Bent But Not Broken: Compensating For A Loss

When I was told that my mum passed away, my head felt like it was going through a rollercoaster of emotions. My heart sank that day and a part of me felt that life, as I knew it, was truly over. “I will never smile or be happy again” I mournfully said to myself a couple hours after the news had hit me. The thought and realising that I may end up in a perpetual state of mourning for the rest of my life scared me. In hindsight this was simply the bereavement talking and truly getting the best of me. I began to envisage a myriad of happy moments that can take place in my life that will surely help me get over this loss: marriage, nice house, new car, etc. Once I experience all of this I will be happy again and my sanity will be restored. Yet again hindsight has turned out to be a beautiful thing as this feeling was nothing other than a false belief. Associating true happiness with an idea or an object to compensate for bereavement is simply a recipe for disaster. The truth is, as I’ve come to realise, nothing or anybody can change what I’m going through. A part of me will always be empty and, as weird as it sounds, it’s oaky knowing that this emptiness can never be filled.


Two days ago made it three months since the Duchess – which is a nickname my mum gave herself – passed away. Feelings of sadness resurfaced, as expected, and emotions ran high as I began to reflect on her life, and admire the courage she had to live it to the fullest. ‘Days like this are normal and are part of the grieving process’  I said to myself, ‘Everyday can’t be a happy day and a loss of a loved one is not something that can be compensated for’ I continuously said in my head time after time.

Three months on, I’m mentally stronger,smarter and wiser, hindsight is a beautiful thing. If I hadn’t allowed myself to process things and naturally grieve then I wouldn’t have peace of mind or even be able to remain sane. I’ve come to realise that when you are dealing with a loss of a loved one the best thing to do is allow yourself to mourn in whatever way you see fit. That is exactly what I – and still doing to this very day – did, I’ve learnt to take one day at a time and let feelings flow naturally. One day I may be really down and just want cocoon myself from the world and another day I feel motivated and inspired to take on the world and make my mum proud. This is how life goes when you’ve loved and lost someone dear to you, it’s a feeling that you can’t stop or control (to an extent). I can’t bring my mum back to this world – as much as I would like to – but it’s life and I have to deal with it. She is gone but her wisdom and attitude towards life lives on and most of all it lives through me.

‘I will never smile or be happy again’ an emotional me, that felt that there was nothing else to look forward to in life, once said. In retrospect I couldn’t disagree more, as I have plenty to look forward to. Writing this article has been a self realisation that I am able to coureagously move on. Three months ago I wouldn’t have been able to string a sentence together about my ordeal, but today I can compose a whole article let alone a sentence. To me this progress and progress is always a good thing to smile about.

The time will come when I celebrate many more milestones (marriage, children, first home,dream job/car) and I believe that I will be able to celebrate them – in whichever order they come – because I have learnt to be happy in this present moment. There is no such thing as compensating for a loss of a loved one. As I have stressed constantly, you simply can’t replace or fully get over that loss. So rather than thinking I am going to be better and feel more happy again when  I finally get, that new car, engaged or decide to start a family, I have realised that these things will not change what has happened. Instead I have learnt to be happy where I’m – in life – at now and come to understand that I’m in charge of my own happiness. Nothing will change my experience and I’ve accepted that attaching happiness to objects or a destination will also not change my experience.







Bent But Not Broken: Dealing with Bereavement from an early age

The strongest people are those that have been given tests in life and have no other option but to be strong

The strongest people in life are those who have been given challenging tests and have no other option but to be strong in order to get through them. As a result of this strong mindset they learn how to deal with life changing events when they occur. I can tell you now that I am a testament to that and I have to say I never thought I would be one of those people who are forced to be strong or most all have to deal with life changing situations.

Last year I lost my Father and it hit me hard but with time I learnt to deal with the pain and after a while I felt that it subsided. When I was told the news my mind was not in shock but more at rest knowing that he was now in a better place but that didn’t stop me from crying uncontrollably. That morning after my aunts and uncle dropped the news I rushed to my room to be alone with  my thoughts. I paused for a moment and stared deep into my mirror feeling really dazed and confused then the tears started flowing down my cheeks uncontrollably. At the back of my head I felt that this day would always come, due to the years of suffering and pain he was in, but I always had a sense of hope that he would get better and I hanged on to that for so many years. Needless to say this loss hurt me badly and I went through a phase of feeling crap about myself and life in general. I began to doubt and worried about how I would get through the days ahead. Eventually I got back on track and started feeling good and optimistic about my life again.

However things were about to change without me even realising it and I thought my experience of dealing with bereavement was over. On Friday the 30th of October 2015, pain and suffering came knocking again. This time it was the loss of my mother that struck me, which by no means was an easy thing to deal and come to terms with, even now as I write this I still haven’t fully accepted that she is no longer with me. I had been given another blow but much harder this time. I was so baffled when the news came in as we (my sister and aunt) all felt that she would pull through as she did last time she was in the same situation.

My Mother suffered from Sickle Cell Anaemia, for those who are not aware it is a rare blood disorder, so throughout her life she has had to take a lot of medication and have regular visits to the hospital. After a while there is only so much your body can take when you’ve been taking medication throughout your entire life. As we get older, illness or not, our body starts to wear down. This was the case for my mother who had travelled and loved to see the world, at 52 her body was in a state where it couldn’t handle anymore medication or exhaustion. On her first trip to Nigeria this year in April she was ill and her blood level was lower than normal. She was taken to hospital where doctors were working round the clock trying to help her and thankfully they gave her a blood transfusion. My aunt, sister and myself  back in London were so worried but when told that she was okay now and would be able to fly back home we were very relieved. When she arrived back in london we urged her to take things easy and relax so we wouldn’t have to go through another scare like that again.

As the months flew by I felt so happy that my mother went through that experience and had come out on top. It allowed me to realise that she was such a fighter and wouldn’t let anything stop her from enjoying life. When she travelled in October, for the second time this year, to Nigeria I was so worried and even asked her angrily and as a son who was worried about his mother: “Why are you travelling there again?”. I didn’t get many answers that were satisfactory enough but deep down inside I knew I couldn’t stop her from doing what she wanted to do. Then a couple weeks into her trip we had received news from family in Nigeria that she had fell ill again and needed urgent medical attention. At this moment I was not worried at all as I felt, and so did my sister and aunt, that she pulled through this situation before so she can surely do it again.

I kept calling family members back there trying to get news on her current state and I kept being told that she is poorly but there were signs that she would be okay. So on that night I felt a bit at ease. However this feeling changed as we received news the next morning that she had taken a turn for the worse and doctors were scrambling around to do the best they can to give her the help she needed. On that same morning I remember getting dressed for work but I decided to stay at home so I could be well informed on her condition. We waited and waited and I kept thinking she will pull through again and certain of it too. All that changed when my aunt, who came to my house to keep an eye on me and my sister, received a phone call. Before she said a word I started crying and my heart felt like it had dropped, the look in her eyes and the silence that surrounded the room told me that my mother was gone. I started crying, screaming and punching the walls asking God; “Why” …. “Why are you doing this to me?”. At that very moment I felt like I was going to die and was in so much disbelief at the same time. A part of me was hoping that the call was a mistake and they had got the news all wrong.

I continued to cry for hours and hours and I felt that my life could not continue from that moment on. I was worried,scared and my mind was in overdrive. That night of the day we were hit with the news I cried myself to sleep like a baby. A  grown 25 year old like me had to cry himself to sleep. How sad I thought to myself.Then after the news people started coming to my house to pay their respects and offer condolences, which is normal I guess but after a while I wanted to be left alone and just have my own space to be at one with my thoughts.

The day the news about my mother came in will always be remembered as  Black Friday and one that I will never forget. As I am writing this my heart is heavy and I miss my mother so much. I never would have ever imagined losing both my parents at the age of 25. It hurts and it hurts more as the days go by, but whether this happened 25 years from now the pain would still be just as bad. I have had negative thoughts thinking that my life is over and I will never be happy again. As 2015 is coming to an end, the year has made me realise, as cliche as it is, life is too short but even shorter when you spend it not doing what you enjoy with the people who mean the most to you.

My Mother  is gone and no matter how much I dream about her returning she isn’t coming back. Knowing that makes me so sad but it is all about choice; I have a choice to be sad and allow myself to be depressed or  I can get on with things and make my mother proud. I chose to go with the latter because it is better to be motivated by bereavement rather than consumed by it.  I personally feel that my mother lived a wonderful life and most of all left behind a fantastic legacy. There is no way I am going to allow that to be ruined by negativity and darkness instead as her son I am going to honour her legacy and continue to be the man she raised.

There is no easy way to deal with death especially as a man, child and young adult like myself. The only way to get through it is to find something that keeps you going and allows you to stay motivated about life. This can be anything from a craft, memory or even the person. My mother is my motivation in everything I do, now more than ever, and for that very reason I will achieve the things I set out to achieve. It is easier said than done because when you lose someone the pain never really disappears and there may be things that reminds you of that person. You have to remember that it is okay to cry now and then and feel sad but never lose faith or your belief that things will get easier. Things will get easier depending on what you allow yourself to think day in day out.

I chose to remember the lovely memories I had with my mother and I also chose to use my mother’s death as a blueprint for my own life. She lived a wonderful life and was good to people in so many ways, as a result I want to live my life in a similar way and emulate that good spirit she had. It is the idea of this that keeps me going, positive and allows my mind to be sane. The loss of both parents a year after each other has affected me but I have been bent and not broken.