I TOOK SOLACE IN DOING HOUSE CHORES
Margaret Adongo, a businesswoman in Kyebando, one of the outskirts of Kampala lost her only son, aged 13 to a brain tumour in 2001. It all started while at school when he felt a headache and his grandmother picked him up. She took him to Tororo main hospital where he was admitted for two days. Just after being discharged, he got convulsions and was readmitted. Adongo, who was then in Kampala rushed to join them. from then, her son became lame, deaf and blind a condition he suffered from for two years and seven months. She later was referred to Mbale hospital then Mulago National Referral Hospital where she was advised to take him to India. “By then we had sold all our assets and so couldn’t raise the Shs42m needed to take him to India.
Seeing no improvement, Adongo says she took him back home. One day he woke up and opened his eyes. Excited, Adongo says she fed him on matooke but immediately after, he started vomiting blood and died.
After losing him, she says, she immediately didn’t feel the pain, but after burial and everyone going away, she felt an emptiness that nothing could fill.
“It was as though I had run mad because for a week I would stay up late mourning,” she recalls, adding , sometimes she would visit his grave and mourn by it all night. The worst was when her desperation made her move around the village in the middle of a night in heavy rainfall.
On return home she found everyone devastated; her father- in- law had collapsed and mother-in-law also very sick after a long night of crying as they thought she had committed suicide. She resolved to pick up her pieces and be strong.
At the time she didn’t feel like going back to the city so her cousin advised to busy herself with house chores and gardening so that by night she would be too tired to think about the son. Heeding the advice, Adongo says, she would dig one acre of land in three days and this worked in that by the time she went to bed, out of exhaustion she dozed off immediately without thinking.
Out of desperation, her father-in-law wanted to adopt for her a child from a babies’ home, but she refused as this would constantly remind her of her son. Amid it all, Adongo says she constantly prayed for strength to help her heal the pain. Two months later, she gathered the courage and went back to the city to resume her normal business. She learnt that God gives and takes away. She gave birth to another son in 2006.
Crying out all pain
Charlotte Mbabazi, a stock broker at Dyer and Blair lost her little angel when she was only one-day old in April 2010. Mbabazi says, that particular pregnancy was the worst she has experienced so far because it made her very weak so could not wait to hold the baby in her hands. At one time her cervix opened and she started bleeding; but the doctors contained it and she returned home. She was in labor for a week and so her and the baby got tired and was later induced.
At birth, Mbabazi says the baby was very weak and small so the doctors took her to a nursery. Mbabazi and her husband often went to the nursery to see and sing for her. what amazed her most was the fact that the baby could recognise their voices and turn around whenever they spoke.
She recalls a nurse at Nsambya hospital where she had given birth from calling her to the nursery only to find the baby bleeding from the ears and mouth. “It seemed like a bad dream and I kept wondering what I was going to tell my husband. Luckily, he immediately came in but on seeing the child he collapsed,” She narrates. Her pain wasn’t only about losing a child but also constant nagging from people who blamed her for the death of her own child. They always claimed that she had little faith in God and did not pray enough, so death was a sort of punishment.
Mbabazi says she remained strong until the time of burial when the body was being lowered in the grave; that is when reality of not seeing her princess set in and she wept deeply. After burial, Mbabazi says she resolved not to cry again, something she held onto, until she went for Bible study at Calvary Chapel on Luwum Street in the city centre for six weeks after the demise.
During fellowship, she cried out all her pain and the fellowship was dismissed, but that was the beginning of her healing. Then her husband’s support, talking about it with close friends and keeping herself busy, with housework contributed a lot to her healing. The support of friends some of whom paid the hospital bills and comforted her made them feel cared for. With constant prayers she moved on and nine months later conceived and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
Coping after a child’s death varies from person. Parents who find themselves in such a situation could follow tips David Kavuma, a counselling psychologist at Mild May Uganda and Adonai Counselling and Training Services says.
Accept the loss. Parents should get used to a new life where this person is not in existence.
Cry out the pain. Crying is good because it acts as a pain-reliever and coping strategy. However, don’t let the grieving take too long, if you don’t seem to get over the pain, seek professional help.
Get emotional and social support. After burial, everyone goes away and loneliness sets in. Some people keep busy with work but if you don’t have any work to keep yourself busy with or energy to do it, encourage friends to keep coming over and praying with you. This will help you find comfort in God.
Talk about it. Much as it is not good for people around you to keep talking about similar situations, talking about it with close friends will help relieve the pain as the pain will be coming out.