COVID-19 has sadly left many widows in its wake. How can an African widow change her own narrative? For the next three weeks, my friend, Gracious Chifamuna, will be writing her thoughts on this subject. Her words are below.
In Africa, widows go through a lot of hardship that stems from the society, family (especially the husband’s side) and from tradition. The core of the movement is centred around three questions. Today I will try to unpack the first question: How can a widow facilitate change in her own narrative? The first step: mourn the real loss-the loss of a husband. Sadly in most African cultures, widows are not given the opportunity to mourn their real loss-I will try to suggest a few things in my third article. Also, in some cultures a widow’s mourning period is defined, which is good in my opinion but sad in that there are lots of rituals that some widows must go through.
Another question is what if after the said time one is not ready? Who must determine the mourning period? My bias: a widow needs to define her mourning period and she must never hold on to grief. My challenge for every widow is to meditate on 1 Samuel 16-where God had to ask Samuel: How long will you mourn for Saul? Accept and embrace the change of status-wife to widow. The change of status calls for a need to redefine oneself. It’s hard. Simple, yet deep questions like who do you want to become, what is my new purpose, goals, etc? Decide who you want to become, commit yourself to it and follow through as the Lord leads.
Ruth is a perfect example: she decided, made a commitment (verbally) and followed through. Her commitment was to be with Naomi. We see her working hard, in a foreign land to take care of her mother-in-law. Anna as well in the New Testament, she dedicated her life to praying and fasting after losing her husband. It’s a process. Be firm in your faith. In Africa the issue of ancestral worship is a big deal, it’s easy when you lose your husband to doubt God. Not only that: family and friends can put pressure and in some cases a widow is left with no choice but is dragged to go and consult other gods. Two of my relatives suggested to me that I needed to consult other gods: I told them: NO. Like Naomi I chose to say, it is God who made my life bitter and added my own words: it is Him who will make it sweet again.
Stand on God’s Promises. Make decisions based on His promises. Trust God for what He can do. Being a widow doesn’t disqualify us from trusting God, in fact remind yourself that you are so dear to God. Don’t fall into a trap of trusting man and promises. I almost fell into that trap-in my early days of grieving.
Don’t expect the whole world to stop living because of your loss-that is not practical, don’t expect everyone to stay with you on your grief journey, remember you are mourning your husband, others are mourning a friend, a brother etc. Yours was a special covenant. Own and embrace your special loss. Sadly, you can’t also share the impact of that loss except with God. Forgive those who might have hurt you especially during the funeral. In Africa during the funeral a lot happens. Sometimes people can say the most hurtful and piercing words (intentionally and unintentionally) whilst you are at your weakest point and these can stay with you for life. Decide to forgive and healing will take place. Where necessary, be bold and engage with anyone who might have hurt you during the funeral.
Above all, make a commitment to always maintain an intimate relationship with God. I would recommend an increase in the time you used to spend in reading the word and pray-this has worked wonders for me. Remember He is not just God but your Husband/Defender and Father of your children.
Yes, the narrative of an African widow can be changed, and it will start with me as a widow. Join me next week as I share my thoughts on how can a widow help a fellow widow in changing the narrative of an African widow. Ashley Thaba is a popular motivational speaker, family building facilitator, author and Producer of the hit TV show, Talking with the Thabas, which has strengthened thousands of marriages and helped countless families become stronger. Learn more about her work at www.ashleythaba.com or view her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba. You can buy three of her books: Dive In, Making Marriages Fun, and Conquering the Giants on her website. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Facebook: Talking with the Thabas.