Telling Stories 2Titi Olajide Cole
Life after that seemed to return to normal somehow, but I was no longer the same person I was before the loss as I was broken up inside. My husband took to taking me along with him on official trips so I wouldn’t be alone at home while he travels for weeks. On a particular trip to Niger state over a year after Ayomide’s death, I didn’t sleep a wink for three whole days. My husband assumed that whenever he leaves the hotel for work, I would sleep since I didn’t have anywhere to go and no one to visit. At night, I would pretend to be asleep until I was sure my husband was deeply asleep and then pick up a book to read throughout the night. On the morning of the fourth day, I left the hotel shortly after my husband left for work and began to roam about aimlessly. I did that all day long and till date, I still can’t recollect how I got back to the hotel. I was completely ‘out of it’. I believe there was something beyond the natural at play here because I knew nothing about the town and I was too far gone from the hotel to have retraced my steps. Anyway, I got back to the hotel so weak that my husband couldn’t leave me at the hotel to make it to work the next day. That was my first jolt back to reality and the point where I admitted that I needed help. I confessed my inner battles to my husband and that while trying to be strong so that he wouldn’t worry about me, I had isolated him and grieved alone. Ironically, I thought that because I carried the child in my womb my grief would surpass that of the dad. That’s such a falsehood. Culturally, African men don’t grieve openly, they are not expected to shed tears publicly (They have to ‘Se bi omokunrin’). However, this doesn’t take away the fact that they are acutely affected by the child’s loss as the mother. The man now has the additional responsibility of succumbing to the cultural pressures of not grieving as well as holding up the family through the grieving period.
Aside cultural pressures, various beliefs and values also put some pressures on the grieving. Biblically, some believe that Christians should not mourn as ‘unbelievers’, as we would meet up in heaven. This could result in repressed emotions exhibited as anger, as was my case. As a counselor, I was ‘expected’ to be over it at some ‘assumed’ point. Tell you what though, don’t let no one dictate when, how or how long you should mourn. Give yourself enough time to grieve, pick yourself up when you are done with it and go on with the business of living, not merely pretending to live. Disregard cultural, social, religious and societal expectations. Find strength that God has placed in you for such times, believe me when I say the strength for that journey is already in you.
I made it, so will you!!!