Mourning is something deep that no one can really demystify . It is too personal to stereotype. No simple explanation can explain the odds and the ends around it. The pain it causes is so raw and sharp, it jabs and tears almost beyond repair.
This Sunday was mother’s day and all my siblings and I were gathered at home to eat goodies and celebrate our mother. We had our usual Sunday service with mum leading the prayers spiritedly as usual. A prayer for the healing of the country from the Corona virus pandemic, a prayer for those in the flood stricken lowlands. A prayer for those of our relatives who are in lack and have not known the joy of salvation.
What caused that all too raw pain to jab at me again was the closing prayer. From as far back as I can recall, mum has always made it her business to pray for the family members individually. She starts with my dad, calling him out by name and mentioning his needs. Then follows the children one by one from the eldest to the youngest. Each of us would get our name called out, and all our needs brought forward to God. I always blush whenever she calls out my name, it always makes me feel special.
Anyway, on this particular day she mentioned only five names in stead of the six we are used to. She started with her second born child’s name instead of the first born . This made me blink back a few difficult tears and swallow hard. The reality hits me for the umpteenth time that my sister is no more.
Late last year my eldest sister passed on. This experience is by far my worst. It was even more difficult since the news were broken to me over the phone, hundreds of kilometres away from home. I wept like a child, I cannot remember how I got back to my room.
My first reaction was to blame God. I could not really understand why that would happen to us. We had prayed over the situation, believed for healing but the worst happened. This however was short lived as I remembered where my faith lay and all the good I had in my life. God was good and I knew it. I quickly repented of this and went to sleep.
The next few days before I travelled upcountry to lay my sister to rest were the unending. My heart was broken over and over again every time someone expressed their condolences. I felt a loss every time someone left me alone after they had condoled with me. It was a rude reminder of what had happened.
I arrived home after three days, and here my heart was broken again. The sombre mood and all the tears were all too much. Again the tears came back like a flood and for the next few days all I could do was cry and sleep. It was all too much.
The day before my sister was finally laid to rest, we had a short service at night. My sister’s picture was printed on a huge canvas banner and candles were lit all around it. It was beautiful. Seeing her on a banner, smiling beautifully never to be seen again broke my heart once again. We all cried that day. I have shed tears before, but those ones would not cease. They flowed out bitterly and painfully. I made no sound at all.
We laid her to rest a week after her sudden death. She was buried in our little family cemetery, next to my grandparents and the other relatives gone by. On this day strength failed me. I could not really stand on my own. As we made the final prayer my heart did a dance in my chest. I had to hold on to my cousin’s strong arm for support.
I hid my face in his chest and cried. This time the sound did come and it was a deep groan. I seemed to be choking on something. As the earth hit the coffin , all I could whisper to him was:
“My heart is breaking! My heart is breaking! My heart is breaking!”.He never said a thing, I guess his heart was breaking too.
Mother fainted as soon as the coffin started descending into the grave. My sister passed out too, dad was driven off as soon as the first lump of soil thudded on the coffin. I could not see any other person since my eyes were tightly shut. I did not want to witness the soil covering the coffin. The saddest day of my life was coming to a close and all I remember saying was “My heart is breaking!”
Months have gone by and it has not gotten a little better. However the slightest smell of ‘tangawizi’ in tea reminds me of her. I once sat down in town and wiped away a few tears after passing the restaurant we frequented with her. Even lectures in class that mention a cause of death related to hers always strikes a nerve. Time has not healed me yet, maybe I should wait.
I have written this because I realized on mother’s day that many of us may be feeling this. As I blinked back the tears, I thought about the pain others may be feeling. I know many people who have lost their parents or spouses or siblings, and I always fear for them. I fear that they are suffering as I am. More often than not this is the case.
It is difficult to heal after losing someone dear to you. It hurts in a way I cannot describe, some heal faster than others. Others do not. We miss those departed, we long for their presence in our life. When things go amiss you keep wondering if it would have turned out better had they been present.
A whiff of their perfume is enough to awaken long forgotten memories. A picture with them in it is sufficient to get anyone bombarded with a myriad of emotions.
A talk I heard on the topic of mourning described mourning as loving those ones departed after they are gone. It is a bitter sweet kind of love since it is so new and strange. You do not know to whom or how to express it. It breaks the heart since you can do nothing about it. It is sweet since it sparks emotions and feelings for the departed one as if they were next to you.
I miss my sister dearly, with a furious kind of nostalgia. I know many feel the same kind of longing that I do. I cannot give anyone any advice with regard to this, seeing that I have no solution myself. But what I believe is that grief is personal and very intimate. A process that is borne individually and differently. Some heal very fast while some heal slowly.
Dear friend take your time in this. Cry when you need to and smile when you remember something good about your departed loved ones. Cherish these people and the memories you hold of them. Speak about them if you can, look at pictures, visit their favourite places. Remember them and love them even after they are gone,that is all you can do.
Mourn them and miss them, but also learn to let go. Do this with the hope of seeing them again someday; when your journey on this old earth is done. Maya Angelou once said that love liberates. Love lets go and allows the one being loved to walk away. Whether this person is in America or in Asia, your love still remains. You love them in America as you would love them in the house. Love them in the city as you would love them in the country! You love them in death as you would in life!