My name is Uzorchukwu, I was born in the east to Catholic parents who did their best to raise me and my 3 siblings. After my secondary school education, Knowing how difficult it would be for my parents to afford fees for my tertiary education, As a teenager, I opted for marriage in order to relieve my parents of their responsibilities to me and to also lessen their financial burden.
I was married to my husband, Ikechukwu just before my 18th birthday. He was a young customs officer and also a loving and tender hearted man. He pampered me and helped with my family’s financial needs as much as he could.
However, my marital bliss wasn’t destined to last as my husband was taken away before I could really understand what marriage was all about. My husband died in line of duty.
On that fateful day, I was expecting my husband back from work when like a dream, came the knock that welcomed the feet which brought the bad news. It was the news that shattered my dreams and broke my walls to the tiniest pieces. I was shocked beyond words, frightened to a freeze and shattered above all imaginations; my world became a nightmare right in broad daylight.
His death was the greatest blow to hit me in life. I had built my life and world around my husband but death came and destroyed hopes of that blissful life, presenting me with a greater fear, which was my lot as a widow with my 5 beautiful little kids.
In my effort to fathom the reality of his death, I wailed and had to go back to a forced sleep of acceptance after my anger and denial; so as to make another dream. Being married before my 18th birthday and widowed before my 30th birthday plus the fact that I came from a very humble background really made my husband’s death a bitter pill to swallow.
The burial of my husband came three weeks after his death and I had to stay for one month and three weeks in the village to perform all the traditional rites. My kids and I were frightened of our state. After the burial of my husband, as the body was covered with sand, the last community singing was done, refreshments were served, behold one after the other, the crowd disappeared, leaving us all alone.
I remember how a fellow woman rained insults on me when I asked if I could go back to the city earlier because of my job and children’s school. I was accused of not mourning my husband properly by giving him due respect. Staying back in the village to mourn my late husband cost me a lot because on getting back to the city, most of the goods I had in a small shop I just opened prior to my husband’s death got spoilt. Who was I to tell and where was I to start from?
Among the challenges, I had to face right after the burial were segregation, alienation, victimization and exploitation. I realized immediately that families and friends’ love and understanding reduced by the second until I learnt to expect none. and I was a victim of people’s assumptions and conclusions.
Another hurt to deal with were the children’s. I couldn’t hold back tears when our 4-year-old daughter, after asking me ‘why didn’t daddy beg or say no to his death?’, then said tearfully, “mummy please don’t die, I do not want to be an orphan”. I fought continuously to get my kids out of despair of their father’s death with every tiny strength left in me. I mourned secretly deep down because I had no one to share my problems with but God who became and remained my strength and anchor.
What became harder to deal with was the lack of understanding and empathy in some people. I learnt from the things that started happening to me right after my husband’s burial that I had to survive on my own. I was either seen by most relatives, friends and even colleagues as a burden and as such was mostly avoided.
Travails of Widowhood, It Got Worse
Coming back after the burial, the kids returned to school. Just as we were beginning to adjust to our state, we woke up one day barely a 4months after the death of my husband, to be given quit notice to move out of the quarters we were living in. While still trying to sort that and seek assistance, I got to work 2 weeks later only to get sacked by my boss (a female for that matter) and the only reason was that I had resumed late for the fifth time in a row. I remember walking into the school that fateful morning in my mourning attire to see colleagues staring at me. Shortly after, I got the sack letter to which I had no prior warning.
I felt exploited and desolate. That day I contemplated suicide but remembered my kids begging me not to die. I was barely 30 years old, five kids, no husband, no house and no job. How will I ever survive? I asked myself several times but got no answer until God came through.
I learnt three months into widowhood to embrace God solely as the battles of widowhood were overwhelming my desolate soul, spirit and body. I was also made to understand in life that we all have a card to use for a win especially when conditioned. For me, all I had was God in my corner.
Deliverance and Help…
Help came in the form of an NGO, and I was empowered to learn different crafts and given money to start trading again plus other low-interest loans I was able to access. I thrived and grew but not without tears, sleepless nights, prayers and fasting. Today, I recount my ordeal to encourage other women that there is hope for the living no matter how bad things get. Widowhood is not the end of life, there is more to you than your spouse if only you learn to challenge yourself.
The taste of life in widowhood was so sour and unpleasant but I found a means of flavouring it through God’s grace in other to survive.
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