Hard to deal with death of parents abroad


IT is always a difficult time when one loses a parent, anywhere.
But it is more difficult to deal with the death of a parent abroad.
For Africans, a funeral is never a single family affair and has several protocols to be observed.
The situation is incredibly hard for those abroad and their families.
When parents visit and eventually fall sick and die, one experiences mixed feelings.
When one made the decision to move abroad he/she never really imagined being in that situation of having to deal with the death of a parent in a foreign land.
When one invites parents to come and visit, the last thing he/she thinks of is sending them home in a coffin.
The process of grief is the adjustment of the psyche to the absence of something that was present and is now gone.
Death and loss leave an aching hole where once we found emotional, physical, spiritual or mental nourishment.
The psyche reacts by ‘looking’ for the missing piece, trying to fill the void again.
Back home are many relatives, including our parents’ close friends, who are a source of comfort and literally stop us from losing our minds.
Many people never think as much about their parents as they do in the months following their death.
The worst part of the loss is when those at home start putting the blame of their demise on you.
Grieving abroad is different from experiencing it in the physical intimacy of the village or urban township.
Skype or facebook is not enough.
When it comes to grieving abroad, the situation teaches you, very fast, to be strong and brave.
For the first time one is forced to make huge decisions without the support of the immediate and extended family.
The phone calls one receives in that moment, from home, are more stressful than comforting.
Many of the calls are not constructive.
A friend revealed how an uncle of his called asking why he had invited his father to England to kill him.
It is difficult to make meaningful arrangements with those at home.
You cannot wait to bring back home the parent so that he or she is buried home, with his or her ancestors but you dread the ‘court’ that awaits — the unfounded and unsubstantiated accusations.
The repatriation process is a nightmare and those who will be giving you a hard time rarely contribute to bringing back home your loved one.
People here might even feel out of sync with those back home.
With each phone call, you are asked what happened.
And this is usually a long narrative.
No one gives you time to make arrangements and grieve.
Most people here hold their breath, hold back their emotions but eventually succumb to pressure and fall apart — alone.
The loss brought by death reminds us that we need to embrace life as much as we can and celebrate the lives of our loved ones.
Rather than letting resulting feelings of guilt stand in the way of making the most of the relationships that are still there for us to enjoy, let it be the spur that pushes us to cherish and care for the people we love, in the best way we can, within the bounds of our choices.
And then accept that when the time of passing on to the yonder world comes, it is what is predistined.
Losing parents abroad is painful, and the people at home should not add to the nightmare.
Inviting our parents here is not a death trap.
Bad things happen anywhere.


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