This post is way long overdue; it’s taken me an year+ to consider putting it up or not. I have written and rewritten it but anyway here it goes.
The Easter season normally coincides with my Amani’s anniversary. Last year we were marking her 3rd anniversary. From my post on LESSONS LEARNT, I indicated it is important to find ways to express your loss and honor the child you carry in your heart.
Easter for the past two years has been the hardest season for me; it is a raw reminder of when I lost Amani, the first fruit of my womb. She grew wing on the 18th April 2014 which was a Good Friday. Of course that day I was in shock and didn’t believe it. Being a christian who believes that faith even as little as that of a mustard seed can move mountains, I prayed for her to rise with Jesus. I even mentioned this to one of the family members and they thought I was really crazy. Sadly the burial was organized the next day. All this happened too fast… like in the movies. One day I had my daughter the next day she was no more. Sunday is when the reality really hit me; I will never have her back in my arms.
So I loathed Easter. While people were attending evenings of worship and singing for joy that Christ died for our sins, I never even had the courage to speak; there was no joy in my heart. This year as I’m maturing in my grief journey, I’ve learnt to celebrate my baby, I relive every minute of the 16 days I spent with her and celebrating her life is now what we will be doing as a family henceforth in different ways every year. (“We” here refers to my husband, son and I).
November of 2016 is when I found out my baby’s grave site never existed anymore. I’d gone to place flowers and I just couldn’t locate the site. I asked one of the guys there and he told me 2014 was such a long time and those graves if they were temporary it was hard to find them. Of course all this he said bluntly in Swahili, words which pierce the heart. This reality really took long for it to just sink in and when I went back 16 months later is now when this really sank in. This was my new reality.
I‘d promised on my facebook post to write something on how Amani was laid to rest on the temporary section; I’ll just integrate it on this post. Princess was buried the next Saturday morning after her death on Friday night. I remember that Good Friday night vividly, I don’t know how people got to know about the loss, our house was full of people. They’d come to show their support and condole with us. Something we are really grateful for.
We were asked where we wanted to bury Princess and my husband allowed me to answer for us. “I’d rather not bury her the normal way, cremation would work for us”, I replied. The uproar I heard afterwards was even deafening… “oooh you know we are Africans, we don’t do that!… “oooh why would you want to even burn her body?…” “We are not Indians”, others were murmuring to themselves. So they asked for another option and I said she can then be buried on our piece of land. Guess what followed… “That place is far…” “You know a baby’s body shouldn’t stay for long…” and many other reasons I can’t even write here. So I left for the bedroom and they made the decision for us. All this time my husband was numb, I mean it was just hard to believe all this was happening.
When I found the grave missing is when I felt robbed. We were literally robbed of the opportunity to decide our baby’s final resting place, I felt robbed of that space I can go pour my grief without being judged, my sacred space. I was angry, I was broken, I was confused, I felt cheated and I even hated the people who organized that burial. I know now you are thinking “how ungrateful can she be…?” Quite the contrary, I’m truly grateful to every person who stood with us during this difficult period. We couldn’t have done it on our own. What I’m trying to bring out here is the fact that we were left out in the decision making involving our daughter’s burial. That was actually the last moment we would have had to ‘parent’ her,you know… Should you find yourself in such a position when supporting a bereaved parent, please involve them in the decision making, pleeaaase…thanks!
Back to Easter, last year on Sat 15th April 2017, we marked Amani’s 3rd anniversary and celebrated Easter with children at the Angel Centre for Abandoned Children in Dagoretti. Two of my cousins joined us and we had a great time with the little ones.
Three years ago, I couldn’t figure myself visiting a Childrens’ home; the thought alone was always a bad trigger. Now that the space to actually grieve was no more, our grief took another shape and we decided to honor Amani’s memory by sharing with other children. This turned out way amazing and fulfilling.
The moment I spent with the children was the most tranquil moment I’ve ever experienced. I enjoyed feeding the young ones and playing with the older children. These children have so much love and their innocence is adorable. The cake cutting moment was amazing. Thank you Maggie of Favored Cakes for donating the cake. Let me also thank all those who sent me their donations to deliver, they were well received.
The true meaning of Easter came alive for me in last year’s season. Good Friday evening was Easter Worship Experience at church, Saturday was spent with cheerful children, Sunday was church and family day and Monday was spent scrapbooking. That was an amazing Easter full of love that I can’t even explain in words. This was a new chapter in my life and I embraced it wholeheartedly.
If you are looking to visit a children’s home, I recommend Angel Centre. Your experience there will be an amazing one. Even as you visit with them and bless them with the gifts you have, you will also learn a lot from the children.
Writing notes to my girl has been really helpful in my grief journey. Let me share with you a piece I wrote for her last Easter…
Time really goes by too fast my dear; it has been 3 years already! They were the hardest years I’ve been through. Living without you by side is not easy; I will forever hold you in my heart my cutie pie. Early this year your little brother checked in on earth. He was the cutest baby and reminded me of you. He looked just like you when you were a day old. Daddy said it’s because you are siblings. He won’t get to play with you but I know you will be watching over him, daddy and me. Past two years were full of regrets and blame. Little did we know how lucky we were to have an angel in heaven! Daddy and I have experienced deep grief and pain but we’ve also come to know unending love! So today we celebrate your life by sharing with other children. Sharing with others henceforth will be our way of honoring your memory. Though your time on earth was short, you still live on in our hearts. Continue dancing with the angels my girl. Till we meet again, I’ll forever treasure the time I had with you.
Signed with love,
This year’s Easter season is earlier starting 30 March 2018. I don’t know yet what we gonna do for her anniversary. There’s something exciting though… I had the privilege to get an invite for #SheilaLivesOutLoud show hosted by the all adorable Sheila Mwanyiga. The interview was sometime back but it is airing this season. I didn’t expect that really. It’s very significant to me. What a way to remember her and inspire hope to another grieving parent out there.
Watch the first part of the interview here and part two here. Share within your networks for that parent who thinks he/she is alone for them to hold on to hope.
If you are going through loss, life may not even make sense right now. Don’t drown alone. Look for a community of people going through the same and journey together. And like Dr. Alan Wolfelt says 👇
Empower Mama Foundation has such a platform. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s also an upcoming workshop on 21St April 2018 at the Nuru Palace Hotel in Nakuru on How to Effectively support a bereaved parent. This workshop is open for everyone and not for bereaved parents only. Come and learn how to be that caring friend/relative/colleague and get tips on what to say/not say and do/not do and to recognize when more help and support is need. Let’s change the narrative surrounding perinatal and child loss and be that caring, empowered society.
Sign up by 13th April 2018 as the slots are limited. More details here.