My experience with Grief as a Nigerian

Grief is brutally painful…

The process of grieving and mourning is difficult for everyone, add being a Nigerian to this process, and you are in for one hell of tough ride. You see, I’ve seen the way our people expect you to grief and it sucks. Our usual clichés:
‘’It is well’’ (whatever that means)
‘’She’s in a better place’’
‘’She’s with Jesus’’
‘’She’s happy where she is’’

You are not allowed to grief properly, because I guess they don’t understand that grieving is a process. I mean, I was gobsmacked when just a few weeks after my mom passed on, someone actually said to me ‘’Ahn ahn, are you still mourning your mom? In my mind, I’m like seriously? How do you even say that to someone who has just suffered the loss of a loved one? If you got over your loss in two days, bravo, good for you but don’t make someone else who is taking longer feel guilty for expressing their loss.

Our people do not understand that there is no set timetable to grief and the process may be longer or shorter for some. They just feel that it should be time for you to “get over it’’ and move on with your life. Everybody grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

They just don’t get it!!!

I know Someone who suffered a loss at childbirth and our people expected her to snap out of it after a month and carry on with life like it never happened, because it was Gods will. You should thank God, they say, maybe you would have been in and out of the hospital all the time with the child, or maybe you could have died at child birth. Maybe this, maybe that. The fact is that you don’t know, so just shut up and say ‘’I am sorry for your loss, we cannot explain why these things happen. Please accept my condolence.

Everything does not happen for a reason, so stop trying to look for reasons these things could have happened. Life happens.

At my mom’s funeral, a few people said to me ‘’dry your tears and stop crying, so people wouldn’t touch you.’’ Really, F**k that, I had just seen my mother put under the ground and covered up, let me cry, allow me to cry a river. My tears won’t bring her back, but that’s my own way of grieving.

You see because of all these, when I got back to the UK, I went for counselling sessions because, I just needed someone to shut the hell up, listen to me and allow me to cry; not trying to shut me up with all that talk of you cannot question God and ‘’it is well’’ talk. Someone to listen to me and at the end of all my rant, say to me, there are no answers to your questions, things happen that we cannot explain but you need to find the strength to carry on with your life because that is what your mom would have wanted. It’s not a one day process, just take each day as it comes.

I didn’t need anyone to try to explain the situation by telling me things like: She’s in a better place and she’s happy where she is. Frankly, I honestly think that is one of the most insensitive thing to say to someone who is grieving, because for me, at that point, the best place for my mom to be, was right here, with her family, alive and well. She wanted to be at my sister’s wedding surrounded by her grandchildren. She was looking forward to that.

It hurts, it still hurts every day. Kai, there is no epidural for this pain, only time. Time will help numb the pain but it never goes away, you just learn to live with it, and you deal with it better, but that pain will always be there, forever.

My dear Nigerians, the best thing you can do for someone who has suffered a loss is to allow them to grieve by expressing themselves and the best thing you can say to them is ‘’I am sorry for your loss. May comfort find you and may you find the strength to bear the loss.’’

That would work just fine…

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