Suicide In The Family
I met Kemiko Lawrence at a women’s entrepreneurial program in 2019. We immediately became fast friends. She has several businesses, including the Harmony Wellness Angels Yoga Studio. Additionally, she brews a kombucha that she distributes under the name Kemboocha. This is the first fermented beverage I like. Her flavors Sun Goddess and Moon Goddess are my favorites. Last year, I reached out to her to be part of our Women’s History Month programming. When we spoke, she was shipping pallets of beverages to retail outlets in Florida. We scheduled her interview but soon after, another colleague reached out and explained that Lawrence had to cancel. Her child had committed suicide. I was devastated, as most people are when a young person dies. Quadir had just celebrated his 25th birthday. I reached out to Lawrence and asked if she’d speak with us about her families’ experience.
I asked Kemiko to take us back to the moment she learned about her son's passing. She mentions feeling like a boulder had landed on top of her. She went from the joy that her company was shipping full pallets for the first time to the unbelievable. Lawrence had spoken with her “Second Sun” the week before on his birthday. While she referred to him as her “greatest spiritual teacher,” he was in a good place. They had a great conversation. His death was completely unexpected. Lawrence shares that the shock disabled her. She wasn’t even able to drive. She spoke about feeling grateful that the people surrounding her and her family. Their tribe rallied to support and hold them through the experience.
I ask Lawrence how her family is doing now? How are they handling the grief surrounding this death? She speaks about finding therapy in nature and putting her feet and hands into the earth. She shares that she fasted and meditated. She explains that grief is navigated differently for everyone and looks different every day. She also shares that out of great pain can come great beauty.
Her family commemorated Quadir with a tranquility garden. She explains that when her family moved to Atlanta, Quadir was eight years old. He took to gardening. There is a labyrinth in the space to promote walking meditations. They will host events at the garden this year in months designated for mental health. I asked Lawrence what is different about her life this year, she spoke about dancing. She uses African dance as a cultural touchstone and a way to release grief.
Monique Bell from the National Alliance on Mental Illness closes out our conversation.
She shares that NAMI has a text line for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. Text 741741 to engage with a counselor and to learn about resources. You can always call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.