The freshly bereaved – how I dealt/do’s and don’ts (PART 1)

To read all posts in this series, click HERE.

I say ‘freshly’ because I’ll write other posts about the different stages I went through and how I responded and the stages I am going through now and how I am responding (you are going on this journey with me!). The Bible teaches not to grieve as the world does because we have a greater hope knowing our loved one is in heaven but what I discovered is as with most life changing occurrences, you really do not know what this means until you are experiencing it – You cannot do it without the help of the Holy Spirit as your feelings and emotions will always try to take over. I know Dapo is in heaven with Jesus but I miss him so much. I find that people do not really know what to say or how to act around the bereaved. It is such an emotional time. I’d like to discuss some common things people tend to say/do and how these things made me feel during the first few week after Dapo’s death. Let me quickly apologise for my personal opinions and emotions (I actually felt differently after some weeks) – Not every freshly bereaved person may feel this way. I’ll list out and discuss in a do’s and don’ts manner:

IT IS WELL
Somehow and I truly will like to research into how this started and caught on like a virus the phrase ‘IT IS WELL’ has become the full stop, medication, golden elixir, solution, miracle balm and answer to a lot of life’s questions in Nigerian Christianese (Christian Language). Sadly, it happened to really frustrate me during those first few weeks because to me IT WAS NOT WELL! So why was everyone saying it was!!! Were they in denial? Were they trying to be funny? I did not understand it (I later did and now think of it like a prayer).

To the comforter – I will like to humbly suggest that if you are visiting a freshly bereaved person and you must use this phrase please please keep it minimal – trust me, they heard you the first 150 times! You DO NOT need to say it over and over again and most definitely not with that morbid deep sigh, worried expression and placement of your palm under your chin gesture that usually follows. At the time it made me feel like I was on the path to intense suffering and the person who said it was bidding me farewell (sorry, I really can’t explain the emotions I felt at the time)

To the freshly bereaved– Please see this phrase as a prayer. People usually do not know what to say or how to behave around a freshly bereaved person. Some cultures and societies believe that you must act a certain way so people do so without actually thinking about how their words and actions affect others. Please do not blame people. Try to be accommodating, I know it is a lot to ask of a freshly bereaved person but try to talk to the Holy Spirit in your heart (if you can because you may dislike him so much right now for taking away your loved one), sing a song in your head ……whatever you need to get through the particular situation. I am so sorry you’re going though so much pain! The phrase is actually quite comforting when you think about it as a prayer but I guess it is just overused. What it is supposed to do is let you see that even though things are falling apart because you are God’s own all things will definitely fall into place. I had to Google the phrase and hymn to discover why the original writer had said ‘It is well with my soul’ Please research it when you get a chance.

GOD KNOWS BEST
This is the sister partner of number one above and usually comes immediately after and in some occasions, before. This also made me quite frustrated because I did not understand why people were stating the obvious were they trying to tell me God was a bully who did not care about my feelings just that ‘he knew best!’. Well No! God is definitely not a bully and he does care about you (I have deliberately not used the word ‘feelings’ again but I will discuss in my note to the bereaved below)

To the comforter – Please also try to keep usage of this phrase minimal. I started counting the number of times it was said to me (as a coping strategy so as not to scream) and based on the number I actually got scared because it made me wonder if there was another meaning. Did they know that my life was going to turn out bad and were trying to prepare me? Was God going to allow more havoc to be wrecked in my life? It made me feel totally and utterly helpless and alone in the midst of the crowd.

To the freshly bereaved – At the time the phrase brought me zero comfort but later I began to understand it simply meant he knew what he was doing. He made the universe didn’t he? It is indeed a helpless feeling I will tell you the truth but I found rest in that state. If you are a bit of a control principled freak like I was then it may do your head in to know that you truly do not have control until you let go of it. I found peace knowing that the greatest person in the universe knew what he was doing in my situation. Let me stretch this a bit further as well – you know how we often say ‘God is good’ it really doesn’t sink in that GOD IS GOOD! It’s not that he does good things………he is the word GOOD itself! Anything he does, makes, allows to happen etc. is GOOD! It sometimes appears like God is just folding his arms right but the Bible tells us that his ears are not deaf to hear and his arms are not too short to save. If he believes it is the best thing to do, he will and he loves you just the same in any situation.

Don’t use your brain to figure it out…….ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you like I did in September 2016. My words to God were very harsh. At that point I did not care any longer) I don’t think there were any tears left to cry. I had cried and cried and as we say in Nigeria – cried blood (since there is no water left!) Dapo was suffering! The kind of suffering that is brain numbing, I couldn’t bear to look. Why would a God who said He loved us allow us to suffer so much? Couldn’t He see how much pain Dapo was in? What more did He want from the poor man?

He couldn’t eat, couldn’t sit, couldn’t lie down, couldn’t talk, couldn’t breathe properly, couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything! He had prayed, fasted, begged, pleaded, cried, deprived himself of things, and had faith a zillion times bigger than a mustard seed! A man with such vigour and promise reduced to this bag of bones! Why were you so wicked God? and you went around claiming to be good! I screamed at God and lashed out that He was a pretender and He was just so wicked! I thought about the horrors Jesus went through and got angrier thinking about how cruel God was that he could allow his son go through that. I am a mother and I know how I feel when my children need to take an injection or even have a little scratch. It’s often unbearable so how could God do that to Jesus…….to himself?

I was also angry that the Holy Spirit had not been responding to my questions and accusations. What sort of friend was He? He couldn’t handle difficult conversations because He cowered away in hiding anytime I told him the truth about how I felt. I hated Christians, I hated Christianity, and everything in the Bible was hogwash because they were not true to me anymore. I had done everything I was supposed to do, I had been ‘good’ all my life, Dapo had been good and lived a holy life, sacred unto the Lord so why were we being punished? We had stood firm in our faith these past 4 years of pain. I cried and cried and then begged God for forgiveness. I was deeply hurt.

One of the questions people had asked me over the years and one of the stages people mention for Grief is the Anger stage. I actually was not angry, I was just deeply hurt, like a little pet who had suddenly been thrown away by its owner. I needed to understand why he was being so mean to us. What did we do wrong? Where had we gone wrong? Every Pastor and intercessor who prayed with us had declared healing. Dapo himself saw and proclaimed his healing. Were we all in denial?

I slept off after hours of crying and was later gently woken up by the whispers of the Holy Spirit (H.S). He quietly asked me child, define good and bad’ I was upset because I sort of knew where he was headed, I had heard this sermon before but I obliged him with a textbook answer of what good and bad were. Then he asked again ‘what do you think good and bad mean to me’ I gave him the same answer I had given the first time. Then he said ‘therein lies the problem, I do not think the way you do, I do not see the way you do. You see in tiny fragmented parts interpreted by your emotions and feelings I see a full clear picture – Everything is connected, it is a tapestry, a process, there are no isolated events’ (I will talk more about this conversation with H.S in my post on healing).

27 thoughts on “The freshly bereaved – how I dealt/do’s and don’ts (PART 1)

  1. Toritseju mi!!! This is just wonderful! I came here immediately i got your broadcast on bbm (i don’t know why), but THIS is everything!!! I platform for healing and learning for us all. May God bless your wisdom and make you stronger day by day. Love you , Mama xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dapo, nwanne’m nwoke, I miss you. My heart is still heavy, my eyes wet. I pray we meet again if I make heaven cos I know that’s where you are. Zuoike na udo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing prepares u for marriage itself not to talk of in sickness. We all pray for his grace.
    God will continue to comfort u and d holy spirit will direct u ijmn.Amen. Take care my dear Toju.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Honestly Big sis, I appreciate d kind of woman u ar, even during d thin nd thick, u were still strong nd prayerful, may holy spirit neva depart frm u nd ur children. Uncle Dapo, RIP ur legacy lives on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Deep and very true. I am keen to continue this reading and your conversations with H.S. It helps us put the whole essence of everything like every single thing into context – in the good and in the bad.
    May H.S give you the write words to speak with wisdom as you bring these revelations and insights up to another level blessing others.
    I so miss Dapsydoodoo……

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As I said to you Toju, I smile every time I see you…proud, relieved, excited, happy about where you are and how you’re holding up, at your strength, peace and continued faith.

    How wonderful to think of others and use your experience to try to make theirs better. Only a caring heart would think of others in their darkest moments.

    Dapo would be super proud of you.

    May God continue to comfort, heal and strengthen you. And may He bless this new ministry and use you to touch millions.

    We remember you today and always, Dapo. Continue to Rest In Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My dearest Toju, this is a brilliant initiative. Using your story to encourage others is such an inspiration to many. Thank you for the boldness to share. This platform will bless more people than You may least imagine. I admire your strength but above all is your unrelenting faith in Christ and the trinity.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Toju Toju, again… you are just one unique and remarkable vessel, occupying a special section of God’s heart! Thank you for sharing this. It’s beautiful. God bless you. God keep you. God cause His face to shine on you… now and always.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Toju. It is good to bear your heart and mind. Pour it all out and the healing will come. God is truly in all and is with you. Bless you my dear sistet

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Transparent and unfeigned presentation. You have learned the way of Spirit, albeit in a hard way. But like the gold that have gone through the refiners fire, you have come out a better and a useful member of the body of Christ. I am persuaded, you will come to know Him, even more in the days ahead. I encourage you to hold up your head high as you face the future that is sure going to surpass your entire past because there is so much experiential knowledge of the Great Holy Spirit of God that’s been granted you in your difficult times. That experience will become a useful tool for your future and for those that read your memoirs. Congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Toju,
    Awesome write up! Extremely touching. You are indeed a very strong woman. May God bless you and keep you. I just read all your articles and I’m in tears… don’t know if it’s tears of sadness that we’ve lost Dapo or tears of joy that Dapo was such an amazing person. We were chatting on our whatsapp group while watching the Man U vs Ajax Europa cup finals, and it felt so different. Something was missing… Dapo’s sense of humor and his unique perspective when analyzing football. I can only imagine how excited he would have been, watching ManU win the Europa cup. I’m glad ManU chose to win on your birthday. Happy birthday my dear friend, Dapsie Lo. May your soul Rest In Peace.
    Ehigie

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you all for your prayers and kind words. God bless you all for reading, commenting and sharing. All glory belongs to God. May the Holy Spirit continue to teach and comfort us.

    Like

  13. Toju, this is so deep and awesome. You are truly blessed though you did think otherwise at the beginning but your write up will not only help you but others going through the same situation. God bless you immensely and the children.

    Liked by 1 person

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