. “I’m an introvert, but I found myself isolating in ways that didn’t feel healthy. It wasn’t who I wanted to be or how I wanted to navigate this process. I don’t want to run from it anymore. I don’t want to hide pieces of myself. Compartmentalizing death is exhausting, and I couldn’t do it all at the time, I couldn’t be a mom, work, and process this all at the same time. At least not fully and authentically. Something was going to have to give so I could heal.” 

“I’m high functioning, but grief is showing me that I need to learn to turn it off and manage it from a wellness perspective. I’ve been taking a lot of time to reflect on the loss, and what I recognized is that I hadn’t processed loss prior to this. As a black woman, if I go off the deep end, I’m at risk of losing so much. You’re seen like you need help or you’re crazy. The response is not helpful, it’s not empathy. Death is socially acceptable, but grief is not. When you’re grieving, it’s seen as you need to be fixed because something is wrong. For a while, I feared losing my reputation and my life.” Marquisha says.  

She mentions how there are consequences for what she shares. “We don’t have a space big enough to hold all of the hurt, all of our loss, all of our grief. So much of it is a part of who we are, it’s embedded in much of what we do. Even the happy times are rooted in pain because you’re constantly thinking about what something might be like or feel like if that person was there.”. She speaks about a book that has helped her called “It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay” by Megan Divine. “It’s been a literal lifesaver because it tells you you’re not crazy. That it is all as difficult as you think it is. And the book is right. It is.”  

Lamont was a lover of the outdoors, a father to two beautiful boys, and the owner of his own lawn & landscaping company. “I would watch him cut the grass and landscape the yard and I could just tell he really enjoyed it. He was serious about his craft, and I love to see people doing things they love. I was so attracted to that, and I was so proud that as a black man, he had found something that he loved so much and was doing it with all of his heart.  

 “There were so many things I loved about him. He would spend time researching things he saw or heard, and his intellectual side was something I really liked. He was someone who was going to find the thing and do the thing. He didn’t let much stop him. He was so big on principles, morals, values, and raising his boys to be that way too.” 

Marquisha talked about how when you lose someone, you lose more than the person. You lose the vision of the life you’d build together; you lose the friends and family that came with that person, you lose the routine you’d gotten into. She told me, “His family and friends are so considerate. They don’t have to be there for me, but they are. I get the gift of them.” 

“Lamont had an expectation of me. Chin up, chest out. He loved that I didn’t run from challenges and that no matter what I had going, I would always rise to the occasion. I love him and I love myself and I need to honor us both by showing up, setting boundaries, and rising to the occasion for what I have the capacity to do. I don’t want to be the same person as I used to be. I know that I’ve changed since losing him and   I know there are people who want me to revert back to who I was before losing him but I can’t, and I won’t.” 

When I asked what advice she would give to people who know someone experiencing grief she said, “Just show up. I didn’t and still don’t always know what I need and when I need it I loved the people who would show up and help me live day to day. To hang out with the kids so I could take a shower and cry, to help me with dinner, to just sit and be there if I need something. I don’t know what I would have done without those people.” 

In the time speaking with Marquisha, I learned so much about how her grief journey has been different due to societal judgment and expectations. We know how important it is to highlight the differences so people can understand that while grief is universal, the aftermath differs drastically when it’s stigmatized and judged.  

“My life is going to be different. I’ll never be the same, but I also don’t think I am supposed to be. I want to navigate Lamont’s death and grief altogether, in a way that I can be proud of and in a way that feels authentic to who I am.” 

Marquisha has shown enormous strength, determination, and grace to herself during this process. We are so grateful for the time she spent sharing her and Lamont’s story. The story of their love for each other and the story of how she’s persevered through the past few months was inspiring. Remember, grief is heavy. You don’t have to carry it alone.