Losing my grandmother abroad taught me grief isn’t a linear process

As the nation tuned in to observe Prince Philip being laid to relaxation final April, little did I do know that in a couple of hours’ time I’d be observing my grandmother’s personal funeral rites going down in Nigeria after her passing that night, watching teary-eyed by way of a poor video connection on WhatsApp.

My mum, sisters and I huddled over the cellphone, watching as Mama Gade (a reputation we affectionately referred to as her) was ready for burial in accordance with Islamic guidelines.

I discovered consolation in movies a buddy despatched me from the funeral prayer and burial website the following morning, as I watched Mama being carried for the final time to her grave, my father and two uncles laying her into the bottom earlier than prayers have been recited.

Over the following week, as soon as my mum lastly waded her means via the hurdles of pandemic journey restrictions and arrived in Nigeria, video calls turned our lifeline. My sisters and I, being the one members of our household within the UK on the time, have been alone as we got here to phrases with the good loss, all within the midst of lockdown.

As I witnessed household and pals within the background of calls collect at Mama’s dwelling to pay their respects – Covid restrictions being slightly extra lax in Nigeria – I couldn’t assist however really feel omitted of the grieving course of. Everyone again dwelling obtained to say their goodbyes correctly and be collectively.

Back in England, I used to be coping with my college coursework, taking care of my sisters and ensuring we have been all doing alright. But by the point my mum got here again three weeks later, I felt like I had executed all of the grieving I wanted to do.

As heartbroken as I used to be, nearly a 12 months later I now realise how the bodily distance between myself and Nigeria made it considerably tough to correctly grieve Mama. The distance helped numb my emotions in a means that everybody again dwelling, resulting from proximity and household and group help, have been in a position to totally embrace and expertise.

In the weeks after my grandmother’s demise, I wrote in my Notes app: “I’ve been able to comprehend Mama’s passing, but I don’t think it’ll hit me until I go to Nigeria and go to her house.

“Her house is the longest relationship I’ve had with any home in my life. I have some of my earliest memories there and I don’t ever feel like I’m truly settled in Nigeria until I’m in her home.

“But next time I visit, her chair will be empty, her wheelchair out of sight and the blanket mummy had crocheted for her which she never got to use, folded away somewhere”.

And I used to be proper. It wasn’t till a visit to Nigeria earlier this month – my first since December 2020 – that I used to be overwhelmed with emotion at being in Mama’s dwelling, for the millionth time, however this time with out her.

Less than 5 minutes upon getting into, I broke down in tears as I realised her dwelling and Nigeria would by no means really feel the identical once more. It was at that second that I realised that grieving isn’t actually over.

But I’d be mendacity if I stated that with Mama’s passing, there wasn’t a gentle aid. An ever so small one. The aid of now not holding my breath when cellphone calls come via from household again dwelling unexpectedly or at odd hours – a holding of your breath I do know so many different individuals who have been raised continents away from their family members have felt.

The aid of now not listening to my mum’s panicked voice answering a name saying: “Hello, me ya faru?” asking what’s fallacious in our native tongue. Those three phrases, loaded with such emotion. The fixed concern that the following cellphone name from again dwelling goes to be telling us one thing has occurred to Mama. Just like that one name, that April night.

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A Pandora’s field of questions has since opened after my journey as I discover myself now navigating the way to proceed and strengthen my relationships with household in Nigeria. My mother and father have executed such a great job guaranteeing that we’ve all the time identified the place we come from and been shut with our household. But it’s reached a time now the place it’s now not their duty, however mine. And it’s not one I take flippantly.

There’ll come a time when my very own mother and father will select to settle again in Nigeria, and I’ll even be confronted with the duty of getting to stability life right here within the UK and there.

Figuring out the place I’ll settle sooner or later is one thing I wrestle with at occasions. The UK is dwelling and Nigeria is their dwelling, nevertheless it’s additionally mine, to an extent. It’s the place they need to be buried when the time comes and it’s a want that I need to honour.

As a baby of the diaspora, my grandmother’s loss has taught me lots concerning the significance of documentation. Through numerous movies and photographs, I’ve been in a position to hold her reminiscence alive as we recorded various phases of her journey with Alzheimer’s, from when she might nonetheless stroll, discuss and snigger, to her extra subdued and mellow self in her final couple of years.

It brings me pleasure and peace. But with the top of each video comes the want that they lasted just a bit longer, so I might get another day together with her.

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