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Good Grief: The Final Conclusion to Grief
Help is on the way!
1 Using chapter 8 (Meaning Making) and one other chapter of your choice in Rosenblatt and Wallace’s “African American Grief” describe how you see the chapters illustrated in the movie. (Do not forget to identify the second chapter you are using.
I will elaborate on chapters eight and chapter one dealing with grief as meaning and making and grief and life span. I see chapter eight being played out in the movie under memory and meaning it says, “The key to meaning is finding ways to focus on memories of the deceased. With those, one can feel less that one has lost all.” The person is gone, but the memories live on.”[i]
At the very end of the movie as Jennifer and April are talking about life. April asks Jennifer if she wants her to help her unpack some of Mama Rose’s things. They talk about Sandino and how Jennifer thinks she shouldn’t just let him walk away. Jennifer says it’s like the story of Peter and tells Madea’s version, they laugh and she says they will have to go to church more often. They hear the church choir playing Mama Rose’s favorite song and April says she still knows when to show up.
April see the choirs singing her mother’s favorite song as a good memory to build on but also as her mother’s seal of approval for her taking the kids into her home. The fact that April invites Jennifer to help her unpack and tells her that she needs the kids there with her as much as they need her builds the start of a foundation. So that when they unpack Mama Rose’s things they can go down memory lane in a positive way but they are also building new memories as well. That moment is also wrapped in the experience in chapter eight called meeting the standards of the dead.
Earlier in the movie Gladys Knight character tells April how her mother wanted so much more for her. She is making reference to the current way of life that April has in practice, but April believing Jennifer and telling her that. Then she tells her to wake her brothers and go to their room. And she says she would love if Jennifer would teach her how to take care of her brothers’ shows her willing to fully take on the responsibility of the children.
So I surmise that at the moment April hears the song sung by the choir for her that was her mother’s stamp of approval. It says in chapter eight, “Sometimes an important part of the meaning making in grief is to come to see one ‘self as meeting the standards of the deceased. Then one can think, “I have lost the person but I have some of that person in me or at least I am trying to live in a way that respects that person’s standards.”[ii] She even goes so far as to embrace church which we know from other character’s testimonies her mother was a woman who loved the church and God.
Also two other losses under the life span of loss occur when April loses her sister she expresses that grief through avoidance and numbness. Her mother however experiences the lost of her child. She takes on the task out of guilt, responsibility, and love and raises her children. She avoids dealing with the issue of her daughter’s death as well she tells them to just pray about it, but never shows to tells them how to pray.
And for the children the lost of their parent has affected them not so much as the absence but in terms of the trauma she inflicted upon them due to her drug usage. A parent is someone who protects and provides care and there was no evidence she did any of those things. As far as care she was drugs at Manny’s birth, he has diabetes, and asthma. It is almost as if even the primary bond a mother has with their child was not even strong enough when it came to addiction. That bond was most expressed through Jennifer to her siblings and vice versa.
2. In class, we talked about how grief can be complicated and unresolved. In what ways did Randy not help April with her grief/loss of her mother? How did Sandino assist with her grief?
Randy did not aid April in coping with her grief because when she reached out to him literally and figuratively. He rolled over and asked her what she was doing he was trying to sleep. Then when she is overcome with emotions in the bed holding back her cries and screams. He acknowledges the fact that he hears her cries and doesn’t care by turning over again and putting a pillow over his head to drown out the cries. He also does not want her to go to church he wants her to not grow up and grow into change because he likes things just the way they are. Because if she changes then she will recognize the unhealthiness of the relationship and want change so he would have to fully commit or leave.
Sandino helps April cope with her grief and loss of her mother by conversing with her gently about her the loss of her mother. He allows her to express herself or unburied herself with the loss because she does express guilt and he comforts her. He also the next day takes her out of the situation and aids her in telling the children as a support system. The author says, “Here the resistance is often the strongest, and the mode of caring is most appropriate is usually insistent encouragement. The helping behavior most appropriate is conversation about significant themes, and sometimes gentle confrontation.”[iii]
Sandino acknowledges when April wakes up early one morning he says it is good she is sleeping her life away. He tells her to come with him he has something for her. She asks him why he held her the way he did when her mother died and he said because she needed to be held. She recounts that he held her like he cared. He tells her that he does. She says, “Why?” He tells her she is a warm, sensitive, and loving person. And she is funny. He gets her sense of humor. They laugh. He points out that she hides it and he doesn’t understand why?
He says that he sees through it. He doesn’t get why she is with Randy. He says we are all looking for love one way or another. Sandino also encourages her to reintegrate relationships with her niece and nephew by giving them a room of their own. Sandino tells April she is not as heartless as she is acting. Why is she acting this way, he speculates it is Randy? He tells her she is too good to be with him? Her body languages changes and she tells him to stop.
[i] Pg. 82,83
[ii] Pg. 77 Wallace
[iii] Pg. 111