Tuesday 18 May 2021
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newtimes - 1 month ago

Can we fully overcome grief?

After my sister Queen passed, it struck me how busy I had gotten with life. So busy that I ended up missing out on the special bond we shared, especially during her last days.  Last night, I accidentally (read ‘purposefully’) searched for her emails, and oh, the memories! I always sent her my dreams, my small accomplishments, even my sample articles, before I grew the courage to have them published, and her comments were always so heart-warming. She always had encouragement to share and I really miss that. I suspect that there is a reader rolling their eyes right now because they have had enough of my sister’s demise, but this whole experience has taught me that loss is continuous. Nothing will fully fill the void left by a loved one.  I understand that as time passes, we tend to slowly get used to the fact that they are gone- absurd, I accept that they are gone, but am I supposed to get used to it? I would personally prefer to be remembered with the passing of every hour. In one of her hearty emails, she signed off with: “I know these things may not make sense to you right now because even to me they didn t at some point.  But please just keep the email. One day they will make sense. Love, Queen.” She was talking about her faith, something that she was so passionate about, and to my dismay, the email went un-responded to. What kind of monster had I become? One that does not respond to my wonderful sister’s emotional email? But that is what loss is about. It is a mixture of denial, guilt, anger, bargain, depression, and finally acceptance. Unfortunately, these phases aren’t sequential. Sometimes they visit at the same time, while the other times, one hits you but you won’t even realise what did, until much later.    Do you know someone that has lost a loved one? Be near them. If they do not leave their house for an entire weekend (especially if it would be normally different), pass by unannounced or send them a small gift, make an empathetic gesture. You will never know what they go through behind closed doors, and that small act of kindness could give them hope-something to cling to for a day. While we grieve, we will cancel dates and hangouts, because we have no energy of showing up and not being sad. Smiling becomes so expensive and tedious. You want to avoid people because you cannot match their energy levels and your tears are always too close for comfort, they will start rolling out at the most awkward moment. Grief numbs us. It makes us bitter. It turns us into selfish people, as we constantly focus on the people we have lost instead of those around us trying to love us. It will question your faith, take your appetite away and give you constant fatigue. Your friends and family may come to visit and condole with you, but not for long. And you cannot exactly blame them because that’s how life works. You are expected to reset to ‘default’ soon after, that is why bereavement leave isn’t usually more than a week. Grief is horrendous, but we can survive it together. These are a few tips that I can’t guarantee will work for you right away, but perhaps one day, if practiced, might give you a break from the constant Make a gratitude list. I always kept one but when my counsellor suggested one in October last year, I didn’t even know how to react. “How dare you expect me to be grateful while my heart is in pieces?” It comes off as sheer mockery, but it works, eventually. It reminds you that there are a few moments to be grateful for in the painful life. Find a grief counsellor.  Counsellors, especially strangers are great because they will put you at the ease of talking, crying, being ugly before them, but the more this happens, the more pain you release. There is one I would highly recommend, Mueni Wambua, a buoyant lady with hearty laughter. She has helped many broken hearts mend. Pray some more. If you believe in God, make some more time with God. He remains the strength of your heart, yes- it’s a broken heart but somehow, God figures out how to strengthen it. (Psalms 73:26) Grieve. We are so used to showing the perfect face with a ‘flawless’ smile to society, but allow yourself to go through the emotions. “Grief does not make us imperfect. It makes us human.” ~Sarah Dessen. Write. While writing may not come easy for everyone, it is a great way of telling your story to a non-judgmental party. It relieves the heart.  Can we fully overcome the grief of losing a loved one(s)? No. Every day comes with a different memory, and therefore different emotions. But together, we can come out stronger.  On this note, even as we remember and honour the innocent victims that lost their lives in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, I send out the warmest of hugs and love to their remaining families and friends. Mpore! Where words may not suffice, may music soothe.   The author is Rwanda s first female saxophonist.


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