Death is inevitable but knowing this does not make it any easier to handle.
Some people say it's easier when the person that died is elderly, that way we can call it a "Celebration Of Life." It may be painful but you find comfort in knowing that they lived a long life.
Unfortunately, the person that died may not always be elderly.
How do you handle the loss of a child or a younger sibling?
How do you handle the loss of a loved one that was less than 60 or 50 years of age?
What really is the age that determines a person is "elderly," therefore, dealing with their death should be easier?
The trees formed a canopy and there was a pathway created by a lining of trees leading to the house the family had purchased. It was relatively quiet, but there were sounds of birds singing and car horns blazing from a far distance.
We walked further and found a company of people waiting in the dripping dew from the leaves of old trees. It had rained overnight and the weather was cold and things looked dim.
Oma was a 23-year old Business Administration graduate of the University of Benin and had completed her national youth service. She moved in with the love of her life, Kinbi, a 25-year old graduate of Economics from the same school.
Their love story began in their university days and after graduation, they were posted to the same state for their national youth service.
Their love was known by all in the small community in Akure where they did their youth service year. Kinbi loved Oma passionately and was going to marry her when he settled into a job and she was ready for the everlasting fresh love as he fondly called her.
But something changed...
An elderly lady started singing a song in the Delta Isoko dialect and others chorused the song with deep but yet stringing loud voices tending towards sorrowful cries and wailing.
We joined the singing and someone changed the song to praise and worship and the atmosphere lightened up. The hearse ambulance slowly reversed and the mahogany brown casket was lifted and placed on the plot.
The ceremony was completed within 15 minutes and the sand began to beat like a drum rhythm on the lowered casket, while the ladies cried out loud – Oma – Oma – God be with you.
How do you deal with the loss of your 23 year old daughter who just completed her education with an upper credit score and ready to resume at one of the top oil sector companies? How do you deal with the unbearable burning pain buried deep within your heart?
As we walked back to our cars through the windy cold dewy morning, Oma's sister touched Sally's shoulder, my colleague, and said “my mother left, she left and called saying that she has moved to Asaba, she moved all her things”. She could not remain in the same house.
Kinbi was not at the burial ceremony but his friends and brothers were silently present because of the untold story brewing. They needed to represent him and pay their last respect to the love of his life.
The passing of a child can crack the foundation of a marriage relationship and unearth many hidden and unsaid things. It can create extreme pressures and unthinkable decisions by any of the family members.
We don't pray for the loss of a child at any age, we pray that we outlive our children till old age and see our grandchildren and great grandchildren.
How do you deal with such an extreme event at midlife?
I asked Sally, how do we deal with the grieving family, the marriage crack and accusations on Kinbi, all at the same time?
Oma's mother left because she felt her husband did not respond promptly to Oma's calls. She says she would rather she died than her daughter.
She was experiencing "survivor guilt", grief and the shame of the cause of death all at the same time. How do you handle these complex emotions?
Oma's father was grieving, angry, feeling guilty, defenseless against the accusations of his wife. Should he prosecute Kinbi for taking Oma to the clinic to remove the conception of love that was already way beyond 3 months? How can he be pursuing or trying to arrest Kinbi while his wife is accusing him of outright negligence or even worse murder?
Dealing with death is hard enough, now combined with a marriage crack and crime is a whole new level of emotional pain and complicated conservations.
Families will need structured professional help to deal with these issues.
You need help to process the events, you need help to settle your heart, you need help to be guided on what to deal with emotionally, physically and legally per time, you need help to protect yourself from social pressures, social justice and social jury on various matters at hand.
You need to identify what you are experiencing each time and give yourself time to grieve, to cry, to wail, to go through the guilt or shame but don't beat yourself up, you can cry but avoid squalling, that can make you sick. Connect with a support group or family members that will uphold you.
Strengthen yourself, be around people that will push you forward, find an attentive listening ear that will allow you to vent.
Oma's events will take years to resolve knowing that closure is idealistic. It never really goes away. We just come to terms with the issues, accept our hard stories and continue our journey with beautiful memories of love, laughter and the great life Oma lived.
My heart goes out to you and your family if you have gone through any debilitating event.
God will support you and give you grace and strength to be strong.
We are here to listen to your story.
Just call and tell us your deep story and we will support you.
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