Today, we shall be looking at “How to Cope with the Loss of Loved Ones”
The Idoma Nation has an adage that says “before prescribing drugs for arthritic patient, you have to show him or her your front shin”. The importantt of this statement is demonstrating by experience the efficacy and therapeutic capacity of the drugs you are prescribing having used it yourself with proofs to show by your healed shin.
I can comfortably say when it comes to surviving or coping with the death of a loved one, I can conveniently come boldly forward to show my “shin”, having had a dose of it myself. Without much ado, I have suffered the loss of the two most important people in my short life: my mum and my wife.
I lost my mum at a very tender age some 26 years ago. Though a child I still have fond memories of my mum and when she departed, the pains were and still feel like a sharp hot iron piercing through my heart. The details of her death and life thereafter is a public notice. It’s available worldwide via my book “Putting Your Talent to Work”. In this book, I dedicated a whole chapter to her entitled “Mama’s Book”.
When my mum died, it didn’t seem right to me that life should go on. The worst had happened and the world had come to an abrupt end. Life became meaningless and the whole world was plunged into acute darkness from which there was no hope of even the tiniest glimmer of light or hope. I had thought mum could not die but I was totally wrong.
It is an awful thing for a child to understand death in such fullness. I had already had one taste of it. Something had departed from my mother or been stolen away in our absence. While we were away, something vital- her breath- was stolen from her. Mama did not look herself when we got to Otada, her ancestral home for the burial. Her eyes stirred not a flicker; not a breath of air came from her parted lips.
Her mother’s (my grand mum) sobbing was heart breaking, open and unashamed, mother crying for the death of her last child. I understood too much and not enough in that moment and what I knew hurt so deep inside of me. I thought and actually prayed to die. For a while I did. Or at least I let go of what faint hope that was in me all the while that she was going to survive. Something very vital, something I can’t really explain, also died in me and was buried with her.
Her elder sister later told me that Mama confided in her that she had heard mighty voices calling her from the valleys behind the general hospital in Okpobeka village, that it was for us her children that she held unto life with the thin cord that long, a period of inestimable nightmare and pains, a period of hanging at the precipice between life and death, a period in the valley of indecision whether to let the thin cord snap or hold unto what was left of her breath, indecision occasioned by mother’s undying love just for her children. Mama may be gone but she lives in us and through us.
The book is available worldwide and on the internet. Grab your own copy.
Then while I was married and my wife was playing the role of both wife and mum, it happened again like a thunderbolt. My wife came like a flash of light-brief, bright but impactful. She came like a hurricane and colossus whose impacts are still being felt after they are gone. She was like an actress, whose role was brief on the scene but whose impacts cannot be denied.
Exactly two years ago, she departed this world again.
I will not want to bother you with the details. I only want to share with you how I got my healing that will facilitate your own healing.
LESSONS I LEARNT
I learnt few lessons from her demise anyway.
- Death is a must-pay-debt we all owe and must pay one day. My wife did not want to die. She loved life and everything that made life good. If she could prevent death, she could had done it. But death is a must!
- Death is a portal, a door and never the end or cessation of life. It is simply moving from one realm of existence to another. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that “to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord”. My wife left her physical body to be present with her Maker.
- Life is a gift, so treasure it. No matter what you are passing through, on a daily basis, thank God for your life and appreciate Him the more. It doesn’t matter whether what you are asking for is answered or not. Life is more important than silver and gold and whatever request you present to God.
- Lastly, I learnt that life is short. It is like the market that some come and leave almost immediately while some stay till late in the evening. This is where the youths get it wrong. Death is never in their agenda. They see life an adventure to live for forever. One day, you must go whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not. So be prepared!
EQUATION OF LIFE
Her death has taught me the simple equation of life:
L is life, E1 is point of entry into life (birth) and E2 is the point of exit (death). At both points, we don’t know and are not important. The important part of this equation is the innocent looking dash (-), the connecting dot from birth to death.
The dash is the summary of all you did, did not do, the battles fought or did not fight, the love gave and received, all the cries you cried, all the laughter, all the failures and achievements, all the friends and enemies. In short it is the summary of your life.
The length of this dash is irrelevant but the impact you made in the length of the dash, the number of lives you were able to touch and affect positively. That is:
- The hungry you fed;
- The thirsty you gave drink;
- The naked you clothed;
- The homeless you provided shelter for;
- The blind you became eyes;
- The deaf you became ears;
- The dumb you became a voice;
- The lame you became legs;
- The widows you became their husbands;
- The orphans you became parent;
- The lost you pointed the way home for;
- The sinner you led to Christ.
For my wife, she played her roles well:
- She provided a home for many-students on vacation, business people from all over Nigeria; job seekers and run aways;
- Nobody ever came to our house without having something to eat, no matter what, right from our days of little beginning in Abuja;
- Our house in the village is always like a Mecca whenever we were home;
- She trained many people including orphans up till secondary schools. The January, before she died, she paid the WAEC and NECO fees of two orphans;
- During Christmas, she bought clothing materials to both old and young, especially orphans and widows;
- Nobody ever came with a problem to her without getting some kind of succor;
- She provided raw foods to many households in our neighbourhoods.
Friends you may be hurting from the loss of your loved one, in moment like this, cry if you must; weep if you must, wail if that will help and mourn if that will relieve you. But never you forget that there are other loved ones still alive.
A man, his wife and two kids were escaping from Cuba on a small boat when suddenly there came stormy waves on the water. This caused one of the kids to fall off the boat, who was immediately swallowed up by the ferocious ocean.
Devastated by this incident, the father put the paddle down, sat on a corner of the boat and burst into tears.
With the boat almost sinking, the wife took the paddle in one hand and the other hand holding the only surviving child, said “yes we lost one of our dear children. If we don’t get up and row this boat, we are going to lose the one still alive”.
HOW I WAS ABLE TO OVERCOME
To be frank I overcome through the Word of God.
I saw from the Scriptures that God is always right. God is always doing good. He is never wrong. Whatever God does is always good.
In Acts 10: 38, the scriptures say “…He went about doing good…” God is always doing good. But that’s not to say God killed my mum and wife or to say that their death was good. No! Death killed them and not God.
In Romans 8:28, the bible notes that “all things worked together for good…” All things may not be good but they work certainly for our good. All things may not appear good but the end is always for our good. We may not see it at the beginning anyway, but that does not change anything.
I listened to a tape by Bishop T.D Jakes on “Death as a Portal”. Death he said is a door, not the end or cessation of life. Death is a transition from one realm of existence to another realm of existence, a separation from one world to another world..
THE THREE-WORLD MYSTERY AND TWO TRANSITIONS
When the child is born, he cries out because leaving the only world he knows- his mother’s womb- the first world for every child:
- He eats;
- He pooh pooh and wee wee;
- He sleeps;
- He drinks;
- He plays;
- He does everything in his mother’s womb;
- Then suddenly at the 3rd trimester, the mother pushes to bring him out– to the second world, our world that we live now.
- So he cries in protest. They are forcing him out of the comfort of the only world he ever knows in his mother’s womb.
- So he “dies” in a process we call birth…to the world in his mother’s womb-the first world- and transits to this world-the second world! This is the first transition. He is separated from the first world to the second world!
- The suddenly he opens his eyes and begins to compare:
- there is light in the world;
- much bigger space;
- other people who show love, care and warmth;
- there are different things in various shapes, colours and sizes which seem so beautiful. For the first time, he sees what he never saw before- his mother’s face. Then he smiles. He reaches for the breast. He sucks and when he is satisfied, he smiles back to the mum again.
- He the ultimately falls in love with this realm and wants to live in it forever. Again something happens he leaves this second world in a process we call death to the third world. This is the second transition. And we cry, mourn and sorrow for that transition.
- In this transition, we celebrate, invite friends and colleagues, we throw parties, we eat and drink. But in the second transition, we cry, mourn and wail.
- I have not died before but the people who died and resurrected say at the point of transition, they saw bright light and people over there. Some have to be chased by their relatives or asked by God to return to this life.
- I believe like the transition from the first world to the second world, those who transit from the second world to the third world which we call death, prefer that realm of existence than this world, full of pains, anguish and inequalities. The third world is pain-free, sorrow-free and anxiety-free.
- At the point of transiting to the third world they person may cry just like the baby transiting from the first to the second world cries, but upon opening their eyes at the other end, they will not want to come back to this world just like the baby.
- So if they are happy there why won’t you be happy here for them as well? Why crying and sorrowing. We may be crying and sorrowing, but they are happy out there!
- Death is a door to move from one realm to the other realm and if you will not move, please don’t hinder those who are going.
MY CONSOLATIONS AND JOY
But in all these, I have few consolations and joy.
- Firstly, I know my wife made it to heaven. Vision in the parlour in our house in Lagos;
- My consolation is time. People keep telling me time is a great healer and that with time, the pains will go away. They say time washes away pains. But I remember, while my mother died 24 years ago, that was the exact way they tried to console me. But then 24 years down the line, the pains are as fresh as it happened yesterday.
Now the question is that, if 24 years is not adequate to erase the pains of my mother’s death, how much time do I need to erase my wife’s death? Truth be told, I feel my wife’s death more than my mother’s. Both are painful but in different ways. How much time is needed to ease these pains? Perhaps, 40 years! Perhaps it is going to be a lifelong pain.
- Her death led to the salvation of not less than 28 persons came forward to give their lives to Christ.
- She lived her life to the fullest, not in terms of how long she lived for age fades into insignificance in the face of time and eternity but the impacts she made on other lives as stated above.
To experience true healing and to cope with tragic loss of loved ones, like me go back to your holy book irrespective of your religion and get succor. There must be something written somewhere in your holy book that can heal you. But most important of all;
- Learn to Give Thanks
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, God says “In everything, gives thanks….”
But humanly speaking, some things are too difficult to give thanks for, like the death of my wife. The question is “could God have stopped it if He wanted to? Yes I must say for in Jeremiah 32:27, He says “…is there anything too hard for Me?
But why did He not stop it? That I don’t know but I believe when we meet in heaven, we will understand by and by.
- Sorrow Not
In 1 Thes. 4: 13, the scriptures says “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope”. Remember, they are dead but are only sleeping and will soon wake up at the sound of the trumpet.
Any time we face a disappointment in life or go through a loss, we have to remember that there’s another chapter in front of us. We can’t stop on that page, we have to keep moving forward. Instead of focusing on our losses, let us focus on the future, let go of the past and press forward because there is hope after all.
If you are struggling with any of these, remember you are not alone. We are all in it together working hard to help you heal.
- The world is turmoil;
- The world is in crisis;
- The world is sick;
- The world is dis-eased
- The world is in search of answers;
- The world needs healing;
- Together we can heal the world.
Friends, my commitments remain:
I will keep talking and I will keep writing
- I will keep encouraging you,
- I will keep motivating you,
- I will keep supporting you,
- I will keep standing by you and
- I will keep telling you the truth and that is there is hope despite your losses.
This is why I wrote an internationally acclaimed book “Putting Your Talent to Work” published by Authorhouse, UK and available on kindle-ebooks, google, amazon.co.uk and authorhouse.oc.uk. The book is also in about seven international languages including English, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, French and Portuguese.
For counseling, appointment and invite or to order for “Putting You Talent to Work” call 07064334855, 08117848934 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter: @odelord; Facebook: Ode Idoko and LinkedIn: Ode Idoko; skype: ode.idoko