There’s a common fallacy that everyone believes in. That bad stuff only happens to other people and never to them. Until that bad stuff strikes closer to home. I for the longest time had subscribed to that school of thought. Until I lost my two-year old son. That is when the reality that life is unfair dawns on you. You start to experience and see life using different lenses. It’s almost as if you’ve gone through this ritual and have come out a different person, only more hurt, and viewing life from a different angle. Funny how I have gotten to describing my life phases as: Pre-Sean & Post-Sean.
I had for a very long time postponed writing this piece because I was still learning how to go through life minus Sean. I am writing this so that anyone who is going through this stage of loss and grief can get to know that they are not alone, and that though am not their yet to finding closure, but that I can always find time to be there for them.
Grief and loss changes you. From the inside all the way to the outside. From that bubbly and talkative human being to being quiet, sullen and aloof. During the early days you might lose your sense of smell, taste, hearing, have blurry vision, appetite might decide to go to the dogs, and you might have partial amnesia heck or even behave like a retard! But all this is called for.
If the mourning phase isn’t handled properly, you might lose yourself as grief will swallow you whole, not literally though. The most painful part about it all is that you won’t not even notice that you’re slowly by slowly going to the shits!
My advice to you, mourn your lost ones well even if it means crying bucketfuls to fill an ocean, but don’t drown in it. Cry yourself sore. Do what you got to do to avoid falling into regression later on. That shit is no joke. It’s akin to going haywire. I would not advocate for escape-ism as a coping mechanism because there is no running away from loss.
Surround yourself with friends, family and people who try to feel your pain and help you get through it. People who make you feel that they understand what you’re going through even if they can’t relate. People who make you feel that you’re loved and cared for. People who make you feel that you’re not alone. People who let you have your space and do what you have to do but at the same time not letting go of your hand. What am trying to say here is have a strong support system because I wasn’t lucky to have one. Key word is strong.
Also, people are shitty, no cap. Once you understand this you will be able to get that that nonsense of “I/we are here for you in case you need a shoulder to lean on” and whatnot is pure balderdash. Total trash. Just formalities cause you know, it just had to be said.
Oh and PTSD and panic attacks (not everyone experiences this) will kick in like nobody’s business. Those are the moments you need to have your support system close to you. Hold yourself together. Don’t crumble under the weight of grief.
There will be nightmares, moments where you find yourself thinking of the memories you shared and even the fights/ bad days you had. You will cry. Please do so freely, it is part of the healing process. It goes without saying that time is the healer of even the deepest of wounds, I am not so sure about mine healing by passage of time. But I pray it does.
People will tell you things in a bid to help thinking they’re actually helping you but in real sense they’re only making it worse for you. They will say things like, “they’re in a better place”, “they’re dancing with the angels”, “legends never die”. My one question to people who say stuff like these. Where is that better place? How sure are you that they are in a better place? But it is just things that we console ourselves with that after we die we transition to a better place so that it becomes bearable for the bereaved to move forward. But for a flawed human being like me, a human being like me who has questions about God, about religion, about the existence of heaven and hell, who finds The Holy Book to have tons of loopholes.
If you can afford one, go on ahead and have yourself a therapist. This reminds me, S/o to my therapist Joe. Those people really know how to make you feel that loss is just another downhill in life and that moving forward is the best thing you can do to yourself.
You know that life mantra you’ve always lived by? Yes that one, remember it and live by it. Helps you get back when you’re almost forgetting who you are and what your purpose is. A friend recently reminded me this.
As earlier stated, one can’t move on from loss so you have to find ways to move forward with it.
One thing I have learnt from my son’s passing is that people do not give a shit about you so don’t live your life while relying on external validation so that you can be happy. It was barely two days since we laid him to rest but people were already acting as if it had been ages since he died. But life is for the living and the world didn’t for a moment stop orbiting its axis.
You will want the world to end on that day that you lose your dear one but it won’t. The sun will still rise from the East and go to bed in the West. The sun will in fact shine harshly on that day as if reminding you that you’re one in 7B people inhabiting this planet so why want that special treatment from the universe?
As if you haven’t had enough torture, you will even have suicidal thoughts but am here to remind you that God (or whichever Super Being you subscribe to) doesn’t give you something that He did not see you handling. That is what keeps me together!
My late son got to teach me lessons both when he was alive and even in death but I choose to share these three with you.
That kid lived in the moment, so should all of us. One day at a time. As young and tiny as he was, he already had a life mantra: Carpe Diem mfs!!
We don’t have much time. Heck we don’t even have any time so tell those ayayus to whoever needs to hear them, shoot your shots even if they’ll end up blank because what is the worst that can happen? Am sure it’s not death. Apply for that job even if you are feeling under qualified. Kiss that stranger. Go on that roadtrip. Couplings, you need to have yourselves a Bae-cation. Say sorry. Pee in that pool (just kidding).
Smile often. You wouldn’t miss a photo where he hadn’t gotten all his teeth out or most of it. To all those who interacted with him knew how jovial, bubbly and cheerful he was. He had a therapeutic laugh and an infectious smile. He sure loved life but sadly it didn’t love him back.
I won’t lie that am still dealing with my shit amongst tons of other shits but heck, am only human. I still can’t sleep with the lights off or alone in a room. I still can’t listen to his songs without picturing him busting killer moves or hearing his voice singing along. I still get my phone out to show random strangers photos of my son. Talking myself hoarse to whoever cares to listen about how unfair it was that he got almost everything from his father. From his tiny beautiful eyes, his bottle-top nose to his walking style. I still get teary when around baby boys. So am sorry not sorry if I can’t attend those kids birthday parties or hang out where there are kids. I know I will always see a child and try to imagine how tall he would have been or how cuter he would have grown. I used to refer to him as The Tokodi of his times. He was already turning heads at 2! Cute as a button? An understatement I say. Every 7th of September I’ll be eating a cupcake to celebrate his would-have-been birthday and imagine how he would have turned out.
I wished you had grown taller to understand the meaning of life or that coffee tasted better when you are in love kiddo. Wish you had stayed to ride in those cars that you drew.
But for the moment that you were around, you reminded me of who I was and taught me to a better human being to myself. You taught me never to sell myself short. You taught me to be a better mother to you, a better daughter, girlfriend, sibling and friend.
Cheers to the boy who gave me the title Mother! To the baby that was!
My only plea: It’s not that we are being needy and shit just because we ask you to understand us during such times. Grief shared is grief half dealt with. Let’s learn to hold our family/friends’ hands and not just provide shoulders to be leaned on.
Yes we will all die someday but I hold on to the thought that even death itself will meet its end someday!
But before that, y’all need to get this: Life sucks. Everybody dies. Nothing is fair. And the oceans are full of garbage.
Back to you in studio.