10 Things Not To Say To A Grieving Mum

Before I began this journey over three years ago, I was clueless of what to say to someone who was dealing with a loved one’s hearing loss. Honestly, I had zero idea. If I had met any, I would have said everything wrong unintentionally.

My life was relatively a content, happy and quiet one. Then October 22, 2013 happened.The gloom that enveloped my family was huge. I would never forget that night- the devastating news had robbed sleep away from my husband and I… and so it was for weeks. Words fail me to describe the deep, cataclysmic hollow we were stuck in for many months.

Hate.

Uncertainty.

Fear.

Pain.

Denial.

Anger.

God, why? Why Tasie? Why us?

It’s tough being around one who is grieving. It is a very sensitive environment to find oneself. Anything one says could be misconstrued for a lifetime even if it came from a good place to the mourner.

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3 Ways To Survive As A Lone and Distant Valentine

Dear Lone and Distant Valentine,

This day is actually dedicated to the memory of St. Valentine, making it an occasion when people all over the globe celebrate love, affection and friendship. That time of the year again when people, even in long distance relationships treat their loved ones with a ‘special’ kind of love. The buzz and tangible excitement is everywhere-on TV, radio, social media, magazines, you name it. Today calls for spending time with your significant other, but being a lone and distant valentine is perhaps what you dread on a day like this one. Spending Valentine’s Day without your spouse can be hard, especially for the first time.

I am told by experts that you could have a fabulous time away from your significant other on this day . . . Errrr . . . I’m not so sure about that and honestly, I doubt that I could because the only time I experienced it, I did not. Tell me, who would wake up excited to be in a foreign land without her husband on Valentine’s day? Definitely, not me!

So how does one survive Valentine’s Day in a long-distance relationship?  (more…)

Consider Vetting Your List of Friends

Today is a good day to start- a day Facebook celebrates friendship.

Friendship is being there for each other. It is a voluntary relationship-you choose to get in and choose when to get out- which makes it subject to life’s impulses. Significant life changing events like starting a marriage or ending one, a job loss or promotion, a terminal illness or disability, pregnancy, financial windfall, death of a loved one, relocation and a host of others are great moments to test the quality and endurance of friendships.

There’s a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people really don’t become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide.- Maya Angelou

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Let’s Talk About Depression

September 2014- Cape Town, South Africa

For the first time, I will confess that I was in a state of depression although, I vehemently denied it each time its glaring symptoms were acknowledged by the psychologist (I had to visit her on two or three occasions). As a Certified Change Management Practitioner, I was not managing this change process rightly. I was submerged in three events concurrently that met me mentally unprepared and unequipped in the space of a month;

  1. My son’s deafness.
  2. My relocation from Nigeria to Cape Town leaving my husband and a support system behind.
  3. My resignation from a job I enjoyed.

Here I was in a situation I never signed up for, not in my wildest dreams. The carelessness of the Nigerian health system had dumped me in this and I wasn’t coping at all with my coping mechanisms. I was overwhelmed by transitions going on in my not so perfect world. Could someone turn everything around? Switch on the damn lights and take away this darkness from me!

On the Change Curve, I was in between stage 1 and Stage 2. A bit of denial and shock- yes, my son was deaf, so they said. And then? Someone was wasting time to pinch me out of this. It wasn’t completely my reality. The reality of the change had only started to hit me by February 2015. I was full of anger, resentment, suspicion, frustration, skepticism and fears.

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It took me almost 2 years to move from Stage 1 to Stage 3.  That was a quick one… lol. Applaudissez!

Slowly, depression came knocking. Depression is real. No one sits down preparing  to fall into a state of depression (I think). It just happens. It was a constant fight not to be drawn into a perpetual state of depression. Isolation, remoteness and apathy set in. I could feel them envelope me like gross darkness. My morale was low; self-doubt and anxiety levels were at their peak. I lost interest in make-up or fashion. Nothing mattered to me but getting out of this daunting cage. I shopped food a lot and ate very well. I went off social media. Deleted my BBM and twitter accounts. Deactivated my Facebook page. I warned my husband not to share my SA contact number with anyone without my permission. I didn’t want to be in touch with everybody, yet I wanted to be cared for by everybody. I managed to drag myself out of bed each day because of Tasie. Don’t know how. But, somehow, I did!

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Strong women are not born. They are fashioned by life’s experiences.

I waited and waited in my lonely world for that phone call from those specific friends and family that I had placed a certain relevance to. They had forgotten me in my predicament.I didn’t think I was getting the support I craved from them which broke me further.  I heard one of the demons in my head say, “Test and see if they care. I can assure you that no one cares.” Days turned to weeks and weeks to months. Everyone else was caught up in their own world. I was a pack of frustration. I would yell and bang my fists in the air. My pillow was a waterfall of tears at night. I had lost count of how many times my daughter had caught me crying. I was alone wrestling my demons and doing so all alone. My smiles were a façade. Underneath them was a wasted, moving ghost- me. I had lost track with calendar dates and time. Friends who had babies that had clocked two years old before my relocation, I kept asking if they were up to a year old at the time.

There were good days and many bad days. I wanted to die on some days. Anything to take me away from this precarious situation. I longed to smoke pot to wipe away this scene of my life forever (or so I thought). But I wasn’t a smoker and I didn’t have the guts to try any or hunt for it on the dark streets. I was in my most vulnerable state. I barked if it seemed like my vulnerability was being taken advantage of. I had bottled up so much for about nine months and had zero time to mourn my circumstance. For this long, I had been this strong woman for everyone but myself. Forgetting to look after me and stay mentally fit.

Alas, May 2015- there was a turning point. I wailed uncontrollably in a Parent Support Program and poured out my heart in rhetorics:

‘No one understands my constant battles and fears. They said they did. I said,” Don’t you dare say so. You can never understand because you don’t wear the shoes. I am the wearer and I know exactly where and how they pinch.” I needed some empathy but empathy with the right words, no pity-partying or patronizing.’

After that meeting, I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit. He took off all the burden and I became light and free. I consciously began to take the corner to Stage 3- Acceptance. I stopped focusing on the loss (my son’s hearing, the job and support system in Nigeria). A little enthusiasm, trust, hope and optimism had begun to sip in. My depression lasted all through September 2014 till June 2015. Phew!

M

P.S

You can read more on The Change Curve

Is Fundraising a Glorified Style of Begging?

Thinking aloud- Have you ever been desperate to save an unimaginable emergency situation that solely depended on your next move? Would you be willing to do anything and everything to follow through? Time was running against us. . .

April 2014

The Tygerberg Hospital Cochlear Implant Team, Cape Town had said Tasie was an eligible candidate for a cochlear implant surgery, which had to happen before he turned three in August. Also, a pre-requisite adenoids surgery was slated for June. We were under immense pressure with little or no time in front of us to return to Capetown in June. And the bills? A whooping total sum of $61,000 for the cochlear implant devices and surgery (exclusive of adenoids surgery, living, transportation  and rehabilitation expenses).  We were just salary earners who sustained comfortable living standards. So, tell me-where was such an arm and leg supposed to fall from? Therefore, we put up all sellable belongings of ours-from cars to property. You name it. But hey, the monetary value was only a drop of water in an ocean. We hadn’t gone anywhere with our financial goal.

Finally, it hit us. This was it-Fundraising! We had to beg absolute strangers for money.

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Excerpts of a letter from me -an angry, let-down mom, to a potential donor. Don’t judge me!

Honestly, there is an indescribable form of humiliation that comes with ‘begging’ strangers. It is incomprehensible until you wear the exact shoes. From writing fundraising letters, hopping to various offices to dispatch them, sending random messages to celebrities on social media, googling and ringing up dead phone numbers of charity organisations, telling any and everyone who cared to listen, after all said and done, waiting with a glimmer of hope for that phone call or email. Then deadly silence greets you. It can kill you!

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God will always raise destiny helpers in that disappointment.

Have you ever been in a situation where the authenticity of your integrity, existence, character, personality, composition, pedigree, calibre  and the entirety of you is being interrogated and scrutinized by a complete stranger? A lot of disappointments here and there-Not forgetting the empty promises, being ignored, the constant follow-up reminders made me feel like a pest, the liars- those who gave us hope when indeed they had nothing to offer from the on-start (it was like chasing a contract in a government parastatal you were unqualified for). Oh! Also, you  had to have some form of connection to get help. A somewhat referral, perhaps like a shortee who could vouch for your character and sell your concerns to the donor.

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If you are not led to help a person in need, never lead that person on. It’s callous to do so.

There were a few good  and well-meaning Nigerians out there, who readily took the risk to help us, notwithstanding if we were fraudsters. God bless your gracious hearts. It is understandable that bad people have spoiled chances for good ones like us, hence the numerous measures philanthropists often take to guard themselves from vulnerability. We were blessed with loving family and friends who went all out to contribute to this cause. It is said in an Igbo proverb-“Onye nwe nmadu ka onye nwe ego” (He who has people is greater than he who has money) and this played out for us. Thank you precious ones.

Officially, I bagged a PHD in Glorified Begging. God taught me patience and humility. Though, it is a training I’ve prayed never to relive. But, make no mistakes, it was worth going every inch of that mile for our dearest Tasie and as parents, we have no regrets at all!

 

M