Dealing with the death of a partner

Thursday April 22 2021
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By Bradford Kamuntu

There has been so much death in the recent weeks/months looming over us and even though I did not lose someone, reading people’s stories, seeing people in grief and even just looking at death announcements felt a little too heavy.

Whether it is the pandemic, old age or any other illnesses, there just seems to have been a spike in the number of deaths that were being reported. I do not know what it is about this time (as I am sure many of you do not either) but what is happening around us is extremely hard to ignore.

Our timeline was buzzing with news of HRH Prince Philip’s death, news outlets everywhere were awash with tributes and testimonials about how much of an impact he had on the United Kingdom and the Common Wealth at large. And on the flipside, there were corners of social media that were filled with memes about how frail he looked, how his death was long overdue. Some of these did not have mal intent, it was just simply social media doing what it does best; making light of any situation, even death.

On Saturday April 17 as he was laid to rest, a very haunting image of the Queen sitting alone at his funeral dressed head to toe in grief made its rounds on social media and several news outlets. Personally, it was quite sad to see. I mean the Royal Family’s imperfections aside I just could not bring myself to imagine how she was feeling, what great loss she was carrying and the fact that she had to bear the brunt of this loss by herself. Something her family could not comprehend as they were dealing with the loss of a loved one in an entirely different capacity.

The more I read, watched and pondered on all previously acquired knowledge of the royal family (by way of television shows, movies and my mother), the sadness I felt on her behalf dug even deeper. I would be completely beside myself if I lost the love of my life after 73 years left with no sibling or close immediate relation of my generation to comfort me knowing just how great a loss I am experiencing.

It would also be particularly difficult to have to deal with this loss in the middle of a pandemic and in a country where standard operating procedures are taken seriously, where you cannot lean on or squeeze your children and grandchildren to ease the pain you are feeling.

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I was also scrolling through my twitter feed and landed on a story about an entertainer in South Africa who committed suicide. I knew nothing about her but the videos people posted of her taking that leap were so grim. Again, I was faced with heavy news of death. I later found out she was engaged to South African rapper AKA, who I am also not very familiar with but the image of him sitting in front of her coffin was just as haunting as the one of Queen Elizabeth II.

I have never lost a loved one past or present (well, to death at least), but the thought of death snatching them away and leaving me completely shattered stirs up a fear in me that could possibly make me avoid companionship. I know, such is life they always say but what a daunting prospect. To build a life with someone and just have it snatched away from you by death, like it never happened.

I know many grieving persons are met with messages and sayings such as “hold on to the memories” but if we are to be objectively honest, a memory is nothing in comparison to having your loved one physically present.

Losing a partner can be devastating, whether the death is sudden or follows an illness. One day you are with them and the next you are single, alone and grieving. Between the intense emotions, the lifestyle changes, and the many practical considerations that accompany the death of a loved one, you probably feel overwhelmed and anxious about your future.

Here is a message to anyone dealing with the loss of a spouse/partner (or just the loss of a loved one in general). May you be comforted, may you find peace, and may you heal. No one around you can ever aptly relate to what you are experiencing but please, use the resources around you as a step towards your healing.

Remember partner. It is important to know that even if someone whom we have been very close to dies, the memory of them does not die – they still live on in us. We do not stop relating to the person because they are no longer alive and with us. It can help to think of ways you can keep your partner as part of your life and that of your children if you have any.

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