The majority of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s story takes place a year after T’Challa’s unexpected death, as the nation of Wakanda and its people are still in mourning. T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is working to ensure the strength of the country at this time by developing preventative programs to avert calamities. Ramonda (Angela Bassett) forces Shuri to stop working on the anniversary of T’Challa’s passing and contemplate. Shuri makes a profound and truthful assessment of her loss and how it has affected her perspective during her fireside conversation. It is still too sad and raw to consider the sorrow of her passing for any length of time. Healing has not yet begun.
At some point in our lives we have all experienced some form of loss and know what it feels like to grieve. So we can understand Shuri’s hurt acutely and empathetically. It is very easy to find yourself drowning in your anger during a time of mourning since it feels like it goes on forever. The only logical course of action is to draw everyone else in with you so they can experience — even for a split second — what it’s like for you down here.
In my life when I was experiencing grief, I frequently felt like I was moving through my grief one stride forward and three steps back. Due to my inability to express my emotions, attempts to put me out into the world caused further suffering. When folks lacked the solutions I needed or sought, I would become irate. How did they do it? Other than time, there is no miraculous cure for grief. Everything was too raw to understand. I went back more into the fury cage I had made for myself.
However, the thing is that healing is not a linear process but more of an upward spiral. Consider how rivers wind and how branches bend to illustrate how few things in nature are linear. We go through things in cycles, and each time we do, we remove a layer and get a little bit closer to the origin of our illness. Healing can seem like a never-ending pendulum swing between suffering and acceptance. You might encounter a bump on the road even if you’re completing this effort. However, you always have the choice to refocus, re-ground yourself, and accept that this is not “the end of the road.”
Over time in our healing journey in which we are experiencing grief, we come to realize that rage is not a choice. Perhaps it comes through therapy, a friend who corrects you, or the realization that your lost loved one wouldn’t want you to be this way. That life is priceless; it is filled with wonder, excitement, love, and loss as well. You begin to value everything else around you as a result of that loss. This is evident during those exchanges between Ramonda and Shuri on the beach. The medium doesn’t matter — it can just be something she created in her imagination. The underlying message is that it’s alright to let go and live. Although you can’t and shouldn’t forget, you do move on.
Like Shuri, in my own personal life, I have taken the time to grieve loss. I’ve come to accept the reality of the world while also acknowledging my emotions and experiences. Without initially admitting where you are, you cannot move forward. You must dwell in your sorrow and acknowledge that the mourning process is a journey. Refusing to move leaves you immobile and locked in the same spot. But even if it’s just one tiny step at a time, be proud of it.