This one is written by my soulsister, the beautiful (of looks and of pen) ‘Pemi Aguda (@UberBetty).
You’ve probably lost someone before. By lost, I mean to death. You’ve probably lost someone to death before. Can you tell me how it works?
Can you tell me what to say? Please tell me what to say to my eighty-something year old grandmother who has tears rolling down her cheeks. The death tales of these strangers who are supposed to be relatives don’t seem to be helping her. She still shudders and lifts her frail fingers from her chest to her head. She still cries out- “My daughter is gone!” Her first daughter is gone. A mother shouldn’t have to bury her child.
Please tell me what to do. I’ve been serving her hot beverages. Am I doing it wrong? Horlicks is supposed to induce sleep, right? That’s what the jar says. I’ve added Milo and milk too, just in case. But her eyes refuse to give in to sleep. I’ve rubbed her shoulders and her back. I have thrown a duvet on her legs. But she is still releasing long sighs that rack through her. When her body shakes this way, I am scared.
Please tell me what to say to these strangers that have flooded our small house and are letting the silence go on. Thank you for coming? How does one answer to ‘Sorry for your loss/ My condolences’? How? Please tell me, I want to be better at this.
I have given my mother hugs. I hug her whenever I see her. I squeeze her fingers tight- I hear that’s supposed to relay some message. That I’m here whenever she needs me. That I care. Am I doing it wrong? Should I be using two hands instead of one? The rice I cooked is still uneaten on the tray. Or is rice wrong for the occasion? Should I make eba? It’s easier to swallow. Please tell me! I want my mother to smile again. I want her to stop muttering- “I watched my sister die!” Help me help her. This must be hard to live with.
I’ll be seeing my cousin in a few hours. I’d like to know what to do before hand. Please tell me what to do and say to her when she hears her mother died on her birthday. Do I tell her- “we’re here for you”? Does that sound ok? Should I encourage her to cry if she doesn’t? And if she does, do I tell her to stop? And when? After a few minutes or hours or days? Please help me be relevant to her healing.
And when you’re done with all these? Please tell me how to feel. Show me. Teach me how to cry because I promise I’ve tried. I tried a few minutes ago in the bathroom. I shut my eyes tight and begged for them to flow. Doesn’t crying bring relief? Doesn’t this weight lift from the shoulders? I’d be disappointed if not, I’ve put so much effort into it.
Teach me. Show me. My gestures are going unnoticed. My food is going uneaten. I feel helpless and useless. Help me help us. Teach me.
I’m aware your answers might not help, but I’d like to know I tried.
Big Focus: This one is dedicated to everyone who’s ever lost someone.