When we are young, we have all sorts of wonderful plans of what and who we want to be in the future, and our culture often throws marriage and children to be a large part of that picture. With those dreams and aspirations in mind, the ‘happily ever after’ is attached to those desires until the dream changes into a nightmare, and we are left wondering what on earth happened!
I recall being that person. Yes, the one with the dreams and aspirations until the unimaginable happened.
I was widowed, suddenly. In the twinkling of an eye, my life became like a bad dream that had me in a perpetual state of sleep.
I became exposed to a world that I never knew existed. A world where a woman loses her husband and immediately becomes the subject of wild accusations and suspicion because no African man can pass away from natural causes, the wife must have killed him!
There is no rationale to this, it is just an unspoken rule that no matter how faithful, loving, respectable, committed, God-fearing, or whatever else you may be, the moment your husband is pronounced dead, YOU killed him!
My parents are still happily married with over 60 years under their belt, so I had no reference point to hedge this experience; at 82, my mother has still not experienced what I did.
Being brought up in England, though schooled in Ghana, it was one part of our culture I was not familiar with, and I guess why would I have been?
I knew at that moment when the sorry saga began to unfold that it was either fight or flight… I decided to FIGHT.
Widowhood is a dark place. It’s lonely, it’s frightening and it leaves you feeling naked and vulnerable in ways you could never imagine. When you have children, it makes the experience even harder.
A lady came to see me last year for grief coaching (emotional health support) after her husband died; to date, she has no idea where her husband is buried because the family blamed her for his death, and she had just had a baby.
When I was researching cultural abuse exacted on widows when penning my book;
‘Not This Widow’, I found out some women are made to stay in a room for days with the body of their dead husbands or forced to drink the water the body is bathed in. If the woman falls ill, then it’s proof they are guilty, and yes, this still goes on in 2023.
It is important to understand that if you are married unless you plan to die on the same day as your husband or wife, there is a 50% chance of you being widowed, think about that for a moment.
What does that mean? That being widowed can happen to any of us, so let us learn to be compassionate and leave the harmful cultural practices alone, those practices that are really steeped in greed and exploitation to gain money and property, disguised as sympathy and concern,
I am one of the blessed ones. I fought back. I won. I conquered.
It is so important that we realise that the death of a loved one does not mean the death of us. We are still here because we still have a purpose to fulfil, and this is what led to the ‘Not This Widow Foundation’ being created.
We offer emotional and mental health support, as well as legal services, and a safe space to learn to live life after death via our online support and coaching services.
We will be coming to Ghana to put on a free workshop and luncheon.
There will be a buffet-style luncheon, live music by DJ Nickie Cartel & Afro House Collective, inspirational speakers, goody bags and so much more.
It’s about time we celebrated widows, and about time that we started investing in protecting our mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. No more idly standing by to abuse a woman in her most vulnerable state, no more victimising women.
If you are widowed of any age, social status, or religion, whether you have children or not, please know that you are cordially invited to the ‘Not This Widow Foundation’ workshop and luncheon, sponsored by Pan Africa TV and BURO, on Saturday 23rd of September, 2023 at Buro, Plot 7.
Please register on the website www.notthiswidow.org or on Eventbrite for catering and attendance purposes.
If you would like to support the foundation or sponsor a widow, please contact us at:
[email protected] or email [email protected] or if you have been widowed and need our services you can use the same contact details.
Source: Dilys Sillah
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