Nekaya Carter had to watch her father’s death repeatedly on the news, then be reminded of it everywhere she went. Her strength and healing is a testament to the power of grief support and the good people at New Hope Grief Support Community in Long Beach.
By John Grossi
There’s a day when everything changed in Nekaya Carter’s life and anyone can do a quick google search to find it. January 29th, 2015. “It took a long time for me to be able to even think or mention that day,” says Nekaya.
All incidences of trauma, loss, and grief look different, but few cases have as many public and private layers as Nekaya’s. Her dad, Terry Carter, was run over by a car driven by rap and hip- hop media mogul Suge Knight. It’s the incident that eventually put Knight in jail.
It was worldwide news. The graphic tape of Terry Carter being run over was recorded by a security camera. The footage and story went viral. The incident occurred at the same time that the blockbuster hit “Straight Outta Compton” was being filmed, which tells the story of rap group NWA being formed and briefly touches on Knight’s “Death Row Records.” Knight wasn’t permitted to be a part of the movie, and many believe it was a movie-related dispute between Knight and another individual that led to the tragedy of an innocent Carter being run down in the street.
Unlike the rest of the world, Nekaya and her family never really cared about the Suge Knight side of the story. For them it was simple, yet devastating. Her dad had been brutally killed. She went to work that morning just like any other morning before receiving a text from a friend who said she had better come to the hospital. The days and weeks after that were a blur. Her kids had to find out their grandpa was dead via social media.
Nekaya was whisked into an entirely new phase of her life. A phase for which she had no preparation or desire. Public hearings, courtrooms, media, law enforcement, and general public dissemination about her beloved father.
All of this commotion was understandably making a horrible incident that much worse for Nekaya. She knew she needed help. “I really just googled ‘Grief Support Long Beach’ and New Hope Grief Support Community popped up,” says Nekaya.
There were so many things that triggered her about the incident and worst of all, they were everywhere. Every “Straight Outta Compton” t-shirt and billboard, every mention of the rapper, every thought of the day, were emotional triggers of her devastation. Immediately
when she called for a consultation with a New Hope Grief Support Community specialist, he referred her to the Long Beach Trauma Center to receive special therapy before entering grief.
When she completed that therapy, she came back to New Hope, where they welcomed her with open arms. She joined a grief group and completed the 8-week program, which proved to be one of the most important and transformative experiences she would go through. She took her kids to New Hope’s family camp up in the mountains where they were able to open up, share, and connect with each other over their shared grief.
Nekaya stayed involved with New Hope Grief Support Community to continue her journey and help others on theirs. She is now one of their biggest champions and will do anything she can to help spread their mission and to emphasize the importance and helpfulness of
therapy among the culture of people of color, where the practice is sometimes considered a stigma.
Nekaya is now a successful Real Estate Broker in Long Beach carrying on the legacy that her Dad envisioned. Her son attended Wilson High School where she attended as well and she also received her Masters degree from Cal State Long Beach. “I would not be where I am today without New Hope,” she says. “They are a huge pillar in the community and I would encourage anyone experiencing any sort of grief to reach out to them.”
Her ability to tell the story of her father, talk about the weeks that followed the event, and even her ability to eventually watch the movie that triggered her pain so much, are all feats she accomplished with the help of New Hope. Nekaya Carter is a beaming, successful,
personable family-woman dedicated to helping New Hope Grief Support grow, and happy to share her story. She still meets regularly with the others who went through the grief group with her at their remembrance dinner parties, where each member brings a dish or a drink that makes them think of their loved one who is now gone, but never forgotten.
New Hope’s mission is to bring hope and healing into the lives of bereaved adults, children and their families through connection and support. Since 2003, New Hope Grief Support Community has provided grieving residents living in the Greater Long Beach area with weekly peer-support groups, family camps & activities, workshops, resources and referrals. Grief is an isolating experience, and New Hope’s participants often find themselves dealing with a flood of emotions and life changes. At New Hope they learn how to navigate through the journey of grief in community to find their personal “new normal/new different” out of their pain and loss. Learn more at newhopegrief.org.