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Visiting The Bereaved 101



People die everyday. Irrespective of how much we know this & we tell ourselves over and over, nothing prepares us enough for the shock of losing a loved one. The immense loss you feel is indescribable, it gives you a sucker punch that leaves you reeling. Not even knowing that death is inevitable prepares you for the intensity of the wave of emotion that would flood through you but you have to deal with it… That and the visitors or people who have come to commiserate with you.

“It is well”

“God knows best”

“Please don’t cry”

“It is the perfect will of God”

“Her work on earth is done”

“We can’t question God”

“The Lord gives and the Lord taketh”

“It is well”

 Oh have I said that before? Oh ok… “It is well” is a popular one, but you see when you’re the one with the huge vacuum in your heart, it is really hard to see the “wellness” in the situation.

People want to visit, to do something, to say something but sometimes they make it worse. The church folk (where applicable) who come and sit for hours singing hymns of how we will meet with our loved ones sometime in the after life. They say the most
“theoretical” things in the face of your acute grief… “Let us not cry like unbelievers who have no hope of the afterlife…” “Be strong
for your Mummy oh! If you’re crying like this, what do you want her to do?”  They forget that you have feelings of your own, they forget that you are human and sometimes it is just hard to push your own feelings on to the back burner because it is “right” to do.

Then we have the “friends” who want to know how the death occurred? So you find yourself telling the story over and over. You find that your visitors take you back to that unhappy place every time. So you’re telling of the car accident, of the protracted battle with cancer, of the sudden illness, of the rioters who had little regard for human life. You find yourself constantly telling the tale without rest.

Then you have the extended family members who have come to commiserate with you but are just depleting your resources. They sit in the living room from morning to night, a permanent weepy look on their face with constant intermissions to look for meals.

There is also the group of visitors who have just come to see how you’re handling your grief for reporting purposes.

“Ah, and when I got there he was dressed nicely, sitting in the living room and watching TV sef!”

“Her hair was neatly packed, she was wearing leggings… You could never tell she just lost her brother”

It would be unfair to leave out the people who believe that aggression and a firm shaking up is what you need. “Do you want to kill yourself? Will crying bring her back? This is not what she would have wanted. So STOP crying!”

Dude!! Who are you to tell me what to feel and to tell me how to feel whatever it is I feel.

I strongly believe that until you’ve been there, until you’ve walked down that road of grief, sorrow and mourning you can never really know what the person is going through and the best thing to do is to just say nothing.

In March 2010, my brother’s generator exploded and his apartment went up in flames. He died five days after the fire.

The visitors didn’t stop coming to the house. It was love, but it was really very exhausting. People were discussing the inadequacies of the failed government and how if NEPA worked my brother would not have died…right there in our living room. Some asked over and over if he was pouring fuel into his gen at that time… “No, he wasn’t fueling his gen. No he wasn’t on the phone. The generator sputtered as he was about to turn it off and it exploded” I recited this over and over till I was weary, to people who were here to visit me in my time of sorrow. They were singing “When peace like a river…” “till we meeeet at Jesus’ feeeeeet”continuously. When my parents went up to their room to lay their heads down for a bit, some “really close friends” would go to their room to give them some “words of comfort”… all they really wanted was to sleep.

I understand that it may be a bit uncomfortable when you go and visit someone who has lost a loved one, most times you really don’t know what to say or how to act and you tend to blurt out the wrong thing but I know some things that you can never go wrong with.

  • A long warm hug never hurt anyone. No words no placatory words, nothing but a long warm hug.
  • A listening ear; not an interviewer, a listener.
  • Someone who would just listen to how you feel and allow you to be yourself and express how you feel.
  •  Someone who will ensure you sleep when your body is weak, who will insist you eat and try to remain as healthy as possible, given the circumstances.
  • Someone who will do the running around for the planning of the burial
  • Someone who will tell the visitors when to leave.
  • Someone who understands what you are going through

So, when next you have to visit someone who has just lost someone who is really close to him/her, please try to remember that it is already difficult losing a loved one, don’t make it worse. Don’t go mumbling insensitive things like “o ga oh! And I just saw her yesterday looking strong and healthy. This life is too short heoww!” ” Kai, if only she hadn’t gone to Bauchi and redeployed to Lagos instead. Just sit quietly, sign the condolence register (if any) and leave.

Dedicated to the loving memory of  Emmanuel Bahago, Daniel Adedeji Taiwo and Dr. Paul Ishola Alade

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. ify

    January 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    thumbs up! this is by far the best article I’ve read here.

    A close friend and his sister passed away in June last year, and the news quickly spread on blackberry messenger. It soon became apparent to me that all the pings I received were curiosity disguising as concern. Clichés like “if you are crying like this, what do you expect his family to do” were the height of the insensitivity.

    Even worse were the constant requests for details of the deaths (which were quite gruesome). I realised for the first time how trite and annoying the usual comments like “it is well” and “God knows best” when a young person dies. Because, to be honest, you don’t feel like it is well,and you definitely don’t think God knows best at that point. And it doesn’t help to have people shove those statements down your throat at a time when you are hurt, confused and most likely questioning your faith.

    On the flip side, a classmate’s dad passed away recently, and given my experience in the valley of “it is wells”, I just could not find a suitable thing to say over the phone. I think I mumbled something like “I’m so sorry” and “God is your strength” a couple of times.

    Is there really ever any right thing to say…….

    • t

      January 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Yeah I think this article really captures it well. And trying not to sound negative, it takes one who has lost a close person to feel it the way in which this writer has written it. I lost a sister a while back and I sure do know how it feels. Truth be told, the most annoying statement ever made is when someone who has obviously never lost someone so close tells you “I know how it feels”…infact, that statement was what ended my relationship with my Boyfriend when I lost my sister. In defense of the sympathizers, it is really difficult for most of them..they actually know they shouldn’t say most of these things…that the bereaved doesn’t want to hear ALL of these things but then, the sympathizers also feel like they are IMPELLED to say something. I know different bereaved people might think otherwise, but in most cases, it is best to SHUT UP…..just keeping quiet and holding the person is the best. Better, assure them that you are there for them or are praying for them (if you do mean it). The most painful is when most of these people that flock your house when death happens suddenly dissapear in 2 one calls. No one texts, no one remembers…they all just vanish and u are left to sudden silence and that is when the hurt REALLY starts….sigh!…Death just hurts mehn….we would never be able to understand it and we will never be able to help people go through it!

  2. Dahlia Voka

    January 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Thanks great one

  3. Moi

    January 13, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Well written…..some ppl don’t really know how to comport themselves in such situations..when my mum died after a year long battle wit breast cancer in feb 09, an argument started btw 2 of her friends cos one of them said my elder bro should not be crying while the other said y shouldn’t he cry, sebi its his mother……also I had a friend who kept coming to eat, scatter my room and was just a nuisance sha… She did more harm dan good…its best to sit down, keep quiet and say a prayer wit the bereaved if u can b4 leaving

    • teey

      January 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      sorry abwt ur mum..

    • Moi

      January 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      Thx Teey….God bless u

  4. Chikalaka

    January 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

    This hits home….kudos for this article, it is spot on! I found myself angry at people who came to eat at such a time when I should’ve been calm and just expressing my feelings. Nigerians…Africans can be very stupid when they tell you not to cry. Is it not my tears? Are the tears running down your face?? Is it not my loved one that died? Abeg gerrout of my face! The people who I appreciated the most where those who talked about everything but death, about music, about fashion, politics because it takes the mind off death and reminds you of the things you like. People have to remember that it takes time to realise Gods plan..1 year, 15 years but once you do…the awe at which you marvel at Jesus and the joy he gives overcomes everything else…the key to receiving that revelation is patience. God Bless you for writing this article, hopefully Nigerians will listen.

  5. yummy

    January 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    nice write up!if u do not know what to say simply shut up and go back home.the most irritating phrase ive heard is “o ga o” so bloody insensitive. a long warm hug , helping around the hpouse and ensuring that the bereaved persons eat and sleep when they are supposed to is way to go.

  6. anonymous

    January 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Sometimes am atoshined at the articles i read here…….this was actually a good write up, however i feel the writer is somehow biased (if thats the right word). my dear we are africans and that is something you seem to forget. Behaviours such as ‘coming to visits’ and repeating ‘comforting words’ may come off to you as insensitive, but due to the level of understanding generally in the country, it is how we comfort families who have lost someone. Well since everyone is going western and dropping our customs and traditions, i am not surprised some people jumped to support these articles. notwithstanding, its is true some people may seem overbearing and inquisitive but advising people to “Just sit quietly, sign the condolence register (if any) and leave” does not do any good either. In addition serving people food is naturally a way of appreciating them for showing concern.

    • oro

      January 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      “In addition serving people food is naturally a way of appreciating them for showing concern” really? You have just lost a loved one and you expect the bereaved to be concerned about what goes into peoples stomachs?

    • Aibee

      January 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

      That is why the bereaved will not be the one cooking the food. It is family and friends that will cook the food. Sometimes its even a potluck. If they had come for something joyful wouldn’t you serve them refreshments? They are guests, however unwelcome they may be.

      Back to the original post, there really are never any right words at a time like this. Particularly if the ‘comforter’ is not very close to the bereaved. Your close friends will know how to comfort you best. All others can only try. As for the inquisitive ones? Just answer the questions if you can and if not tell them the memory is too fresh and painful and you’ll rehash the story when the pain is less. I will offer a platitude of my own and tell you to take heart and be strong on your brother’s death.

    • Babbie

      January 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Please remember that the person who wrote this article may still be grieving. Therefore, what he/she wrote is what he/she is feeling at the moment. Trust me, I have been there. I lost my mom on Christmas day 2010 and all kind of emotions ran through me. I really didn’t feel like seeing or talking to anybody. The grieving process is different for everyone. This article might even be therapeutic for the author. Bottom line is we have to be sensitive.

    • Brownsugah

      January 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      So sorry Babbie, it must have really been terrible to lose your mum on a christmas day. May God grant you guys who have lost someone so dear and close to your heart the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss caused by death and to the author too. Words are never adequate. Forgive us when we say wrong things but i guess well…….it’s one of those things and this article will let more people learn.

    • brittany

      January 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      my dear u have said it all #gbam

    • Missy

      January 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      I am sorry but this whole “we are Africans” so therefore we can behave like insenstive beings is getting boring! Its not everything in our culture we need to embrace! Infact if we got rid of some ridiculus things I am sure it will make us better people. So because we are Africans we should tolerate an insensitive comment or behaviour? It has nothing to do with the western world. It may surprise but not every African or Nigerian in particular likes people in their business or overbearing visitors or people that just turn up uninvited. Death is a personal thing and how people want to deal with it is their business. If most people here are saying they agree with the writer then maybe just maybe its what we really want but as Nigerians we bite our tongue!

  7. onyinye

    January 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    when a friend of mine lost her younger brother, they had just buried him, and i was hanging around just keeping her company. This man comes in, “it seems you people have not been around”….she replies and goes on to inform the man of her brother`s death…..The man is like eeeyah! sorry! and acts all sorrowful for a few minutes…the next thing i see is, he reaches into his pocket for his phone and charger,,,,Sister please help me charge my phone….. felt like boxing his ears……Duh!the girl isnt in a good mood, take ur china phone somewhere else….human beings dey oooh

    • Mariaah

      January 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      That man na gbef!!


    January 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    This article is so true,i lost my brother last may,i had some very unreasonable people who meant well come around,but we are forever grateful for the support we received from family and friends especially his friends they took all the burden of planning the burial off us,when i say everything i mean everything,I cannot explain the relieve we felt and they kept reporting back to us to get approvals for stuffs,they didn’t take us forgranted,i didn’t know people could be that considerate,I think we should just learn how to console the bereaved,if you’ve never been you wont know how it feels.BUDDY EDEMEKA,YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEBERED.RIP,Thanks for this post Bella.

  9. OlannaBabyCakes

    January 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    This is beautifully written.
    A few years ago, my best mate lost her sister, I couldn’t figure out what to tell her for the life of me so all I did and said to her everyday we spoke was “Speak, cry, shout if you want to or just be quiet and I would still be here because only you alone understand what you are going through and all these words of comfort may not be enough.” She greatly appreciated it, she would say cheer me up and I would go into all foolishness to date… A few months back, I lost my cousin and no amount of comfort answered any of my questions. I got very upset with the usual words you displayed above. I just wished people shut up instead..

  10. Tiki

    January 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    It’s bad enough losing a loved one, I do’t think anybody should have to deal with problematic mourners too. My idea of commiserating is running any errands that will save your body the fatigue your mind is experiencing, and remembering with you happy moments spent with the person who has left this world. It helps, if only for a little while.

  11. Ure

    January 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Nice post,some pple are just very irritating wen they come around pple who are mourning.The one i find absolutely disgusting is the case where pple use dead pple’s pic who they dnt knw as dp on bbm so that pple can ask ‘eeyah this fine girl or boy how did he/she die?’.People really need to be sensitive when they come to commiserate with pple.

  12. triangle

    January 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Wow this write-up is spot on. Back in ’07 wen I lost my dad it was a rlly trying time for me and compounded by d fact dt I was in sch and had my exams approaching. I wanted 2 slap wen chic wen she told me ‘take heart, it’s one of those things’. One of what exactly? Felt like slapping her right there. Never heard sth dt insensitive before.
    Wudnt hv survived dt period, if nt for my friend dt ensured my class notes were up to date, all d courses! B4 any test she’d inform d lecturer of my ordeal and made sure they promised a make-up test for me. I didn’t hv a carry over dt semester despite all d classes I misssed. Looking back, she helped me where I needed her most. May God continue to bless her for me.
    Having been there, nw I knw how to console those dt have been bereaved. Most times it isn’t abt talk, its action, taking over an important part of d person’s life and helping out. If it’s a young widow, ensuring d kids hv food and hv their bath is a start and a big relief to d bereaved. May God help us.

  13. oro

    January 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Well written dear.I hope people read this and practice what is in it.

    I knew Dr. Paul Ishola Alade and may he and everyone you mentioned continue to R.I.P

  14. michael

    January 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Got me reminiscing abut last year when the provincial pastor of the church i attend lost his adopted son. He came on pulpit announced it on Sunday, told everyone the loss was a hard one but that the whole church should sing a hymn with him to celebrate the life of the kid while he danced somehow solemnly to the lord. Men i never met the kid but he told us he was in his final year and died in an accident…..I couldn’t even pronounce one word in the hymn ’cause men i felt damn bad and sorry i no get that lever ’cause i guess even when a close colleague died, i cried men(abi man o). abeg it’s not lack of faith or man issue but baba God noni understands..its kinda hard ’cause you ain’t seeing that persons again till……………..
    It’s always good to hug people
    Do all the errands for them
    Just be around them without saying the normal stuffs, try and find somehow to make them laugh with little scenarios….
    guess that’ll do the trick.

  15. bukky

    January 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    For me, i usually try to read the behavior of the beveread.If the person wants to talk about their loved one, i listen and talk about the person too(if i knew him/her).If they obviously dont want to talk about it, i look for other stuff to talk about too.The writer i very correct, make yourself useful to the family, help them with arrangements dont come and be fishing for gist orisirisi.

    • bukky

      January 13, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      “is very correct”

  16. anonymous

    January 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    @oro no one actually expects you to do it, its a choice.

  17. jumlush

    January 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Wow i can totally relate. It would be a year this month since i lost one of my favourite cousins ( we even spent growing years together as sisters) I miss her a lot. I felt raw pain & i realised that ”it is well” & ”such is life” are just words people who have no idea say. Since then if anyone i know loses a loved one, i just go to see them, give them a hug if we are that close, cook and take to them when i can, and say NOTHING.

  18. UcheAnne

    January 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for this.

    Someone like me, I’d never know what to say so I’d probably just be quiet anyway. I can imagine that there’s really nothing you can say to make someone who is bereaved feel better, but I’m sure some of the pointers you gave would help.

  19. amaka

    January 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Nice post..nothin U̶̲̥̅̊ say is ever enuff 2comfort a bereaved person.its better 2help out with chores or sit quietly n just listen 2dem pour out dir pain.

  20. mary007

    January 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I am on the fence with this one.
    When people make money, others want to know how they did it. When we do well or badly the source is dicussed in the same vein people want to make sense of a person’s death.
    Yes, it can be very nosy the way some people ask but in my own opinion Nigerians are so secretive when it comes to personally issues, where a faher cannot tell his family he has being diagonsed with cancer, when a mother warns her family not to let others know the issues health and otherwise the family is dealing with.
    Suicide is openly discussed in the western societies, in Nigeria the family will say the person slept and did not wake up. It does not help society in the long run.
    I have lost close ones the saddest part is that the world does not stop. people will still smile, cry, booze do whatever, we should start learning to tell people exactly how we are feeling, some people wants others around some dont- let people know.

    In the western world the cause of death is openly discussed, it has being used in researches,

  21. ojaybaby

    January 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I totally agree with what you are saying, i have even been guilty of doing some of these things and i realized that letting the bereaved mourn,cry or express all form of emotion is necessary aspect of allowing healing to begin.We forget that the bereaved are also human and become insensitive to their feelings.

  22. Fauzy

    January 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I really do appreciate this article. My fiancé told me the something about no one feels the exact problem he is going thru when he and his sisters lost his mum. I do understand now. Thanks

  23. molly

    January 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    None of the things you have written are as annoying as what some people who came to visit when I lost my grandad said, “congratulations”. Believe it. It is the most stupid andinsensitive thing I have ever heard. I felt like slapping them even though they were old people. SO WHAT if he was almost ninety, he was my grandpa and I was grieving. There was nothing to congratulate me about. I find the advice you gave above extremely wise. Just either keep quiet or talk about other things to try and take the person’s mind off it.
    A friend of my grandma’s just lost her only child. When I went there, her family members were telling people not to cry inside, the old woman talked about everything but what had happened. She talked about the strike, gave people advice, anything but think about the tragedy.

  24. suwa

    January 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    its amazing how people want you to just accept “its well “or ” God knows it all” or any of the favorite religious slogan when grieving. people fraustrate you more with how did he /she die? prying into your privacy. i have seen friends grieve but never had the slightest idea of how they feel until i lost my brother on 23rd December 2011. i could hardly speak. i just sat and wept. people wanted to know how he died like they were immortal themselves. they pain is still very intense. it was not well in anyway. in all we are grateful for those who in their silence and visit without pry but prayers made the pain less.

  25. funtizzy

    January 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    RIP to all those who are dead. may their souls rest in peace (amen).

  26. Purpleicious Babe

    January 14, 2012 at 12:34 am

    This article is well written. I must say I have been part of the people that say it is well mainly because I cant summarise what I feel or how to console the person (pain, annoyance, injustice, unfairness, atrocity, sadness, etc). It is well is a statement that means although I have no clue as to why this and that happened, surely it will be well one day(things will get easier, everything will be sustained, life will go on and I have to move on). Having said all of these and more. It is best sometimes not to say ANYTHING… Recycled words can be so ANNOYING.

    I have figured out you do not know what to say to people when they lose their loved ones and most important is to do is LISTEN, HELP AND BE THERE. Like everything you say can come across as cliches and nonsense at the time.

    When my mum lost her mum she was crying and gutted she could not be in Nigeria at the time. I have never seen a grown person cry and I did not know how to console my except that I was insensitive i.e(telling her to stop crying and was laughing too cos it was so weird, I have never seen my mum cry and i thought she was faking it, it was UTTERLY stupid of me I know and I have repented).

    Recently, my mum and I were talking n she told me how she was not happy with my reaction, that I didn’t allow her to mourn her mother the way she wanted i.e. crying that she wanted to CRY AND CRY AND CRY all the pain, hurt, guilt and injustice and top of that I was laughing. I had to explain I thought saying that was the best I could do, and I guess was young and silly. Now, I am alot more mature, most times I keep quiet and nod.

    When My Dad recently lost his dad, I asked how he was coping and the shift in his responsibilities etc.? I didn’t really go preaching or doing a sermon about how life is, these things happen, it is well, God peace with him etc. FACT IS: saying nothing can be best, giving a hug, being there and showing love is what is BEST(as the author outlined above).

    The person that is mourning a loved one cannot put a term to their feeling, their are IN PAIN. Sometimes when people are in Pain, most esp PAIN that has to do with EMOTIONS, just pray for them. KEEP PUTTING THEM IN YOUR PRAYERS and showing LOVE.

    When I experienced just an ounce of what it was like to lose someone not even to death but to someother stuff, all I wanted to do was CRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY and FOR someone to LISTEN AND PRAY FOR ME. Like I just needed prayer not a LECTURE.

    This article is all about learning and having a shift of mindset and I think people should the deduce that learning point and act on it.

    My prayer is: we do not tomorrow and do not know what life holds, we will experience our ups and downs. During the hard times, we can feel lost, lonely, under appreciated, injustice etc and feel as a VICTIM. But during all of this time and more, I pray the grace that surpasses EVERY GRACE WILL BE GIVEN TO US to get through. I know that losing a family member, a friend, relative etc can be hard but my prayer and I always ask is LORD DO NOT LEAVE ME, JUST DO NOT LEAVE ME(trust me the grace of God cannot be comprehended).

    Please heavenly FATHER and sweet Saviour, be with as many as are grieving for a loved one and I pray that LOVE, PEACE, JOY, MERCY, GOODNESS and HEALING will be poured into the core and rawness of their SPIRIT (AMEN).

    This life sha…. sometimes sometimes…

  27. nne

    January 14, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I just lost my uncle on Tuesday, it was devastating because he was young & it was unexpected, sometimes I wonder if this whole ‘subsidy’ thing never happened, could they have rushed him faster to the hospital? I’m still in shock but my God will give us the fortitude.
    Yes Nigerians disguise their sickening curiosity as concern.

  28. marvel

    January 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I was too shocked when my dad died to note who was charging phones or eating too much. It is idiotic to keep judging Nigerians born and bred at home with all these Western yardsticks. Your article is borne out of irritation for bad behaviour and sadly if you keep posting on BN, there is a fat chance of it not being read by majority of those you wish to address. If the economic situation in the country was as it was say 30 years ago, people would be brining food to the bereaved. It sadly reflects the sign of the times. It was a wise article but if you want the everyday Naija to know this, the pidgin speaking radio station and the tabloids would be your next step.

  29. [email protected]

    January 14, 2012 at 7:19 am

    interesting article – i think i like people to say something than nothing at all – granted the 9ja way is a bit OTT but it’s just the culture – i lost my Dad a year ago and it comforting to hear words of support from people – even though it was cliche – but it was indeed better than silence

  30. kenny

    January 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Wonderful write up!!! I’ve been in these shoes a couple of times, really hard to know what to say,how to say it…even if I try putting myself in their shoes, I still won’t know what to say! I feel the best thing always is to just pray for them, there’s no point knowing the details of what happened or passing ridiculous comments! May the souls of the departed continue to rest in peace! I miss my twin brother so much!RIP love!

  31. Gidi

    January 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

    we seem to be taking this westernization too far o!
    I do not subscribe to phrases like ‘it is the will of God’ and ‘the Lord Giveth and the Lord taketh’ as they do not sit with my understanding of scripture. However, i understand that the repeat visits and use of such phrases are more cultural than anything else. We are Africans after all. The communal visits are part of our way of practicing Ubuntu. We will not go that isolated way of the west where you often do not even know the name of your next door neighbour.

  32. kiki

    January 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

    when my dad died 5yrs ago people coming to visit us brought all sorts of food items for us, like yams, bags of rice, tomatoes it was really helpful as we obviously couldnt leave the house and go to the market to cater for the amount of people who had come to support us. Then this my dads rich friend who works in an oil company and is quite rich comes to the house and.. get this…brings a wristwatch for my mum. Not even money in the envelop for ur very good friends widow. you bring a stupid cheap wristwatch. it would have been better if he didnt bring anything. A lot of people expected my mom to come begging for money but God disgraced them. our standard of life even now improved more than it was before. God is really faithful.

  33. IB

    January 14, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Nice write up.

  34. AnnLOludoyi

    January 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    So everyone is now writing their own story and experience -___-. We understand you went through something similar but writing your own experience or ranting about people’s attitude isnt going to make anything better. So be the “listener” and share this article rather than ranting.
    Btw, Happy New Year 😀 xo

    • Salama

      January 15, 2012 at 4:43 am

      Na you sabi. Me, I’ve enjoyed all the “rantings” and have learned a lot of valuable tips about what not to do in the midst of the mourning. Don’t see why people need to keep their stories to themselves. Is what they’re saying not appropriate for the topic? Mccheewww.

    • Meena

      January 17, 2012 at 12:43 am

      wow, way to step on others feelings. Expressing ones experiences and grief is therapeutic, in fact, if I am not mistaken, the author of the article might appreciate the fact that her article is giving people (like me) an outlet to pour out their emotions in a society that encourages us to hold it in due to our religious beliefs in an afterlife. I read all the comments and no one was ranting, all I see are people who can relate with what the author of the article has experienced and they are compelled to share their own experiences too. If you do not like this, please skip the comment section.

    • Waruguru

      January 17, 2012 at 4:04 am

      Really? That’s very insensitive of you.What is wrong with people sharing their experiences? You didn’t have to read their comments.Think before you comment.

  35. Cynthia Fayomi

    January 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    One of the best articles I’ve read on here

  36. che

    January 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I so agree with this post.

  37. Monblaze

    January 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm


  38. Obi

    January 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    One fact of life is that things do not always go the way I desire them to go. When I experience such disappointments, I still find comfort in the fact that I have people who know me and care enough to help me deal with my disappointments.

    My family has been blessed by selfless friends who have been a source of comfort during deaths & funerals in our family. I’m sure others have such friends too. Friends who travel distances just to be by your side. Friends who will put people in their place when they become insensitive. Friends that sometimes tell you to stop crying because they see you cry yourself hoarse and are concerned you will fall sick if not stopped. Friends who give you a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes try to force you to laugh because they feel it will help you. Friends who make you get up and serve food to your inlaws so that no one talks ill of you. Of course these friends have prepared the food because they know you could never muster the strength to cook since you’ve been crying all night but they want you to appear strong before your inlaws so that they think twice before making silly demands.

    People will always be people. Both those that care enough will always be near when needed. Celebrate the friends that God has put in your life and ignore the nonsense coming from those who don’t know any better.

  39. Obi

    January 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    *But those …

  40. Brittany

    January 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I hate when people say “the lord giveth and he taketh”
    who created the angels in Heaven?isnt it him?so if he needed another could he not just create it..
    do u guys think God is that wicked to give u someone to love so dearly and then suddenly take him away from u knowing that ud be so sad and depressed and so weary and down for so long?the Bible in James 1:13 says under trial no one should say its God for with eve things God does not try anyone nor can he Himself be tried..!

  41. patience

    January 15, 2012 at 1:10 am

    what a great article .u have just said it as it should b,i have just lost my son few months ago,i find this write up very useful,,,,,,God bless

  42. ehiremen

    January 15, 2012 at 5:58 am

    first and foremost, sorry for your loss. May he continue to rest in perfect peace. I lost my younger sis last year to leukemia. My very good friend at the time called me and not once did he offer any kind of condolence, instead he saw it fit to keep referencing her pre existing disability; she had cerebral palsy from birth. It practically sounded like he thought her death was a good thing for the family. We in my family always saw my sister as a blessing and never a burden. That friendship ended on that day.

    I can relate….

  43. Dr B

    January 15, 2012 at 8:07 am


  44. Dr B

    January 15, 2012 at 8:07 am


  45. Femi

    January 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly. I personally hate it when people tell me to be grateful to God; grateful that things aren’t worse; or that things are well. Really? I don’t feel grateful or that all’s well with the world right now.

    Visit, give a hug, shut up and listen (if the bereaved says anything), tell them you’re there for them and ask if they need anything; stay a while (not too long), then get lost. That’s how to “grieve with those who grieve”

  46. Mo Mo

    January 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Death is a very personal thing and the truth is no one knows the pain the mourner feels regardless of whether they have been through something similar or not. A lot of people just don’t know what to say to a mourner, and they end up saying words like ‘eh ya’, ‘it is well’. When I lost my dad some years back, a friend of mine said something like ‘ don’t worry, it is not that important’. I was very quick to tell her off and point out how important losing my dad was to me. I knew she didn’t mean what she said. She just could not relate to my pain and she didn’t know what to say at that point in time.
    People should try not to take offence from such statements and comments from sympathizers. If you have never lost someone, you probably would not know what to say to bring comfort to the mourner.

  47. drb

    January 15, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Nice piece

  48. onpoint

    January 15, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    true talk

  49. prissycute

    January 16, 2012 at 3:19 am

    To all those who have lost their loved ones at death please accept M̶̲̥̅Ɣ sympathy, have lost a son, broda,sister n a very close aunt n recently  just lost M̶̲̥̅Ɣ motherinlaw. have had quite a share in †ђǝ painful xperience of death taking a loved one. just want to say that its very wrong for people to say” God has taken “that’s by far †ђǝ cruelest thing anyone should say about God.james 1:13 says God does not try anyone with when a loved one dies. Dats an evil thing.God Ȋ̝̊̅§ not responsible in deaths dat occur infact REV21:3and4 God promise of a time when death our greatest enemy shall be no more

  50. Joy

    January 16, 2012 at 5:06 am

    This is a tough situation because it depends on the person that is mourning. Some will not mind being comforted by crying with them, hugging not saying a word, some want words of encouragement of it will be okay, some just want to be left alone and have a long time to mourn, some don’t mind the celebration because it distracts them from being depressed. I mean, I will say it’s difficult to express how you truly feel in this situation. There’s no perfect word or action that will take away the pain, hurt and sadness.
    I will say the western world take it too far, where it has become very detached and desentized, which is far from what should be truly expressed. I’m half American and I will say it didn’t sit well with me when my dad’s younger bro passed away from brain aneurysm few months ago and my mom’s side of the family just said, oh how sad, R.I.P. I know you will be okay.
    But my Nigerian side of the family, one of my favorite aunt called me up, she came over to stay with us for couple of days, we ate, talked, laughed, and cried. I felt like I wasn’t going through this alone. There’s something about the prayers that are said, the money or gifts that people give you, the extra greetings you get, that seems genuine to me. Of course, some Nigerians have also taken it over board. The only thing that gets on my nerves is when you ask some Nigerians, how did he/she die, what’s wrong in saying the illness or the cause of the death. When someone dies, it’s natural to be curious about the death. But, I will stick to the Nigerian way on this one because at the end of the day, that’s the culture, let’s not try to adopt to much of the western culture. Let’s stick to what works for us.

    • Tutu

      January 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      Let’s not kill what’s great about our culture. I lost someone really precious and I live in the UK. My white friends brought flowers, one or two gave monetary gifts, other professional colleagues supported by coming for the funeral and making sure I took time off work. Some white friends didn’t know what to say and told me they didn’t know what to say, and some pretended they never heard, so…they said absolutely nothing—till today (and this happened a few years ago!). But all my Naija and African and Carribean friends- Some came to my house and just took over in turns- cooking, cleaning, bringing food, drinks, money, whatever; taking phone calls, and letting me talk and talking to me too. Yes, all those things written were said and yes, I was angry/bemused/grateful etc at different points in time but I can tell you one thing for sure…when the phones stop ringing and the doorbell stays silent, you will appreciate that it is ALWAYS better to have people around you when u’re going thru’ a season like that. It keeps depression, mental instability… even suicide at bay. To know someone cares to call or come is enough. They are processing their own grief too and a lot of them come because they want to support you and the family. Let them. You might have the odd one who came out of curiousity or whatever. Forget that. Remember instead, the love and support you received from expected and unexpected sources. Sooner or later, you’ll just shake your head at some of the annoying stuff back then and move on. The Loved one whose passing brought about the ”annoyance” is prayerfully in a better place anyway. He ain’t coming back….but you want to make sure u get to meet again, in the right place. So drop all the unnecessaries and live… . God Bless ( Apologies for those with a diff belief system!)

    • hmm..

      January 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      I think you captured it all for me. My dad passed away in July 2011, a month after my sister’s wedding. I heard all those annoying ones and more but when they finally left after the 8th day prayer, I would give anything for them to come back so I wouldn’t have to be alone.

  51. Truth Teller

    January 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I can totally relate to this.

    “Then you have the extended family members who have come to commiserate with you but are just depleting your resources. They sit in the living room from morning to night, a permanent weepy look on their face with constant intermissions to look for meals.”

    When I lost my father in 2003, we had some relatives that were with us for two weeks!one had the guts to wake me and my siblings up one morning to “fry potatoes” for the “people” in the house, CHINEKE! I’ve never been that rude to anyone older than me till that day.As young as I was (19 years then), I forbade my older ones who were well into their mid-thirties then from entering the kitchen for whatsoever reason and gave my aunty a piece of my bereaved, aching mind! Growing up I remembered that visiting bereaved people were not times to look for food at such places, not even at funerals.I clearly remember going to condole them , and return home, no receptions, no after parties , the story’s now changed. Why all the importance and attachment to food and other mundane things? people’re so insensitive to the feelings of the bereaved indeed.Nice article.

  52. cathy

    January 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    not bad

  53. Meena

    January 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

    I totally understand how the writer of this article feels. Sometimes, people need to let someone express their grief. When my brother died in a plane crash everyone kept telling us about how it was God’s will, how God knows best, how we should accept it, how we shouldn’t cry, how he is in a better place… I felt so stifled. It was even worse for my mother, she had no way of expressing the heartbreaking pain she was feeling. Till today, her grief… our grief is bottled up and it hurts. People were asking me if I saw his body and what he looked like, so many insensitive comments, all in the name of condolence messages. I wonder if the grief from his death will ever go away.

  54. cocolette

    January 17, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Nice write up! Peeps just need to learn how to sympathise the right way and with the right words, when i lost my Dad back in 2007, a colleague of mine actually said to me eh yah “welcome to the club” as in seriously???? club of peeps with no Daddies? SMH.. some people are so damn tactless its unbeleivable, recently i lost a colleague in the office and most of us had our statuses on our bb changed in her honour, some contact on another colleagues bb actually pinged her and had d nerve to ask, ” who’s EY? did she die as a result of the fuel subsidy?” when she told me i didnt beleive her till she showed me the msg on her fone, i was in shock!!! some pple sha!!! Any ways for me a warm hug and a few words of sympathy is fine, your presence is what matters really..

  55. Redcarpetgoat

    January 17, 2012 at 9:52 am

    i am weeping as i write these words. lost my bother 43 days ago to road traffic accident, he was just 27yrs. i was and still devastated about it. amidst all, could u imagine someone actually accused me of not greeting her PROPERLY and actually made an issue of it?

  56. adefemi

    January 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Great article. We have all lost a lost one at a point in time in our lives and you’ve explained the best possible way to commiserate with bereaved folks. No platitudes, No sympathy, just support & show that you’re there. Nigerians are too dramatic when sympathising with people. Like the bible advises, we should “mourn with those who mourn” & not question and put forward “what if” scenarios.


    January 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Good article I must say. I remember when an uncle died, I went to the burial and my aunty was crying, I sat quietly beside her but didnt know how to say sorry cos I felt she will start crying again. Later after the burial my mother told me that I didnt do well by not saying sorry. How my mom got to know I didnt understand. Sometimes its good to say those words, if you dont the person might feel you did wrong. If a person dies and everyone comes around and says nothing, the bereaved might end up feeling like the sympathizers dont care, I believe that the closest to the bereaved are in a better position to sympathise best. My people say that sorry doesnt heal disease but if you dont say it you enter into trouble. We must strike a balance. Some people may not even want a hug. The bottom line is that people wont always treat you the way you want. Appreciate those who understand you and ignore the words of those who dont. I pray God to comfort all those who are morning for lost loved ones.

  58. Omonigho

    January 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    All I can say is thank you for this piece…

  59. Charles Mart

    January 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I think the article is typically what is likely to happen in nigeria but in some families however like someone said we are africans and our culture will always stick to us. I think we also have an option to close our doors and gates to visitors when we loose loved ones, i mean there is no law against it. I also do not see anything wrong in people trying to console someone to stop crying. I know there could be exceptional case and wrong words people may use at such time but it should not be ruled out that people use words like God will take control, please stop crying, please take heart, God bring bringeth and God taketh. These are all words of encouragement and inspiration. Now when people loose their loved ones, i guess not just anybody on the street visit, it will be close friends and family and some aquintances visiting, these people come around to stay with the bereaved so he or she would not do anything stupid. If you have visitors from morning till night at your home, nothing stops you from going upstairs to sleep if you need while they continue mourning or wake keeping on the deceased behalf. I believe this article is just on a personal experience and not a general one, some people react to things differently. I have also heard people say that imagine i lost my mum, dad or sister or child and that man or that woman did not come to the house or called. i mean hardly will you please everybody. Some people naturally do not like visitors or socialise very much, for such people it may be a turn off people consoling them very often. It is very very normal that someone you tell that you lost someone would want to know how and why especially if its a young person, what is abnormal with that? The problem is that you have different people who came at different times asking this one question, now you have the choice to repeat or say you are tired.

    Which visitor will expect a bereaved to go into the kitchen to prepare food for the visitor, i disagree here, it depends again on the calibre of friends and family one has. I have seen cases where family bring food for the bereaved and force the bereaved to eat. I am really worried at those visitors of yours waiiting for a crying man/woman to get food served, i think some spices have been added to this article. The much someone could ask for will be water and nothing wrong with that. I lost a darling 8yr old niece in 2010, i couldnt just understand why an 8yr old would go like that, so i asked my sister what happened and we are 6 in my family so its posible she told that story a minimum of 7 times to my other sibs and parents. Other people must have asked her and other people must have made positive and negative comments but it is life for you. I also noticed at such times people discuss other things in your house for various reason, it could be matters linking the death like nigeria and nepa wahala, it could even be football just to liven up that home and the bereaved,i see nothing wrong with it. When i loose some1 tommorrow and friends and family visit, i would not want them to turn my house to another mortuary where nobody speaks, i would want them to liven up my place and try to make me forget the sorrows. In future if i decide against this then i will put a note on my door for people to be silent or lock the gates. In summary this is purely an individual thing. That is why even when you are struggling financially people still tell you it is well and tell you to claim it, our belief in God, thats just it.I am such you lost someone in 2010 and i am also sorry you felt the way you felt but this article is PURELY based on personal experiences.

  60. partyrider

    January 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Very well said..

  61. Suzie Houge

    January 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog.

  62. Nikki

    January 18, 2012 at 4:25 am

    …well said

  63. Aforapple

    January 18, 2012 at 8:47 am


  64. Flowerpower

    January 18, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Rest in peace Daniel Adedeji Taiwo ….When we know better, hopefully we’ll do better….There’s something to learn from this article and many of the responses…[email protected] TUTU, me thinks you summed it up best….

  65. iya oloja

    January 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Im so glad you wrote this article!…it can be veeeeery annoying what people say…for me,what i hated hearing was “you have to move on”….fine,they say dat in the middle of heart felt speeches but i can’t STAND IT !!!!!!!….i literally ‘cringed’ every time i heard dat word…i actually had to tell a friend of mine to just keep quiet at a point…as suggested…people should just keep quiet or if they have to say something,it should be as little as possible abeg…

  66. 9jaPidgin

    January 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    my sista, tank you for dis tori, infact you don talk am finish, di one wey dey vex me pass na im be dose aproko pepo wen go sidon for mornin tilli nite oooo, com dey ask you for were maggi dey wey dem wan take cook soup chop!

  67. MsKim

    January 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I think this is a very well written article, I have never lost someone close to me before and there are loads of things I have become aware of after reading this. I think you should find a way of getting this out to a larger audience, it will teach some’ a few things…. some people might not aware of the implications of their words or actions or lack of them. Great work Ronke!

  68. wemimo

    March 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    this is so rite!! i remeba when i lost mi mom, a friend brought someone along n before we count 1-3..dis stranger started crying…i was rily baffled..she doesnt even knw mi mom! she neva met me before sef! when the throng of mourners were becoming too much, i left d house o! then mi fone almost blew up!……i recited her death like a zilllion times..vy painful n annoying….mtchewww

  69. DOO

    February 4, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Interesting piece. May God comfort all those who mourn

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