'Atlanta' Actor Brian Henry Explains How Grief Is Different When You Lose Someone Unexpectedly


There’s no easy way to grieve and no timetable for getting over the loss of a loved one. Death can be hard to grasp, especially if your loved one was taken away without warning. This is true for actor Brian Henry from “Atlanta,” who lost his mom days after Mother’s Day in 2016. Henry spoke with GQ about his sudden fame and what it’s like to grieve his mother, who died in car accident.

“I lost my mom to a f*cking car accident,” he told the magazine. “She wasn’t even sick. She died in the most awful f*cking way. So it’s like… I haven’t had a chance to even think about that. But I still have to survive.”

While losing someone is never easy, losing someone unexpectedly doesn’t allow for much preparation. You’re left in shock, and, as was the case for Henry, the seemingly impossible task of processing how it happened.

“Every time I close my eyes, I see my hand on her casket,” he said. “Every time I close my eyes, I hear my necklace bang on her casket. That’s the last time I saw her. That’s the only thing that gets me out of bed, and it’s sometimes the thing that keeps me in it.”

Henry said staying busy helps him, but that it’s hard to enjoy his successes because “she’s not here to see it.”

“It’s hard to do this stuff,” Henry told the magazine. “It’s just like she died yesterday, man. I haven’t even looked at a photograph of my mom since she died. I can’t look at her.”

Sometimes people who lose loved ones experience what are known as grief spasms.”  These spasms can cause emotions related to the loss to feel more intense, and are brought on by triggers like scents, important dates, or for Henry, photos of his mom. Grief spasms can happen for years, but eventually, lose their intensity.

If you’re grieving, there are things you can do that may help. Speaking with a therapist or a trusted loved one can help you work through your emotions and process what’s happened, according to Mental Health America (MHA). MHA also suggests giving yourself time to adjust to your loss by putting off major life changes.

While you may have heard about the “five stages of grief,” there is no real order to grieving. At the end of the day, it’s important to do what works best for you. Everyone grieves differently and that’s OK.


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