Coping with Death is a potentially triggering discussion that covers loss & death and I am a bit of a sensitive soul so there is a little emotion in there too.
In this episode of the Curl Squad’s Curl Power Podcast, we talk about:
- The sudden loss of two UK music greats Jamal Edwards and MC Skibadee
- Coping with sudden death
- Planning for the inevitable end
- Having Uncomfortable Conversations
- No Regrets
- Comprehending the finality of death
- Lasting Legacy
- What Happens at the end
Read the full transcript below.
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Read the full show transcript here
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Intro Hook: If you love somebody, and you’re faced with never seeing them again, that’s quite a difficult set of circumstances to reconcile.
Hey, curlfriend, it’s me, Zoe Fox. Welcome to this week’s episode of the curl squads Curl Power podcast. This podcast is for the women that know they’re meant for more in life, there’s a little inkling inside, that is telling you that your destiny is worth more than the sum parts of the trials and tribulations that you’ve come across in life. We’re basically the square pegs in the round holes that have got ambition, but maybe lack a little bit of clarity. We like to dig into topics that help us to just become the best possible version of ourselves. And I know that’s a bit of a buzz phrase that’s bandied about. But we’re all about just making the most of this human experience. And I’d ask if you do find any value in this episode, or if it does resonate with you, then please do share it with a friend. And come along and follow us on the socials. You can find us at the car squad on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We can find me at Zoe.e.Fox on the old gram.
And this week, we are going to be digging into a topic of conversation that people generally don’t like talking about makes us feel quite uncomfortable. But it’s a necessary conversation. Because it’s absolutely inevitable and guaranteed for every single one of us. And that’s the subject of our mortality. In last week’s episode of the podcast, which is called college dropout in search of purpose, I’ll drop the link in the show notes so you can catch up on it if you haven’t heard it already. I spoke about finding purpose. And in fact, in the intro, the hook that I used was all about how we’ve got one shot at life and how it’s short. And there has been no greater reminder of that then the events of the last couple of weeks.
On the 20th of February. The sudden death of Jamal Edwards sent shockwaves throughout the community. I know we’ve got listeners in different countries. But if you’re not familiar with Jamal and his achievements, he is a pioneer of the UK music scene. He has been credited with really giving life to some superstar careers. People like Stormzy Ed Sheeran, Dave, Jessie J, Rita Ora, amongst many, many others who will be giving him credit. As a teenager, Jamal launched SB TV, which is a video platform really, he would go out with his camera, film local artists where he lived on his estate in Acton. And he posts the videos up and the platform just really gained traction. It changed the face of the Grime Scene as we knew it, but not just the Grime Scene, it transcended that. It went beyond that. And the platform ended up stacking up over 1 million subscribers on YouTube. Like that is immense. In fact, he was actually awarded an MBE by the Queen. So he was recognized for the hard work that he put in to change the game.
Now I didn’t know Jamal personally, but in many ways, I felt as though I did. We both share a love of Caribbean food. But to be a little bit more specific than that. We are both fans of the grill shack and Tiki Bar, which is based at number 15 in the Vale over in Acton. So Jamal is pretty local to there. I’m not too far because I’m based in Westland, and as well. So shout out to Wilfred who is the head honcho over at the grill shack, which I believe is London’s only. If not, it is definitely London’s first Haitian restaurant. Shout out to my friend Sandra as well, who introduced me we have had many a family celebration in the grill shack so I can see why Jamal loved it.
But this is this is the thing I know I’m speaking about him like I know him. But just through following the grill shack on Instagram. Wilfried was always really proudly posting the times Jamal would come in to visit the different celebrities that he was bringing in to come and eat at the grill shack and this is what I love about people who were community-minded and community-spirited. You could see Jamal was trying to do the best that he could to help To raise the profile of the grill shack. In fact, if you check her at Sharon’s last video, Peru, you’ll see him and Jamal both in there. I can see Jamal is sipping on a Rum Punch. And Ed Sheeran has got pina colada lined up next to him. Those are two of my favorite drinks to have when I go there.
And I follow Jamal on social media. And literally just a couple of days before his passing, he posted a birthday tribute to Ed Sheeran. And then just like that, life becomes extinct. 31 years of age, it’s just no age at all. But what a legacy is left behind. And in another cool blow to the urban music scene, we lost another legend. And this one is personal because I do know him. And that’s MC Skibadee. If you’re into jungle, Drum and Bass, then he needs no introduction. Skiba is your favorite MCs favourite emcee. He inspired some of the UK his greatest talents. And it was spoken. Sorry, I’m getting a little bit choked. But let’s keep it real. I spoke in previous episodes about how much music means to me, and how my involvement in the jungle Drum and Bass scene was really my saving grace, particularly when my own boyfriend died just at the age of 22. Back in 2002.
Skiba was a crowd favourite like you could guarantee the minute he came on stage, he brought so much energy to the dance with his signature style and flow and lyrics that everybody could just hook onto. It was always such a vibe when he came on the mic. I had the pleasure of interviewing him on a few occasions as well. We’ve got some fun memories from times in Miami, at the Winter Music Conference, where we’re at in Barcelona at the same time on a few occasions for some drum and bass events. And, in fact, we got to go out on a really cool little boat trip and do some interviews out there until one of the other MCs got sea sick. So we had to rein it in. But I’ve got so many good memories like the foam party, there was this foam party, there was so much foam like you literally couldn’t see anything. All my mascara was in my eyes. Everybody was totally covered from head to toe. Skiba was covered from head to toe. But he still managed to keep this flow going. So he was just like, yeah, the consummate professional.
And the jungle drum and bass in his like a big family, a dysfunctional family, but a big family nonetheless. So this loss has just be felt so deeply by all of us. Such a shock, like you just don’t imagine it, do you. You just don’t imagine it. And it’s going to take a minute for this one to really sink in 47 years old, just 47 years old. Lecture Ma is no age. But both of them have just got these legacies that are going to weigh transcend their short lives. These are game changers, people who have shaped the music scene as we know it today. These are people that have defined cultures, and what a legacy that is to leave behind for all of us to enjoy for generations to come. That death is never easy. It never is. It’s never nice, especially if you love and if you care for people. There’s something about sudden death that I find really, really difficult to, to digest. I think a lot of that will stem from my own experience of my boyfriend dying very, very suddenly. A sudden death can just rock you to your core. It’s like one minute a person is there functioning alive, living in just an instant like that life is extinct. And their bodies they’re lifeless. How’d you get your head around that. The speed of that, the instantaneous fashion of tha.
My experience of sudden death, even though I’ve done so much work in therapy to work through the loss that I experienced. I still live in a real fear of experiencing a sudden death again, because I know how much it damaged my existence and my mental health for such a long period of time. And that’s why when I hear of a loss, a certain loss, I just feel it so deeply. I instantly think about their loved ones those closest to them and how they’ll be feeling in that moment because I know it. I know the pain of it. I know the numbness and then the moment that that numbness starts to seep into realization of what’s just happened and the pain that comes with that. It’s that moment that you wake up the next morning after a sudden death for a split second, you think that everything’s okay? You forget. And then those feelings, the realization, the reality starts to seep back in. And the pain, the pain of that moment of realizing what has happened is a pain that I just don’t want to think of anybody else going through. But as I said in the intro, death is the one thing in life that is guaranteed for everybody.
And in contrast to sudden death, we have situations where we might have somebody that we love that he’s terminally ill. And we’re faced with having a no limit on their life. And with that, the grieving process starts at a different point to that of a sudden death. I remember with my gran, we found out she had cancer, there was nothing that could be done in terms of treatment to help her. And, in fact, mammogram. To be honest, we weren’t that close when I was a kid growing up. But when I found out about her diagnosis, I was spending a lot more time with her. I was going to the care home, spending time, just her and I doing things that I wish I’d have done a long time before really getting to know each other, really getting to like each other. Not that we didn’t like each other. But, you know, a real fondness developed between the two of us in these later parts of her life. And I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that. I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to bond in some of her last moments. And that I was able to be there, just before she slipped away into her eternal sleep.
Similarly, I lost my auntie. In July. We’re really close. She’s my godmother as well, the very much she was out in France, dealing with terminal cancer of the pancreas during COVID, while I was dealing with my spinal cord injury over here, you know, didn’t get to spend the time with her that I would have liked. As her condition was deteriorating, she wasn’t really able to handle her phone and stuff. So there came a point when our contact stopped. I was in hospital, actually, at the time I was in rehab with my spinal cord injury. I was trying to phone her because she’s a lover of plants and flowers and all things sort of nature. And I just thought she would love the gardens there. At the spinal injuries unit, the Horatiu has gardens, I thought she would have loved it. And I really wanted to just video call her so she could enjoy some of the scenery. But we weren’t able to do that. Then I had a message to say that her condition had deteriorated quite significantly, and that her passing was sort of imminent. And I’d just come out of a physio session. Actually, I just remember standing up on Notting Hill gate with this news that my hands He was passing, there was so much that I wanted to say to her that I didn’t get to say, but one of my other aunts was actually out there in France with her. And I call my aunty’s phone and she answered and I was able to say my final goodbyes, which I was grateful for. But it all felt a little bit rushed. And a little bit desperate, you know a bit of a money call while I’m sitting outside itsu on Notting Hill gate, just wanting to have that last chance to tell her just how much I love her, and just how much she means to me.
Sorry, guys, my intention was not to cry my way through this podcast. I’m just speaking from my heart. And I’m not going to be the only person out there that’s been touched by loss or death. So I’m sure you’ll be able to relate. And there was a certain death of my granddad as well who he died out in Dominica where he lived. And that was just so difficult not being able to get out there. He had a bleed on the brain. We were frantically trying to get him access to the health care that he needed because the hospitals in Dominica just wasn’t equipped to deal with his needs. We needed to get him out of Dominica. We needed to get into Barbados or somewhere that had had the hospital facilities to to give him the treatment that he needed to help with the bleed on the brain but because of the lack of facilities on the island, his condition deteriorated very quickly. I thought I’d be going to Dominique with my children and see my granddad into his old age, you know, so I think it’s fair To say, doesn’t matter how it comes, if you love somebody, and you’re faced with never seen them again, that’s quite a difficult set of circumstances to reconcile.
And another thing that comes with death is then once the person has departed, however, that may have come about the people that are left behind left to pick up the pieces. And depending on how organized the person is, that’s passed, there’s a lot for the family that needs to that needs to be done. Like there’s practical steps that we could all take to ensure that life beyond the transition is as smooth as possible for those of us that are left behind, because I’ve been in situations where you’re left with uncertainty around what this person wants, or, you know, administrative stuff that needs tying up and loose ends, and there can be a lot of work that comes with death. And when you’re dealing with grief, the last thing that you want to do is really have to sort out all of this admin stuff, simple conversations about about your wants for your passing, like burial or cremation, you know, what sort of songs do you want played? I know, in fact, you know, this was crazy, like, just a few days before my boyfriend died. We had a conversation about death, not in any sort of serious capacity. But the conversation came up about, you know, would you want to be buried? Or would you want to be cremated, and he told me that he’d like to be cremated. But he also told me that he wanted to skim put it in a museum because he was covered in tattoos. So when he died, I was able to be like, Ah, I know what he wants, because otherwise I wouldn’t have I wouldn’t have known. So I was able to say he wants to be cremated. We didn’t go ahead with putting his skin in the museum. But, but we honored his cremation.
And having simple conversations like this can really go a long way to helping the experience for those that get left behind. And I know these are conversations that nobody wants to have, of course, nobody wants to have to face the reality of losing the ones that we love. But this is I think, one of the problems within our, our society within our culture. It’s nobody wants to talk about it. But it’s a certainty. I know in times in the past, when my mom and dad have bought conversations about life beyond their existence, and I’m like, No, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to think about it. Of course, nobody wants to talk or think about it. But what steps can we be taken? And what steps can we what conversations can we be having with the ones that we love to ensure that you know, whenever that time comes, whether it’s expected or whether it comes as a total shock, that there’s things in place to help those that are left behind to honor those that have died in the very best way possible.
Conversations around, you know, wills, and property and assets and things like that. Of course, nobody wants to think about it. Nobody wants to be seen as thinking, you know, getting people’s assets in order. There’s something a bit icky about that. But I’ll tell you what, there’s always someone in a family, who’s more focused on what they can get out of a situation than they are about maybe some of the other aspects of a person’s passing. So it’s always best to make sure that the i’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed, so that everybody knows where they stand. And in addition to that, it’s the simple things like, I wish more than anything, that I could have some more time with my granddad, just to find out a little bit about his recipes, because man, that man could cook. Like hands down the best Caribbean food you would ever have tasted in your life, the way the man could fry a fish, or shoot a chicken. Like, yeah, he was a serious culinary don.
And the last time I saw him, I just didn’t know that that was going to be the last time. If I did, I would have taken up my notepad and my pen and would say, granddad, give me your recipes. Granddad, tell me. What’s your favourite? What are your fondest moments in life? What were some of your happiest times? What was your favourite song? How did you meet my granny? You know, there’s just so much stuff that I would love to know now that in hindsight, you know, but what can we be doing to make sure that we’re not living in regret? When the people we love are no longer here? We should have like little worksheets that we can give to the people that we love. And it’s like, you know, what’s your favourite moment in life? What do you love the most about me? And just things that we can treasure when they’re not here anymore? And I’m sentimental old for, you know, not everybody’s gonna think or feel like me. But these sort of things matter to me. Yeah, these sort of things matter to me.
It’s always hard adjusting to life after we’ve lost a loved one, regardless of how they passed, because it all just feels so final, doesn’t it? I know for me, a lot of my thoughts around loss are based around, I can’t believe I’m never going to see their face again, I can’t believe I’m never going to hold them in my arms again, I can’t believe I’m never going to be able to hear them laugh or see their smile or smell their smell. And those things are really hard to, to come to terms with the finality of it. But what if culturally, we just approached it differently. We thought about it differently. Now, I’m super mindful with my daughter, about how I speak about death, that when my auntie died, and when Skiba died, because me and me and my husband were, were in tears, she’s like, What is going on? And we’re explaining, our friend has died, she doesn’t know what died means. So I try to explain it to her in a way that we’re living in a human skin suit. We’re living in a human skin suit, that is fueled by energy, that keeps us alive, keeps us active and moving. But then there comes a point when the human skin suit kind of becomes redundant. And the energy that was keeping us alive in the skin suit, has now transcended that body, the energy that was being confined by the skin, Sue has now transcended, to feel a greater space beyond the body.
And I’d love for her to be able to think about it a little bit differently. I’d hate for her to grow up with the experience that I’ve had around death. I’m not a religious person, but I am a deeply spiritual person. And I believe that once our life on Earth expires, that our energy continues with purpose in other ways. And I totally get that. You might be of the opinion that once we’re dead, we’re dead. And that’s it. But life is so mysterious and magical. I just believe in so much more. Like, do you honestly believe that we live in this crazy infinite universe? We’re on like a big mound of rock, floating in space spinning around? Do you think that that is it really, once we die, knowing what we know scientifically about energy, because whatever we believe one thing that is indisputable, is that energy never really dies, it transforms, and it changes state. Now I’ve got some stories that I want to tell you about why I’m so convinced that life is more than that, that we know it in, in our bodies. Because some crazy things have happened to me throughout the years, like unexplained kind of experiences. And I’m just looking at the time now. And I think maybe it’s best to save that for next episode. But I’m curious. What are your thoughts around life after death? Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you think that once life is done? That’s it? Do you believe in the soul? Do you believe that your soul is here for a purpose? Maybe believe in spirits and ghosts like this sort of stuff is the kind of thing that really floats my boat. It scares me in equal measures. And I can’t wait to have this chat about some of the crazy things that have happened to me in my lifetime. Maybe you believe in heaven or hell. But for me, the uncertainty is part of the magic of existence.
Now I’m not really a religious person. Because I do feel that I don’t know human ego. Sort of taints the intention of religion in many ways. I prefer to feel as though I’ve got a direct line to a higher consciousness, rather than being sort of dictated to by other people who’ve got their own agendas within that as well in their own interpretations. So I mean, it’s a minefield, isn’t it? But with so many unanswered questions about life after death. One thing that is for sure, is that we have the capability of leaving legacies that last long beyond our years. Just like scuba, just like chamar and just like many others that have gone before us, what’s your lasting legacy gonna be?
That was a heavy one. So if you made it through to the end of this episode, Then I’m bowing to you. I know these conversations are uncomfortable and difficult, and sometimes it’s easier to want to avoid them. So big up to you for showing up for this chat. I say chat, it’s just me talking at you, isn’t it? Speaking of which, one thing about the podcast is like, I’m always so keen to know who’s out there. who’s listening, what you’re thinking. And I think about the amount of podcasts that I listen to, like my brother said, that you just listen and you don’t get in touch to you. Because you Oh, yeah, that was great. And, you know, I don’t know, there’s something within me that just really wants to know who’s out there. What you’re thinking, What are your thoughts? Like, I’m so curious about people and what people think and their different walks of life and what’s brought them to this point and the experiences that they’ve had, or the experiences that you’ve had that have formed your life. opinions, thoughts. So come and find me on Instagram, Zoe.e.Fox, or follow the curl squad. But what I’d really love for you to do is if you are listening and you’ve got this far, gone, I know you might not feel like it. But please go out and slide into my DMs. Let me know that you’re there. Let me know what you think about life and what happens at the end of it. So curlfriend, I hope you have a week filled with blessings, good news, and all the amazing things you deserve.
And until next time, peace out. Big Love and catch you then.
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