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Pushing up Daisies

By Debie Olujobi

It’s a morbid but acceptable truth that most of us will end up dead at one time or the other. From the time one is born; one expects to one day die. Most of us will choose to live a joyfully long existence but even given the best of circumstances; there are no guarantees and at some time we will be pushing up daisies.

Its an idiom that takes the grimness out of  death as it suggests some good will come out of a timely or even untimely demise. It is a particularly popular term among those who make their living from the grim and rather profitable business of death; undertakers, pathologists alike.

To my mind, pushing up daisies means we become part of the soil and fertilise it enough to help things grow. From that angle one can see death as the beginning of life in another form.

I imagine the tone of the column is looking grim to say the least and I didn’t set out to drench the already dampened spirits of my readers given the deadly disasters that have just occurred. Many families are beyond devastated and the mood is very somber everywhere; those who are not touched directly are touched by their humanity.

Everyone on the Dana flight died and many others on the ground lost their lives, while others sustained life changing injuries. Its a grim irony that pedestrians; some sleeping, some eating at home died in a plane crash! There are conflicting stories about the events of the day.

I have heard stories of passengers crying out for help after the crash and that scores would have been saved if help had come on time but they are of little comfort to those who have lost entire families, limbs and property to the unfortunate accident.

Grief is not a light emotion; its heavy and suffocating. Its an emotion that brings life to painful slow motion and it always feels like no one understands. Everyone touched by grief is affected differently and no one’s pain is any better than the other. 16 years ago last wednesday I lost my mother to cancer and I cant exactly say whether that pain or losing my baby sister to a 3 day illness 26 years ago felt worse.

Losing loved ones hurt, it doesn’t matter how they die; there is a finality about death that breaks hearts and crushes spirits. It is especially painful when the person is an authority figure and a provider to boot. It begs the question of surviving without them and what manner of life expectation one has in their absence.

The sad reality is that a monumental loss of a loved one changes reality, life will have to take a different turn; its the way of the world. People cant be replaced; no one will ever love you than your mother or father and even if they did; it still wont ever feel the same.

Losing my mother 16 years ago, was devastating. My siblings and I were shell shocked; we honestly didn’t know how we would survive. She was mother, father, friend, sister, protector and provider all in one. The days and years after June 14th 1996 were very dark and very grim.

Tough decisions had to be made; we all had to grow up and fast; life had to go on. We found ourselves in a sink or swim situation and while we struggled a lot; we swam. I can promise everyone caught in this tailspin of grief that it gets better; time does heal all wounds.

I had gone to mother’s grave side to drop some flowers this  past week when the idiom I use as today’s title just popped into my mind. Pushing up daisies took a new meaning for me and I realised that my mother’s death hadn’t killed or wrecked us all.

We are all fine, my siblings and I made it through the pain; we are all individually successful and still a family. I stood over her grave and in my mind’s eye I saw a bed of beautiful daisies; this wonderful woman was the
earth from which we all grew; beautiful and happy, just like daisies!

Its been 16 years and my pain is no longer raw, I have gone from a place of despair at my loss to a place of gratitude for my gains. My mom died at just 48 years, my sister at 10. I have known grief from other losses but none such as these two people and my words are not inane platitudes meant to sugar coat what is a horrible tragedy.

For those who mourn; acceptance is key to beginning the process of healing. Struggling with reality and refusing to accept what has happened only heightens suffering and I don’t recommend it. I advocate prayer and counselling, taking one step at a time, one day at a time.

The exact middle of the bible says it is better to put confidence in God and not man and I know from experience how true that is. Expecting people to take over the role of lost loved ones is asking for disappointment and disillusionment. Accept help when its offered otherwise make do with what is available; that’s what we did.

Its still early days yet; some bodies have not been identified and even those recently buried bring no joy to the lives of those left behind. I can imagine how long the nights have become for wives and husbands who suddenly have an empty space where once there was a warm body.

It is indeed sad but time will eventually heal this wound and I pray its sooner rather than later. I pray you get to a place where your lost loved one becomes the earth that nourishes the daisies you will eventually become.


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