Guest, Stories, The Single Story

The Single Story: Tell Me.

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.

18 thoughts on “The Single Story: Tell Me.”

  1. People handle loss differently… Some need to be left alone, some cry their eyes out. Your efforts arent goin unnoticed dear. Your family members are just too sad, too blue to show you how much they appreciate it. Sorry for your loss..


  2. People handle loss differently… Some need to be left alone, some cry their eyes out. Your efforts arent goin unnoticed dear. Your family members are just too sad, too blue to show you how much they appreciate it. My condolences…


  3. Last September I lost my cousin, (she would’ve been 26 11 days ago). This August we lost her dad. Thank you 4 putting into words all the thoughts that have gone through my head in the last year…& sometimes still do. If I’m honest I still haven’t totally made my peace wth God over this…but I’m sure we’ll get there. Eventually. Maybe.


  4. i lost my aunt as well this year in may. it hasnt been a good year, the worst actually. Thankful for those i have left. somebody lied, it doesnt get easier. you’re doing the right things dear, God be with you. My condolences…


  5. I lost my cousin in 2003. He was 18 years old. Alpha beach had very string waves.

    I lost my uncle and aunt in the space of one and a half months this year. He died of cancer and I guess she died of a broken heart. When I heard he died I drove to the crib and saw her shaking and crying. The sight alone scared me. I remembered how funny he was, and I broke down, crying and holding my aunt. We cried together.

    Grieving comes naturally when you remember how close and how much you loved the person. People grieve differently. Telling a loved one not to cry won’t help, but you can hold, you can wipe the tears, you can cry. Share the pain.

    Sorry about your loss.


  6. I can so relate with this post. .lost two people already btw oct-nov
    And couple of others close to me. .
    I did not and still don’t know how to react
    I duno what to say, how to say or even if I should say something

    I’m not one who knows how to react to death related issues. . .
    I didn’t even know if I should cry. .
    This is quite sad for me especially because I’m an extremely emotional person

    It is well. . .


  7. Sad stuff…very touching… No one knows how to act when the reaper comes calling, but one thing I know, there’s a time for mourning. So, cry, if you want to, if your cousin, mum and grandma want to, let them. If they want to sit in silence, let them. Comfort them in any way your spirit leads you to. And may God strengthen you all. (((Hugs)))


  8. I’ve been here more times than I care to remember.

    In dealing with death, as in dealing with life, I find that there are no rules. All we can do is our best.

    Time, like experience, will help but in the end, we cant do more than be human. Show as much care as you feel. be strong when you need to, weak when you cannot… cry if the tears come, don’t if they don’t.

    Just be.

    This raw period will pass.


  9. I don’t really know what to say about grief, except that people handle it differently. The story shows that perfectly, and it’s a beautiful piece except that it’s so sad.


  10. I’ve made my peace with Death.

    I’ve lost so many people, starting with my own mother when I was 11, that I’m now very much at peace with the idea of death. I can’t really remember the last time I grieved anyone, not just in tears, but even in my heart. I’m not sure I even know how to anymore. It has come to feel like death is just another part of life… which, in actual fact, it is.

    I have made my peace with death.


  11. Sweet Jesus! Is this real? :( Im sorry to hear that. A friend of mine lost his gud friend last nyt. They were in the car 2getha wen it crashed. I didnt know wat to say to him. :( Felt like an ass.


  12. I lost my grandfather last year. He died on my sister’s birthday, two days after mine. My mother was his ‘enfant cherie’, his darling. Seeing her cry broke my heart, but I couldn’t cry, because I felt somebody needed to be able to see. I just let her hold me while she cried, and I think it helped.


  13. Pingback: Mm. | darkBetty

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