• Janet Sibanda

Life, love and loss: A Celebration of life

In a space of two weeks, I stood in the presence of two different families who were mourning the loss of a child. One family lost an infant in a horrific motor accident at their home, and another lost their 5-year-old to a condition they had only just come to know of.

Both families were grief-stricken and so was I. I shared in the pain of knowing they would never hold that little hand ever again. I shared in the hurt of realizing, the sun would rise tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, but it will never shine on that cherubic face ever again. I shared in the suffering of going to bed each night, knowing their angel was sleeping buried six feet underground, and not snugly buried in their blankets in the next room. All the while, I tried to imagine what it would be like if it were me. A mere second venturing into such thoughts had me sobbing uncontrollably.

No age is ever ok to bury a child! You hear people say, at least he/she wasn’t old enough to have known them. Yet, as the parent, the moment you know you are expecting, you can write a 500-page novel about, ‘my unborn child’. You hear people say, don’t worry God will bless you with another child. Yet I ask myself, can a child be replaced like a worn-out gearbox or a broken fan belt. Don’t cry they say, at least it wasn’t the loss of an adult, whom you had known for years. Is there a rule book on who is and isn’t to be mourned? Are there guidelines on how one grieves?

When I was expecting my firstborn, I realized we were friends before we ever met face to face. To begin with, I prayed for her and begged God to bless me with the gift of motherhood. I found out I was expecting a day before my birthday

and considered her a gift from God. Over time, she became fondly known as Patches, for the beautiful patchwork-effect her pregnancy had on my skin. By the time I held her in my arms, we were kindred spirits. My son, whom I affectionately named Cebolenkosi; meaning God’s Purpose, was the very purpose of God personified. A pregnancy riddled with struggles and sorrow, and yet because God has a purpose for him, we are blessed by him daily. I have come to appreciate that bonds are not built by time alone. Bonds are built on the foundations of impressions and experiences we have with others. You can meet a person only once in your life, and be left with a life long impression; positive or negative. That singular experience can form a love so strong, no man can understand.

To this day, I know my heartstrings for these souls were plugged in before their lifetime. I’m not here to debate pro-choice or pro-life. I’m here to appreciate that a connection with someone at any one point in their lifetime, can leave an imprint so deep, its fossilized in your heart forever.

Let’s take time to remember all my sisters, mothers, brothers, and fathers who have suffered the loss of a child. Be it a miscarriage, stillborn, and even a child once held in their arms. When words of comfort fail you; your silence and presence will suffice. When you cannot relate or comprehend the magnitude of their loss; your absence may be the best gift you can offer. Give them space to mourn the life they longed to hold or once held. Allow them time to celebrate the moments shared with that sweet soul. Life in itself is so fragile and yet each moment lived can be so fulfilling and worth savouring.

We don’t know people’s stories, neither is it our place to know. Your kindness and compassion go a long way in supporting the healing process. For those who are bereaved, seeking professional help to cope with the loss also allows for purposeful grieving and healing.

Looking for help is a positive step towards healing. Keep moving forward. As friends, family, and colleagues we rally behind you and are so proud of the strength you have shown in your journey towards healing from your loss. May God console and comfort you always.

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