My Thoughts: Losing a Close One

What words do you use to help someone grieving? What language? What do you do to ease the pain of that person?

I have asked deep within myself. I have searched and tried to form words that can ease or even say what I feel to loved ones, friends, and people that are grieving. But are words ever needed? Are they sufficient? What is sufficient?

My sister lost her son early last year; he was 23 and had just received his master’s degree with honors from an American university in India. She has four children—he was her last. They were quite inseparable but he died so suddenly. Now, all she has is the memory they created together. I could not believe it, nor understand it. I did my best to be there for her and tried to visit her as much as I could, but I felt there were no words or nothing that I could say to help her. I felt my being there was all I could give.

I know she is in pain. I can feel it, but what can I do except stand by her and her family and to have the faith that he is happy wherever he is?

Some months back, a lady I have never met but who was in the same reading club with me lost two of her only children in a car accident. I felt her pain. I felt her anger and sorrow and I just could not help but reach out to her, but words failed me. I closed my eyes for a moment and I felt it was me going through what she was going through, and I could not hold back the tears and the pain I felt. I have two children of my own, and if I should lose either of them, I don’t know what I would do…

Losing loved ones is part of our journey. How we handle the pain, sorrow, and anger is also part of our journey. As they say, life is messy, painful, sad, happy, frightening, and much more. But how can we manage it? Sometimes it is just too messy and we get caught up and lost in the pain and sorrow, and it becomes too much for us to bear. The idea that life continues after death is foreign to many of us, we have been brought up with the idea that death is bad and it is the end. We have become so scared of death that we have forgotten it is part of the circle of life; it is part of us. Life cannot be without death. It is the end for us still living, but it is the beginning of a new journey for the dead. And if we allow it, it will be a beginning for all of us who are grieving.

I once read Kahlil Gibran’s book The Prophet, where I picked up something very important. He said that there has to be pain in joy and joy in pain, for every person that brings you pain must bring you joy, and every experience that brings you joy will bring you pain. I wonder how we can see the joy in the pain of death. Could it be by allowing ourselves to grieve, to be present in our pain, to celebrate the memories and the life of our loved ones? Could it be by being with family, or communities that have gone through what you are going through?

I am in an environment where grieving is frowned upon, where you cannot even mark the grave of your loved one. I still don’t understand this; if I should lose someone very close to me to death, I would want to know where they are buried. I would like to visit that place and talk to that person once in a while, but no, my culture/religion stops me from getting involve as a woman and taking full charge of knowing and deciding how to mark the final resting place of someone I have known and loved all their life.

In fact, my culture/religion orders pictures of loved ones that died to be hidden, turned to face backwards, or to be removed for a very long time. I find this odd. After all, this person existed. This person was part of me and you. This person made history and created memories with us; you cannot just remove all that because they are gone.

I feel each person has his or her way of grieving, and people should be allowed to do what is best for them. Nobody should tell you it is time to move on. Nobody should tell you that God would not want you to do this or behave that way. Nobody should tell you your tears are enough. Nobody should judge you for grieving, because only you know what you are feeling and only you can tell when it is time to move on.

We feel and deal with the pain and anger of death differently, so give the space, support, and love you can to people around you that have lost a loved one. Just be there. Guide them to celebrate a life lived and to know life continues, and to look for little signs that our loved ones are all around us.

A friend of mine placed the quote below as her profile picture, and I feel that it will be soothing words for anyone grieving to read:

“To anyone reading or not reading this that has lost someone dear to him/her, words can never express what I want to say to you. I don’t know you, but I know you in oneness, and my thoughts and prayers are with you….May love and light guide you through your grief, and may the memory you have created with that soul be a reminder that they are closer to you in death than they were when they were alive, for now they are with your soul and they communicate with your soul. “

My prayer is this: May we find love, light, and joy in all our pain. May the angels of love and light be our guide in times of sorrow. May our loved ones here or past find peace and love always. May they be the soft voice that speaks to us in our pain, and may their memory be a comfort to us.


Rahinatu Adamu

About the Author | Rahinatu Adamu

Rahina is a dreamer and a lover of life, and she is still trying to find her way in this amazing journey of life. She loves to read and write. She is married and a mum of two adorable boys. She lives in Abuja, Nigeria, and has spent over 13 years of her life working with the most vulnerable in her community.

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