Have you ever been duped by a friend you trusted, rejected by loved ones or your investments in a project went south? Such experiences could be very painful, but none can be compared with the pain of losing a loved one.
That kind of pain is everlasting; it stays with you for life.
I remember when a friend lost her dad a few years ago. I struggled within myself to find the right words to say as other friends and I planned visiting. My final resolve was to go there and hold hands. The visit went well; babe was strong enough and she appreciated our visit.
Last year when the doctors had said my brother had few weeks to live, my family and I were all devastated. I can’t explain how excruciating that period was for us. The day I received the call that he had finally given up, I froze for some minutes and tried dialing his number. The doctor picked up and told me to be calm. I kept dialing that number till the day he was buried.
I told my neighbor and he held my hands. He said I needed to take a walk away from home. We finally had that walk downtown by almost midnight. That walk calmed me a bit. Friends and family called, wanting to know how I was. Some came visiting and brought juice and other stuff.
I kept getting calls from home to take heart and the feedback from home was that my mum especially took the news well. I will not forget those that called to ask if I had eaten. I woke up every morning to voice notes from friends. A friend sent me money to take a trip anywhere from home.
I also heard some insensitive statements: How can someone be telling me that if my brother was in Nigeria, the family would have taken him to XYZ prayer ground and he would have been healed? Did she think the family wasn’t praying? Was his ill health not a result of the crappy health system in Nigeria, till we pushed for him to live in a country with better healthcare? What about those that were saying I should not cry? Crying itself is therapeutic.
I don’t think it’s nice to visit the bereaved and ask what happened. Please ask someone else for details other than the bereaved. Please, don’t go there and let the bereaved especially those directly affected face the horror of narrating the story a million times. Tell them nice things like how they were amazing loved ones to the dead. I remember a call I got from my aunty and one other man. They said my brother will be smiling in his grave for the love we showed him during his lifetime and how we stood by him through it all.
This statement from people still gladdens my heart till date… “Ah! Grace, I give it you and your family, the love you showed him was amazing. I am sure if any of you were to take his place, you would have all fought to do”
A friend just lost his dad and some people who visited laid blame on the mum and his siblings for the death. See ehn, even if a little child mistakenly drank a bottle of kerosene and died, going there to blame the mum or dad for their “carelessness” is the worst and most insensitive thing to do.
In the Sosoliso plane crash of 2005, a woman lost all three kids. When she was interviewed, she talked about how people were blaming her for taking her kids to a school in Abuja all the way from Port Harcourt. that was highly unfair.
When you ever have to visit someone, who is bereaved, all that matters is your presence. A hug, holding of hands and just sitting there will be great ideas. Send text messages telling them how you will always be there for them (if you don’t mean it, just keep quiet}. A bereaved may not be in the mood to call so don’t take it personal when they don’t, don’t tell them not to cry. I will even advise that statements like ‘it is God’s Will’ or ‘do not grieve like the unbelievers’ should be avoided. Even if they post about it on Facebook, don’t click the like button (this is my opinion). Comment if at all or send an inbox.
Before you go there and start blaming the bereaved or saying yeye stuff like “if you had listened to me and taken him/her to that prayer house I told you, this wouldn’t have happened”. I am begging you on my knees as I type, just go there sit still like a piece of art by Michelangelo than to spill gibberish. The experience of losing a loved one is tough enough, don’t go there and make things more difficult.
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