Gogo Lwandle Speaks About Grieving

Estimated read time 9 min read

Grief is one of the things people do not have patience for when it is being experienced by someone else. There will be remarks like, “he/she needs to get over it already” . Is there a timeline for grieving and ka hlehle  what is grief?  

Google amongst other explanations defines it as: Grief is the response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or some living thing that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. 

I would describe it as an emotion felt to occupy space for what is no more, or just never was. 

When one loses something be it a person, an asset, a feeling each one of those things occupied a particular space in your equilibrium, and the absence of it causes imbalance. Naturally to put it in balance it must be replaced by something, a place holder…X. Just like in Mathematics, the process of grieving then becomes solve for X.

It is easy to understand a loss of something or someone and sometimes makes the process easier to bare, because  all you are expected to do is to gradually release the pain until you eventually forget about the cause. This as opposed to grieving something that never was or is not, a tricky one because the more you don’t remember what it is you’re grieving the more damage it causes inside you

Is there a timeline to grieving though ? Let’s look at losing someone through death. We don’t know death until we die, and maybe that’s why we grieve longer than we should sometimes. Yes sure, people should not be rushed through it until they have completely dealt with their emotions, kodwa it is equally important to let go of the grief. Holding on to someone who is gone only delays the deceased full circle, not only that, it also delays continuation of the living that will come through the passing away of the deceased. 

What do I mean? When one passes on, they become part of your ancestry entourage whether timely or untimely. If timely, you holding on to them delays them from fully settling and taking up the role they need to play in your life as an ancestor. Ulibele u yakhala la umlibe consumed in grief, awazi wena ukuthi uhleli phezu kwe lotto la. This person you are not letting go of, is the one tasked with bringing you your lotto. Lotto is loosely used in this instance, could be your breakthrough, your freedom, yes maybe even the actual lotto numbers.

Over and above the delay on the griever’s part, it is also not fair on the deceased. There is a reason it is said, “ he/she will be laid to rest”…yes rest, not noise of ongoing tears okooookooookoo wena u khala. Allow the deceased to rest, so they can come into a full being of the world they have joined. Remember every new process begins with infancy, the more you delay the process of letting go the further the time frames are pushed out. 

Imagine if their death was untimely, when will they get around to tying up the lose ends left on earth and get started on the payback for those who caused the untimely departure and then settle into being your guide. Allow yourself to heal, so the deceased can heal and those they come from on the other side must heal too. Don’t delay the process unnecessarily, you are holding up the queue and frustrating the process for many others seen and unseen and not only you. 

The trickier grief is to grieve for something that never was or is not. Yabona le inga kusa e Bhofolo (Madhouse) straight, it is an unending search for something you yourself don’t know. Yes you might be able to describe it, but even when you do get it will not be enough because you’ve never had it and therefore would not identify with the feeling, it will constantly be strange. 

This grief drives people to substance abuse, depression, solitude even intwaso. There is what people call mommy or daddy issues. It is common knowledge that people wo suffer from such look for the aspect of parental love in their partners, which results in their partners never being enough for them no matter how much they give of themselves. The one with the grief will always be looking for the next best thing, searching for that fulfilment to close the hollow  feeling inside, and when questioned will always respond with “ you won’t understand” which is just a reflection of what they are feeling, confusion.

A lot of people are unhappy in relationships, not because they are not with suitable partners but because they are grieving for themselves, la nto esiyibiza ngo mvandedwa esi Xhoseni gxhebe feeling sorry for yourself nge lika Goerge. This reminds me of an instance when I was about 10 years old sitting on the coach in my grandparents’ home in the lounge. My grandfather comes up to me and remarks “ oohh mzukulu, wahlala wedwa yintoni awuphilanga? “. I responded that I am ohkay, there’s nothing wrong with me. 

This was just too odd for my grandfather wo continued to ask a series of questions in search of what is wrong with me, so he continued, “ ukhumbula u sisi wakho?”,  I responded no “U khumbula, u bhuti wakho?”, I responded no, by the way both these people were somewhen in the house. He further went on to ask, “ ukhumbula u nyoko?” I paused to think about this one because it was a possibility, my mom stayed some 700 km away from us. I realised that it wasn’t even that so I responded, “ no”. Without hesitation he said “ u nethelwa yi mvula ?” , to which I responded “no” again. He paused for a while and with a stern voice said “tyhini, khanindiphatheleni i sabhokhwe sam  ndizo ku betha lomntwana onomvandendwa”, and to this I sprinted out of the lounge to go find something to do somewhere. 

My grandfather was prepared to whip me because he couldn’t understand why I would at that age even, chose to be sitting alone in a house full of people and street full of kids with many activities to partake in. I had no explanation for that, but I can tell you I still remember the feeling I had inside that day like it was yesterday. I just wanted to be in silence, I wasn’t thinking anything or wishing to be at a different place, I was just in the moment. I had to snap out of it though, and fast because it was something I did very often growing up…….. sitting by myself in silence.

From that day though I was conscious of it and avoided it by all means because I had a new focus point, escaping the whip. U mvandedwa _grieving for yourself isolates you from people. You become that person who is absent in your presence. That person forever asking for space from your partner, or who prefers to be alone most of the time. That person with set patterns and parameters that when invaded makes you feel violated. It makes you an unpleasant person, fussy and you hear people saying, “ no, she’s just particular about how she likes things”, hayi suka, u nomvandedwa!!

You are grieving for a state of being undefined, undescribed, absent, null and void. How do you grieve for a part of you, you don’t know, how do you grieve for a love you’ve never experienced, because even when given the opportunity you won’t recognize?  You are chasing a phantom love a false state of being that exists in your mind, make no mistake the feeling is real but not undefeated when you change your focus point. 

OO siyazi boze bathi unedlozi ungenalo, granted that is some of the signs of having a calling, but not always. Thinking back if my grandparents were looking for signs of intwaso from me, they most probably would have identified that I have a calling. Only they wanted me to be a child fully and go through all my stages. My state was not denied but delayed for a good cause…growth. I went entwasweni at the right time I believe, when I had endured most of life’s teachings  that prepared me to be a healer. Remind me to thank my grandfather should I forget, whether I was cognisant of it or not then or now,  that was a significant event in my life that sped up the solve for X process. Solve for X became living instead of chasing spirits. You see, It is in the living that the spirits settle as and when they should. 

Whether you are grieving loss of a loved one, a love you never had or a part of your being you just can’t explain, the first step is to release. In the release don’t dwell on the why but be mesmerized by the endless possibilities of your surroundings. Seek counsel from your traditional healer if you must, it might be a minor traditional ritual you need to do to help with the release. Take in the love, appreciate the gestures and most importantly be present, accountable and be grateful. Love dissipates when taken for granted because the heart tires, even the love for yourself! Which is what then leads people to substance abuse, depression, and suicide the heart tires and loses the battle with the mind, self-love escapes and people engage in self harm. 

So the next time someone asks you how you are, think about it and respond with, “ I am actively healing” because that is what we do every day, si ya phila.  Remember we come from people who also have scars that needs to heal through the living. We don’t say it in plural for fun, we say it cognitively to heal the thousands of the ten thousands we walk with. 

Some of us just need to change the focus point by just being grateful.  When you meet the likes of us and we greet by saying “thokozani!” indulge us and respond “nge njabulo” ! for it is not only for the sake of sangoma language we do it……we see beyond the naked eye. 

Makwande !!

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