September 9, Declared As The Janet Akintuyi Day of Fair Support For The Bereaved
Today, September 9, as I do every year, I celebrate the memories I have left of my mother Mrs Janet Akintuyi.
For the past 24 years, it has been a roller coaster ride. There have been ups and downs , valleys and mountains, all reflections of the everyday realities of losing a loved one.
Today however, I choose to divert my thoughts to the experiences of spouses who have lost their loved ones.
Recently, my daddy, Richard Akintuyi, was a guest on “Your View”, a live program on TVC, to celebrate 2019 Father’s Day. Midway in to the programme, the anchor Morayo Brown, asked him why he chose to be unmarried all these years and he replied that he chose to give his attention to his kids to ensure they aren’t maltreated by another woman.
His response earned him a great deal of applause and where I sat in a corner of the studio, I could only weigh the import of his statement.
The truth is, packed in those 24 years are a myriad of experiences that are a kaleidoscope of the unique experiences of a bereaved.
Maybe my father fared a little bit better. But I know the society isn’t kind to bereaved partners. From time immemorial, there have been cases of sheer injustice and maltreatment meted to grieving partners.
In Nigeria, and of course, most countries in Africa, once a woman attains the unfortunate status of a widow, especially as a young woman, she faces severe humiliation and degrading treatment especially from her in-laws. We are quite familiar with the name calling such as blood sucking witch or that she will be denied access to her husband’s properties.
Death is real as it comes and it is an eventuality that should be prepared for. The reality of this fact is that death comes not only for the aged but for also the young ones. As we all look forward to living long, there should be a consciousness that it could perhaps end so soon.
This is why I’ve decided to use this day to appeal to couples to be intentional about what their post life lives should be. Just as many go into marriage with a prenuptial agreement , there should also be an agreement as to what should happen if one partner should untimely depart.
My father, I stated earlier fared better. After the demise of my mother, certain actions which needed not to be spelt out was meted on him. This begs the question of why people choose to be mean and wicked to the bereaved.
Grieving is a mental process that can wreck a person if not properly handled. A grieving partner needs all the support to navigate from the shock of the loss to adjusting to the realities of the loss.
Where absent, such a person might retain deep seethed resentment against those who have done them all the wrongs. The implication is that they will carry out certain actions that will have ripple effects with grievous consequences that stretch into eternity.
So today, September 9, which I declare as the Janet Akintuyi Day of Fair Support for the Bereaved, I implore everyone to be mindful of their actions to those who are grieving.
This is not the time to label a widow a witch or
a widower a Casanova.
This is not the time to use offsprings left behind as unpaid maids in the guise of helping them.
This is not the time to be interested in the properties of the dead
Rather, this is the time to be compassionate and show support for the bereaved.
Show them care and love
Help them through the grieving process.
Offer to help in cash and kind
Do anything that will make their loss bearable.
I’m glad my father didn’t succumb to the negative energy dissipated by some people who were ignorant of his turmoil at that particular moment of raw loss. He took consolation in his kids and gave them his maximum support. It is left to him to decide if he has been justified in his decision.
One thing is sure, his love for my mother, Janet Akintuyi, played a great part in upholding his decision. I believe it’s a divine love. Maybe such love is rare but not as rare as I had hitherto thought.
When I shared on a female only closed group on Facebook ,how I tried to get a wife for my dad about 15 years ago, some of my fellow members sent me private messages of how their fathers have been adamant against remarrying after the demise of their mothers.
We owe it to all these men and women who have kept the love alive even at the expense of their own comfort. They alone can tell of the long, lonely nights, the void and the ache, the feeling of incompleteness and a sense of detachment from the real world, in some cases.
These are some of the struggles a bereaved face. This does not account for the inadequacies that is evident where there are financial challenges and it seems there is no way out of the unending bills piling.
Today, I request that with all these in perspectives, there should be a change in orientation in our dealings with any bereaved.
Finally, I close this piece in honour of a dear brother, Sumbo Adebayo, who transitioned to glory.
Sumbo achieved greatness in his own space and everyone testified of his person. I pray his memories are fondly preserved and that his family are given the fortitude to bear the loss.
Chief Curator, Live on Memories.