A colleague of mine lost her dad sometime this month.
You know how there’s a particular person in your office that you both are always at each other’s neck. Steady yabbing and threatening to beat each other, but you know it’s all done in love, and that the office loves you two.
That’s how Tola and I were (I use ‘were’ because I really don’t know if she’ll ever be coming back).
When my boss told me that Tola lost her dad, I was confused.
Ah ah, but Tola was at work yesterday.
We even did our usual threatening to beat each other session.
We went to the supermarket to buy noodles which she cooked.
When we were walking back, she told me about her dad and how he sends allowance to her mum, and now you’re telling me that he’s dead?
Oh my God!
I have never lost anyone close to me to death, and I am very grateful to God for that, therefore, I have never been to a funeral.
So when everyone was making plans to go for the funeral, I said I wasn’t going. I love Tola from the bottom of my heart, but I was scared.
How do I watch her cry while the service goes on? What do I say to her to make her feel better? What if I say something I shouldn’t say?
There were a whole lot of questions going through my mind.
I eventually changed my mind (thank God), and we set out for the venue.
Not to be insensitive here, but Tola did me a huge favor. She said we should go straight to the reception, which is like the party done after the funeral.
A huge favor because, I didn’t have to see her cry, or tell her to be strong like everyone else would’ve done, or sing along to the hymns, and possibly end up crying more than she did.
Thankfully, we (some of my colleagues and I) got to the venue for the reception on time and took our seats.
If you’re Nigerian, you know Yoruba people always know how to throw the best parties. Be it weddings, birthdays, burials, naming ceremonies, e.t.c. If you’re not Nigerian, well, now you know.
Tola came and sat with us and we were all talking. She even kept asking if we wanted more food, and occasionally she would laugh or smile at something someone said or did.
Despite all this, I could see the sadness behind her smiles and laughter. I even had to snap her back to reality when she had one of those lost, faraway, glazed looks.
Now to the most amazing part of the reception.
Apparently, the children of the deceased are called from youngest upwards to come out and dance with their friends.
Although I am a horrible dancer, I knew I had to be there for my Tola.
So I and about 6 other girls troop to the front to show our love for Tola.
I’m sure I made a fool of myself outside, but I was so happy seeing Tola dancing.
I haven’t dealt with the death of anyone before, but from what I observed at the reception, I was able to make a list of four things that should help you feel better after losing a loved one.
1. Surround yourself with friends that genuinely care for you.
Tola told me she had been crying during the funeral, but when we were all together talking and laughing, she didn’t shed a single tear.
I might not be totally correct, but I think it was being in the company of people who genuinely cared for her that helped her feel better and even smile.
2. Listen to upbeat, happiness-inducing songs.
There was a live band who kept giving us awesome Yoruba music.
If you’ve ever been in a session of Yoruba praise, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I’m sure there’ll be videos on YouTube.
While the music was going on Tola was dancing. Seriously dancing.
Even though I knew I was embarrassing myself in front of everybody, seeing Tola dance was enough consolation for me.
3. Look for ways to be happy.
Tola had the choice of just sitting on her own, and totally shutting everyone out, but thankfully, she didn’t.
She mingled during the reception, and I was super proud of her for doing that.
4. Family is everything
I have never met Tola’s family, but I could see the bonds that held them together.
Her elder sister came out to dance later, and the both of them were laughing and having fun outside. I guess her brothers came too, but we didn’t stay long enough to watch them dance.
I know that they will always look out for each other, especially now.
I always assumed everything about funerals were sad, and dreary, but yesterday I realized that it is also a celebration of life.
Being thankful to God for letting someone you loved be around for an awfully long time is not something that should ever be taken for granted.
I know it sounds easier said than done, but I believe there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.
Have an amazing weekend, and may God keep those we love safe in his arms.