How To Deal with Sudden Death
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How to deal with a sudden death
We all have deaths that happen in our own families whether it is caused by illness, tragedy, typhoons, wars or self inflicted deaths like suicide. It is hard to imagine how everyone feels losing someone they love in life. But natural deaths are easier to cope with than unnatural or sudden deaths like deaths that are caused by storms or typhoons, wars or even worse suicides. We hear about people being killed by landslides due to storms, people being killed by tsunamis and earthquakes, people being killed due to wars and so on. And these deaths are also sudden deaths that no family is prepared for them but has to be dealt with. Suicide is the worst thing I think when someone you love dearly takes their own life.
Let me tell you a story of my mother who took her own life which left me and the family devastated for life and how I dealt with it. I was the eldest in the family of six children, four boys and two girls. In my culture, if you are the eldest, you automatically assume responsibility when your mother dies or your father dies come to that. Two weeks before my mother committed suicide, I graduated as a midwife. My father and mother came to my graduation day and they were both very proud and happy that I have finished my two-year course midwifery and I will be able to get a job and will be able to help them in return. That was my plan. I was very happy that at least I can start earning money for a change instead of spending it for school fees. But due to my mother's sudden death, my happiness was short-lived. I began to worry about how would I cope doing what my mother use to do everything for us. But no time to worry, I just got on with it. It was hard work but I had to do it. Looking down at my innocent young siblings, my heart bled for them. I was not prepared for that situation at all. I had to forget all about my dreams and future plans because my family always come first in any situation. My father just got on as well with the day to day job to provide for us and drowned his sorrows in his work.
What happened next
My mother was always low in mood most of the time because she got asthma and she knew that she has to take asthma pills for life. She always said that, it would be better if she is dead because she thought she is a burden to the family especially my father who was our breadwinner at the time. I didn't take any notice of what she was saying because even though my father was only a miner, his wages were enough to support our needs. But I was wrong, I should have listened to my mother more when she mentioned about death. I thought at the time mother knows best and she won't do it but how wrong I was. She said it many times before but I never imagined she would actually do it. She drank the rat poison that they kept for the farm one evening when our father was at work, it was nighttime. My mother was taken to the nearest clinic but did not make it. The rat poison was so strong that it killed her quickly. I can't forget her last words as they were taking her to the hospital she said to me "Goodbye Linda, promise me you will look after your brothers and sister". I did not have any choice. My grandfather who was blind came up on the second floor of our house to say goodbye to his daughter before they took her to the clinic. We were all devastated.
How I coped after my mother's death
How I managed the following days and months that followed, I did not know. My father went back to work and I looked after everyone in the house, my blind grandfather, my younger brothers and three year old sister. I cleaned the house, did the laundry, cooked our meals, feed our animals like chickens, dogs and pigs, and even go to the farm to tend to my mothers sweet potatoes that she planted before she died, carrying my sister on my back. My brothers were attending primary school at the time so I had to prepare their packed lunches every morning. It was hard to be a mother and a sister to them as well. Somehow I managed to do what my mother used to do. That is why I did not have time to grieve over my mother's death. I was too busy looking after all my loved ones but I did it with all my love for my family. I still miss my mother but we have a loving step-mother who looks like our mother and she loves us all. They really look like twins but not identical. My father remarried after a few years had passed and she is a wonderful loving step-mother who loves us unconditionally.
Tips on how to deal with sudden death
We all deal with sudden deaths differently and this is how I dealt with my mother's sudden death.
- Accept the situation and deal with it
- Focus on what needs to be done now and what to do next
- Accept that things will never be the same and some changes to be made
- Change your future plan if needed
- Be strong and help the young ones cope without having a mother
- Be willing to accept help from other people when you can't handle everything
- Be willing to sacrifice your career for your family
- Learn to live and let go
What lessons I learnt from my mother's sudden death
I now understand what my mother was going thru when she killed herself. I think she was depressed but I did not know the meaning of depression in those days. I wish I could have saved her but there are things we only learn after something happens. I only understood the meaning of depression when I experienced it myself but because of what happen to my mother, I was determined to live and find ways to get out of depression. Also if I hear anyone saying they are depressed, they should be listened to. If we can't help them, maybe we can find others who can help.