This picture was taken on a Sunday afternoon at St. Peters Anglican Church, Okpella.
I don’t know how I managed to have such a big smile while experiencing the worst thing that has ever happened to me. It was two days after my mother was buried. A thanksgiving service was held in her honor on that Sunday. We were all supposed to give thanks to God and not question what had happened to us, to my mum. I was supposed to say, ‘Thank You God, I know you do everything for a reason.’
And that’s what I was taught growing up. Give thanks to God in whatever happens because He always has a plan. And usually, I did. I would even start thinking up the different possible plans God had for making me fail or fall or lose something. If I lost something, I would think, maybe it was never meant to be mine.
But I could not see any big plan, any big reason why my mother had to die. There was no possible explanation for why I became motherless a week to my graduation from university. None at all. I couldn’t give thanks. In fact, I couldn’t pray at all.
Now, there were a lot of prayers going on during this period. Most guests who came around would say a word of prayer with us before they left. A couple of days before my mum was buried, members of my extended family decided that we should all do a 3 day fasting and prayers for the success of the funeral and the peaceful resting of my mother’s soul. I joined them in skipping meals but I’m not sure I can say I fasted because I could not pray.
At the three church services that were held the weekend she was buried, there were a lot of prayers. I said a lot of ‘Amen’s from my mouth, but none came from my heart. I may have even scoffed a little whenever someone said, “We can’t question God.” I had a lot of questions for Him, I wanted to know what his big plan was. I was shattered and broken and I needed answers. I still need answers.
In the months that followed my mother’s death, I was filled with so much resentment, hatred, and anger. I was angry at God, I was angry at the universe, I was angry at myself. I couldn’t pray and I didn’t want to go to church. Even when I did go to church, during prayers my lips would be clamped shut, and so would my heart. I didn’t have anything to say to God.
The few months before my mum passed were the months I was the closest to my God. I was praying a lot, I was at peace and finally understanding my spirituality a lot better. I was truly happy and I felt blessed. It was one good thing happening to me after another. Her death felt like a betrayal from God. Smack in the middle of my happy year, the greatest disaster possible befell me. “How could you?” I screamed inside my head every night when I had to bite my pillow to keep myself from crying aloud.
Here I am, 14 months later, still struggling. I am still trying to find my way back to prayers. I crave that personal relationship I had with my God. I miss the ease with which I used to pray back then, I miss the thrill that came with answered prayers. I miss feeling God in my heart. Now, when I try to pray, I can barely focus. A voice in my head starts asking me what the point of praying is if it can’t protect me from bad things.
Eloghosa said to me, ‘If God can’t stand to be questioned, then is he God?’ and I agree with her.
What if the only way to get these answers I so badly seek is by asking God, through prayers?
There’s no rule book to dealing with the loss of a loved one, no one size fits all. But I’d love to hear from anyone who reads this. Have you ever lost a loved one? Did it shake your faith or your belief in God? How did you deal/ are you dealing with it?