We’ve been talking a lot about the tragic death of Trayvon Martin today, and we’ll continue to do so in the weeks to come and until there is some resolution.
But resolution for Trayvon’s parents is a long way off. Even when it’s all over, they still have to cope with the loss of their son. Spiritual advisor and author Iyanla Vanzant is no stranger to rebuilding life after loss. She joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss her new book, Peace from Broken Pieces
MR. MARTIN: We’ve been talking a lot about the tragic death of Trayvon Martin today, and we’ll continue to do so in the weeks to come and until there is some resolution.
But resolution for Trayvon’s parents is a long way off. Even when it’s all over, they still have to cope with the loss of their son. My next guest is no stranger to rebuilding life after loss. She is Iyanla Vanzant, a spiritual advisor and author of Peace from Broken Pieces.
Welcome to “Washington Watch.”
MS. IYANLA VANZANT: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
MR. MARTIN: These parents –
MS. VANZANT: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: — we had them on the show last week. And they are still grieving. They – they – even with all of the outcry and the rallies, the mo- — Sybri- — Sybrina, Trayvon’s mother, said, “I can’t eat until so-” – “justice happens.”
How must they deal with the grief –
MS. VANZANT: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: — of the loss of a child?
MS. VANZANT: Well, the – the grief is a natural process that occurs –
MR. MARTIN: That we all have to experience.
MS. VANZANT: — that we all have to experience. And as time goes on, the organic process of grieving – the anger, the loss, the – the bargaining, the forgiveness, the acceptance – that will happen. Where we don’t want them to get stuck is in mourning, in looking at, “This shouldn’t have happened,” “How could we kept this” – “How could we have kept this from happening?” Mourning has a very different energy – it’s about regret, resentment, bitterness – than grieving. So, their grieving process will unfold naturally. It’s the mourning because of the way this has occurred.
MR. MARTIN: We always hear the phrase that the last thing you want as a parent [is] to have to bury your child.
MS. VANZANT: Yeah. It’s unspeakable.
MR. MARTIN: You know that experience.
MS. VANZANT: Yeah. Yeah, I had to bury my 31-year-old daughter after a 15-month battle with colon cancer, and it really is unspeakable. I – I have to say I was lucky in the sense that my grieving process unfolded organically and naturally, until I could get to that day of acceptance.
I think, with Trayvon’s parents, with all of the – the attention and the energy around the circumstances of his death, we just want to hold them up so that they don’t get stuck in the regret and the bitterness of the loss.
MR. MARTIN: When we talk about – when you talk about that – that process, I mean obviously that’s losing a child, but what – what – but also, there’s another process when someone has been on top of the world, and all of a sudden everything around them s- — begi- — be- — begins to crumble and go away, and now they’re left with, “Man! I need to make sense of all of this.”
MS. VANZANT: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: You also talk about that in the book as well.
MS. VANZANT: Right.
MR. MARTIN: I mean because, look – I mean you were there. I mean you t- –the conferences, the speeches, the TV show. I mean all that stuff, and all of a sudden, [it] falls apart.
MS. VANZANT: Well, it’s a transition, just like Trayvon’s death is a transition, from one state of being to another. My daughter’s death – transition from one state of being to another. Having a television contract and then not – [chuckles] – having one, fro- — transition from one state of being to another. And – and how – what our grounding is, what our center is will determine how we move through that transition. So, those are the things that I talk about in the book: what helps us make transition, what keeps us from making transition.
And particularly in our community, the community of African-American people, there are certain patterns and pathologies that make certain transitions very difficult. We’ve been here before with Trayvon. We’ve been here before. But I have to wonder, is the pathology in our community, of accepting, tolerating, accommodating, allowing violence – even on the smallest level – how does that feed into other people being able to walk into our community, or see us, and enact violence? We[’ve] got to look at it. It’s –
MR. MARTIN: Well, a- —
MS. VANZANT: — a pathology.
MR. MARTIN: — and also beyond this year, I mean we saw last weekend in Chicago 41 folks were shot.
MS. VANZANT: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: Three days over a weekend, in Chicago.
MS. VANZANT: Yes, that’s right. We can’t, you know, not like this kind of violence and tolerate and accommodate that kind of violence. Two weeks ago, we were all applauding and laughing at the father that shot the daughter’s laptop on the Internet. What? 270,000 hits in 12 hours? And now – that was an act of violence. That was okay. But now, because it’s a human being – and I’m not comparing a human –
MR. MARTIN: Right, right.
MS. VANZANT: — being to a computer. What –
MR. MARTIN: But just talking –
MS. VANZANT: — I’m saying is –
MR. MARTIN: — about the act of violence and what –
MS. VANZANT: — act of violence. It’s a pathology in our community. And now, what’s happening is –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MS. VANZANT: — we’ve done it so much, ’til now other folks are coming in and think that they can do it for us.
MR. MARTIN: Well, the book is called Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through.
MS. VANZANT: That’s right.
MR. MARTIN: And we certainly appreciate it. Thanks for being here.
MS. VANZANT: Thank you for having me.