What I've been wondering about is how our friends and families are coping with their grief. We continue exploring the grief experience and coping with grief through the perspective of family and friends in this week's post where Sarah, Chidinma's close friend, shares a glimpse into her own grief journey.
30th Of March 2020 started like most days really, although I was heavy in spirit, I remained hopeful because I believed if there was anyone who could pull out a last hurrah it would be Chidinma.
You see, Chidinma was not your average woman, she was exceptionally strong and brave. In the face of uncertainty, she had this unwavering infectious faith and thoroughly embodied the spirit of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
The nights when she was at the hospital, a group of her close friends came together and prayed daily and sometimes we would shout out and cry out her name as if communicating directly with her spirit cause we all knew how incredibly strong she was.
I particularly was already looking forward to the conversations we would have after she recovered, how I would tease her, the thanksgiving, the testimony and so much more.
Chidinma was aware of and involved in just about every major life decision I had taken or was yet to take in my life. I was about to make yet another major life decision (getting married) and my goodness, she was beyond excited for it.
She would cry tears of joy on some occasions. So many plans had already begun to unfold, decisions were already being made, we particularly looked forward to our dancing together at the wedding party after all had been said and done.
Chidinma knew my journey inside and out, knew my family and I also knew hers. We had so many significant shared experiences together that, thinking back, I can only be grateful for. Chidinma knew a lot of people, she was warm and had always been a people person, I on the other hand have always been extremely private, not the easiest to interact with on first meeting and always kept to myself.
Even with our differences, we connected so deeply that we sometimes surprised ourselves, a few times she would remark “Bia! This girl, it’s like you grew up in my backyard” of which I would respond with a laugh because there was just no way to explain it.
Chidinma was always a positive influence on me, she saw through me and saw the strength and potential that I didn't even know I possessed. That’s the kind of person she was.
We both had other friends, some closer than others but Chidinma was my most significant,
she understood me without me having to say much. We reserved a special spot for each other. She was indeed my soul sister.
Receiving the phone call of her passing brought a pain that was unendurable, it felt like my soul vacated my body and I was floating. I just simply could not believe it, I was alone, I was beyond numb, I was in shock, I pictured her beautiful face, the Chidinma I know, laying still in some hospital bed, noooo! my brain refused to consolidate it.
At that moment I wanted to see her, speak with her almost to say “mama can you see what’s happening? please if it’s a joke let it stop”. There was a lot of confusion that day, I just didn’t know what to do, where to be, who to talk to, who to see, who not to see, the day was a blur, I was on my own.
For a while I could not leave my car, I held on to its wheels like it had answers, like leaving the car would make the news real. I eventually arrived at her house, hoping, desperately hoping to see her face at the door smiling cheek to cheek, ready with one of her awesome hugs…
The days, weeks and months that followed after were a cocktail of numbness, irritation, anger and a general feeling of weakness, nothing made sense to me anymore. Amongst her friends and with family, I tried to show a face of strength and resilience.
I would not allow anyone see me cry, I would not allow myself to break down in the presence of others but in my privacy, when alone, there were hot tears, there was wailing, there was disbelief, I spoke to myself a lot.
I also spoke to Chidinma a lot like she was there but would almost recoil from the fear that she just may respond. I felt like I was running mad, I felt so very alone but at the same time felt so guilty that my feelings made me selfish, but I too had lost her hadn’t I?
The passing of Chidinma for me was like a sad scene out of a movie you were enjoying without the usual consolation at the end that it was just a movie, in my case, the movie never ends and the bad scene stays fresh in your mind.
With every new experience I encounter, with every significant moment I experience, with every major step I take, with any funny or not so funny moment I’m involved in, even down to listening to some old/ new songs or watching some old/ new movies that I know she loved or would have loved; I relive the pain of her passing, the grief process starts again, I literally have to catch my breath, I become numb and heavy. It never really goes away, rather I just find ways to live with it.
I remember my friend was strong and so I draw from that strength. I remember my friend loved life and found joy and whatever stage she found herself in and so I honour her by doing the same.
I remember my friend was inspirational and so to inspire I will strive to be. I remember my friend was selfless, full of light and a beauty that resonated inwardly and outwardly; I continue to pray for such grace.
I remember most importantly my friend deeply, loved God, prayed fervently and knew ultimately where she wanted her final destination to be, nothing or no one could stand in the way of that and I challenge myself with that daily.
One thing has resonated and stayed with me since my dear friends passing and I readily remind anyone who is willing to reading. Tomorrow Is Never Promised. Say your I love you’s now, forgive who needs forgiving, make those plans and execute. Don’t procrastinate, Live your life to the fullest, take time to smell the roses. Do what makes you happy, be positively inspirational and most importantly be sure of your final destination and stay committed to that path.
To Be Continued Next Wednesday...
I would like to hear from you. Would you please share your thoughts, comments and reflections below? Thank you.