Tag Archives: death

How Soon Is Too Soon When Grieving?

How soon is too soon when it comes to moving on after a loss? Is there a designated time frame for grief? what is considered “moving on too soon?” How long is the grieving period and who determines it? Do you ever stop grieving?

So it’s been a little over a month since God called my older sister but I couldn’t make it home (home is in Cameroon – Central Africa) for the burial because of a few reasons, some which I could have controlled and others not so much. I tried to be a part of the event as much as I could and my parents did their best etching the ceremony with every detail for me to grasps.

Everyone who attended agreed as I had mentioned in my tribute post for her that she was indeed an angel. The sign for them was the fact that, rain which had been pouring nonstop for a month ceased for three days straight, allowing for a smooth flow of affairs including her return into the soil from which she was made.

A part of me refused to accept her death when I just found out, which is the reason why some of my friends still don’t know I lost my sister. After talking with my parents at length, reminiscing on her beautiful existence albeit troubled, we all agreed that she was finally resting. She had suffered enough and God had decided it was time she rested from the struggle. With that new understanding, we acceded to see it as a celebration of her life instead of a life lost.

Acknowledging this did not negate her absence from us, neither did it mean we didn’t grieve her because the fact remains that she is no longer here with us. So in the days since her passing, I have had to pause in the midst of “happenings” to remind myself that I am grieving.Sometimes I fear that people will think I moved on too quickly or that I don’t look like someone who lost a loved one barely 5 weeks ago.

I had planned a mini-vacation with my best friend before the tragedy struck two weeks prior. We ended up going for the trip anyways at the scheduled time but I couldn’t stop feeling guilty while we were away. My aunt and uncle looked at me askew when I mentioned the trip but I made nothing of it until now. I have been trying to get back to the blog too and have had few topics to write on but It never felt right for me to just come here and continue writing on random topics without addressing the issue.

It seems I put these pressures on myself right? But they are not unfounded given the society we live in now. Too often, people are quick to pass judgements on how people should live their lives including how one should grieve but do not realize that people grieve differently. While some do better constantly reflecting and withdrawing from society after such a loss, others immerse themselves in and get lost in it. It is all about a finding the coping mechanism that works best for you and that something worked for you, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for someone else.

Until you wear the shoes, you will never know exactly where it pinches most. So before you ask me to come down from my horse as no one has made me the spokesperson for the aggrieved, you should know I was one of the outsiders who criticized people about either their method of grieving or “moving on” too quickly.

Two truths prevail here which are; life continues whether we accept it or not and secondly; in my view, we never really stop grieving. The best way to honor my sister I have found, is to live a better life that she would be proud of and that means carrying on with life. Also, I don’t think I will ever stop missing her because she was a huge part of my life. I will just learn to deal with the void better. Whereas crying was instantaneous when I thought of her; now, pangs of pain, of longing, of sadness rip me inside and it is at such times I have to remind myself that she is resting with God, with her maker and creator.

When next you see a picture of that woman/man on social media smiling or simply living their life after a loss, do not be quick to judge because that might just be their way of dealing with the loss. There is no set period for grieving and there is definitely nothing as moving on too quickly. We never stop grieving either, we get use to it but the void remains.

To all those grieving the loss of a dear loved one, may God console you and yours in only the way that He can and may you find understanding, solace and comfort in His arms, believing that your dearly departed has returned to the Creator. Be blessed.

A Star Has Fallen

“It is not the length of life, but the depth of life” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
11016087_10205994681166453_8888472999268808309_n
I sat still, shock electrifying my whole body and hairs rising on my skin as I tried to process the news my mom had just told me. I should have suspected as I did at other times that a call from my mom in the middle of the week was no good. The tone of her voice and her unusual questions gave her away but I would have never guessed what she was about to tell me. How could Elvis Mbene be dead? He was only 33 years old with a brand new wife. So how could he be dead?
As I sat there frozen, trying to process the horrifying information; memories began flooding me all at once and I started to reminisce on his beautiful soul.
Anyone who knew Elvis would attest to his charm, his ability to warm everyone’s heart with his contagious smile, his kind nature and the dexterity with which he pulled a crowd. Elvis was a special being; determined at a young age to charter his own course in life, leaving impressions on multitudes everywhere he went.
I met Elvis when I was 11 shortly after we relocated to Limbe and became neighbors. Through our parents’ friendship, we became acquaintances which quickly translated to attraction towards each other. I remember when I got my first kiss very vividly because it was the Christmas of 2001 and it was from Elvis. It was also the first and last time I got the beating of my life from my dad because he saw him kissing me. I had never regretted that day though, at least not the kiss and I remember it now like it was just last week. Over the years, the “crush” and “attraction” towards each other gradually turned to mutual admiration.
Elvis wasn’t just the son to Chief and Mrs Mbene, he was a son to every parent in Alpha club. He wasn’t just the brother to his sisters but a brother to many in Alpha club and a friend to all. It is very easy to see how and why Elvis was so likeable. He was the first person in our neighborhood who made something out his life. He had joined the Cameroon army as a sub-lieutenant after graduating from military school young. He was the envy of some but an inspiration to many and kids were aplenty who looked up to him for mentorship and friends abounded from every corner.
Gradually he climbed the ranks through dedication to his work. The army uniform never looked so good on anyone before and he wore it with so much charisma. As beloved as he was, so he was revered. His presence commanded a room but his personality, his smile shown through and drew people in. Every one, old and young, family and friends. He was “notre Capitaine”.
Dying at 33, some may say he lived a short life but everyone who knew him would agree that Elvis lived his purpose on earth. He loved his country so much he did all he could to serve it in the army. A look through his work archive shows a man who had so much tenacity, courage, determination and love for his job. The very thing he loved doing, ironically is the very thing that claimed him unexpectedly.
Elvis had just been recently deployed to Northern Cameroon to assist the fight against the terrorist insurgent group known as Boko Haram. His vehicle was on tour of the area when it ran over a bomb, believed to have been planted by the sect, killing him and the driver, another officer too instantly.  http://news.yahoo.com/two-cameroon-soldiers-killed-suspected-boko-haram-bomb-141758514.html

Boko Haram has always been real to me. I stood with Nigeria and the rest of the world when the Chibok girls were taken and still pray for their safe return. I mistakenly watched a video of them slaying a human like it was goat they were slaughtering for soup and my mind has never been able to unsee that horror again. Almost every week, I hear of a new video released by their leader threatening the peace of their targets. What might have started as a cruel joke has gradually spun out of control into the beast now known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram has always been real, I have never doubted their existence or taken lightly the images of pain and suffering inflicted on the masses by them.
They have always been real, but on Tuesday they got realer when they hit so close to home. They got realer when they snatched at a very young age, one of the promising leaders of tomorrow’s Cameroon. They got realer when they took Captain Elvis M Mbene from his parents, sisters, wife, friends, neighborhood, city, province and country. Boko Haram got realer than I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams.
Boko Haram needs to be stopped before they cause further harm to innocent families. Whoever stumbles on this tribute, please keep the #stopbokoharam alive on social media platforms; maybe when it is seen enough times, we would have adequate help to combat them and/or maybe, just maybe our leaders will decide to take them seriously and find a solution to this madness once and for all. Surely, their lives and that of thousands already lost in this battle are not in vain.
His colleague’s family is in mourning too, for they too have lost a son, brother, friend perhaps a husband. Like us, they are trying to make sense of this senseless tragedy. One thing is sure, that though they died in the line of duty, they died heroes. They died defending the motherland from the thugs who call themselves boko haram. Cameroon didn’t just loose soldiers, the South West province, the town of Limbe and the neighborhood of Alpha Club lost a son, a brother, a husband, a friend and a hero.
The nation of Cameroon and anyone who knew Elvis personally is aggrieved, for we didn’t just loose a great compatriot, we lost a wonderful human being. In death as in life, he continues to draw people in but this time is different; because there is a huge void, emptiness that we would never be able to fill except in our hearts. I am grateful for the time I had with him and I will forever treasure those memories. He may be dead but his star shines bright forever, in our hearts.
RIP to all the soldiers who have lost their lives fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The Thing About Death Is…

Death is nothing, it’s something, it’s scary, it’s unavoidable, it’s unpredictable, it’s menacing.(feel free to add whatever adjective you wish to describe how you feel about death).

If you follow the news, then by now you know a certain Dr. Miles Monroe died in a plane crash last week November 9th. Dr Miles Monroe was the founder and pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries, a mega church out of the Bahamas and he was on his way to a global outreach forum that held every year, when he was killed in the plane crash along side his wife and other passengers.

The christian social media platforms have been on fire with so many people in shock, some in wonder how such a man of God could die like that and others in plain disbelief. In the second week since the tragedy, people are still in shock and asking questions, questions like why him, to which we will never have answers to. The common factor in all the emotions shared is death.

Some people are wondering why a man who seemed as upright as Dr Miles would die in such a terrible way, others shocked that he died at all. Death is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care whether they flew executive or commercial plane. It doesn’t care whether it was Dr Miles or a regular Joe, it was ready to strike and strike it did.  As Christians, the one thing that the Bible tells us we should expect is death because it is inevitable. It says believing that we would live for ever is foolishness and that we should expect to be ‘called’ home by and to our creator.

I don’t know how you feel about death but for me, my death doesn’t scare me so much as that of that of my parents. I am 27 and granted, I still have a lot I want to accomplish and achieve. So many incomplete dreams like me being a published author, finally graduating and going for a doctorate, experiencing amazing love with someone equally amazing, exploring the world and enjoying its spoils, given us by God himself. (My list is too long  right?) Somehow though, I am comfortable with the idea of me dying if it had to be this moment.

Depending on your opinion, I might have lived or not yet lived long enough or I ought to have achieved some of those things I mentioned on my to-do list. Well, there really isn’t no manual on how to live your best life (though some how-to authors would argue me on that). For some it happens earlier and others, it is later. I used to get broody over the fact that stuff happened late for me but I am ok with that now as long as I am working on it.

My point is, even though I am no where close to those dreams, if I was to die this very minute, I would be alright with that because in my heart of hearts, I know, I am certain I am going to my maker, to God, to Heaven.  I couldn’t tell you how I know that,only that I know. I am still in search of my true purpose and the reason why God has me here on earth and I know that if I am still here, it’s because I have not accomplished that purpose yet. But the moment I am dying and  I am aware of it, I know it would be God calling me home because somehow, I must have fulfilled that purpose.

Now my parents death is a whole other ball game. How is it that I am comfortable dying but not ready to let my parents go? you ask. For starters, I am Cameroonian and I am sure other/most Africans will feel the same way, in that my parents have not enjoyed the fruit of their labor yet.

God could not have chosen any better man and woman to bring together to be parents to me and my siblings. If I were to return to this world a second time, I would want the same parents. They have loved me and my siblings selflessly, given up so much to ensure our success, they prayed for us, blessed us and kept us safe in the best way that they could/can. They gave us the best education in Cameroon and they are the very reason I am in this beautiful country called America. They did all that and are still doing all that.

It is a very African thing to take care of your parents when you have succeeded after they have toiled for you, but even if it wasn’t I would still want to do that for them. That is my way of showing them how grateful I am that they answered the call to be my parents and did a marvelous job at it. It is my way of saying thank you for all those years of selfless giving, for all the times they didn’t have but went above and beyond for me and my siblings. It is my way of showing them how much I love, cherish and respect them.

So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to show them that. I just started and I haven’t even gone a quarter of that journey yet. So while I am aware that they are going to die someday, that I will have to say good-bye someday, I know I am not ready for those good-byes just yet. The thought of not having them here with me leaves me teary-eyed every single time. Simply put, their death scares me.

While death is imminent, the means of it is not. If we were all to know that we would die someday and know how we would die, I am almost certain the majority would change how they died. I think what scares us more about death is not even the fact that we would die but how we would die. If Dr Miles knew he was going to die in that crash and have the choice of choosing a better way to die, I am sure he would have chosen it.

Again like the Bible tells us, we neither know the day nor the hour. Death comes like a thief at night to steal us to our maker(hopefully for all of us). I pray and hope Dr Miles family find solace and comfort in God because only He can give them that now and help them deal with it. To our eyes and hopefully to God’s, he was a faithful servant and he must be done with his purpose here on earth. May God grant all those who mourn his loss and that of the other passengers consolation in only the way he can.

For the rest of us, hopefully we strive to live each day better and achieving those dreams, so that when it is time and we know it is time, we can only be glad to return to our maker.

How do you feel about death? Do you ever think about it? How is your day going? Stay warm, the weather this morning is brutal.

peace, love and warm jackets.

 

 

Grieving, Or Lack Thereof

I woke up this morning not very bright or positive, and I wasn’t my usual bubbly self either but I wasn’t sure why. I proceeded with my day and updated this blog, then I went to work. I work with kids and there is no way to be gloomy around them. So I went about my work duties.

At about 10am this morning, my dad called me and the first thing he said was ‘I should hold my mind and be strong’. My adrenaline shot up and I began to panic. All kinds of things started going through my mind and then he repeated himself. This time, his voice was shaky and I could feel the tears, pain, sorrow in his voice. My dad was crying.

I immediately remembered the only time in my life I had seen my dad cry before was when my grandmother, his mother died. I knew instinctively this wasn’t good. I braced myself. It took him another few seconds before he said my uncle was dead.

I had just brought my kids (the kids I nanny for) to a bookstore for story time and we were just about to alight from the car when my dad called. So I went still when he said that  and asked him which of my uncles. He replied me ‘Pa Georgy’ as we usually called him. My heart stopped.

He was my father’s older brother. I sat there and I didn’t know what to tell my dad. He was clearly distraught and I didn’t know what to tell him. I asked if he was sick and dad said he wasn’t. He said he actually spoke to him yesterday on new year’s day and that his wife said,they found him unconscious and rushed him to the hospital only for him to be pronounced dead.

My dad said he would let me know the funeral details later. I went in to the bookstore for story time and met a bunch of nannies. Everybody was in a good mood and talking and the kids were playing. I found myself putting up a face. I didn’t get a chance to sob even for a few minutes and I was on my feet all day.

But I did get a few minutes to myself here and there and I found that when I thought about my uncle, there were no tears. I felt sorry that he is dead. I felt bad about all the motions that my father must be going through because he was and is very close with all his siblings. I felt sorry for my cousins and his wife. I felt sorry for the whole family. I felt bad internally and really sad and sorrowful but I couldn’t bring myself to cry.

I was wondering if that made me a bad person. I knew my uncle, he visited often as did I and my siblings to his family. We are close with our cousins, so I expected that hearing such news, I would breakdown and fall apart. But I didn’t. I am confused this evening with myself. Per my culture, we grief very differently from others and our grief is very visible.

So I kind of felt disappointed that I tried to cry but I couldn’t. I know I miss my uncle so much. I had not seen him in seven years but I remember him vividly. In my mind’s eye, I could still see him cracking his very subtle jokes, making everyone laugh but himself and he had a walk that commanded respect and audience. I miss his laugh and his whole demeanor and I feel for my cousins who are now fatherless even though they are all adults.

I prayed and pray God receives him and that his soul does rest in peace, but I am wondering if the lack of tears or crying on my part, means I fell short of mourning my uncle. If it means that I didn’t grieve my uncle properly. I am sort of torn on how to grief for my uncle or the lack thereof of grief, for my uncle.

Uncle ‘Pa’ George, RIP . Until we meet again, we will all miss you. Rest in the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He alone knows best. We love you and miss you. We started the year with a bang I guess. My inner sarcastic self speaking.

Have a blessed night and please say a prayer for me and my family and my uncle. Thank you for stopping by and I would appreciate any kinds words you have for me during this difficult time.

Have a blessed night.