Coping with Bereavement
The first person I knew closely and lost
to death was my 19-year old cousin,
Deji was an amazing human being!
I know people tend to say this of those
that have passed but I am sure everyone
who came in contact with him can
corroborate this truth!
He was very easy going and was liked by
everyone to my knowledge.
He was a model child and gave his
parents no trouble!
He was very brilliant and won numerous
awards in secondary school.
I think we first bonded over the fact that
he told me he also wanted to study
Elect/Elect Engineering at the University
of Lagos as I was doing at the time.
He changed his mind and ended up
studying Accounting at UNILAG, and
he had a first class CGPA before his illness.
I remember when my mum told me
he had Leukemia - cancer of the bone
A few weeks to his exams, he had
complained about severe pain and was
taken to LASUTH hospital when he wasn’t
He was diagnosed with Anaemia at the
time and admitted into the hospital.
But despite all the medication he was
being given, his condition wasn’t
I went to see him in the hospital and
we talked and laughed over what now,
I cannot remember.
It was on my way out with my mum
that she told me the doctors found out
later that he had Leukemia not Anaemia
and would need to be flown to the
abroad for better treatment.
His parents did not tell him this until
after he traveled.
I did not understand how a healthy
and brilliant 19-year old boy could be
diagnosed with Cancer out of the blues!
Leukemia is hereditary but there’s no
history of the illness in his parents’ lineage.
I was a bible reading fanatic at the
time so when I stumbled on the
scripture that says of Lazarus’ illness
in John 11:4 KJV “This sickness is not
unto death, but for the glory of God,
that the Son of God might be glorified
I latched onto it as my word for Deji
and was fully convinced he wasn’t
going to die from the illness- instead
he would get well and God would use
his recovery to win many souls for him.
And so I asked his mum for his email
address and sent him encouraging
I would ask for him to be prayed for
at my house fellowship.
I sowed a seed of thanksgiving for
his recovery at church.
I would wake up in the middle of the
night to praise God with singing and
dancing in gratitude for healing him.
And then one morning in April 2012,
while I lay on my mum’s bed, she
received a phone call that made her
gasp in horror!
At the end of the phone call, I asked
her what was wrong and she replied:
“Deji ti ku” (Deji is dead).
It takes a while for bad news to hit
me so I closed my eyes like I did not
understand what she said.
And then I started to think “Oh maybe
wanted to do an even bigger miracle
of resurrection instead of just healing”.
And then I remembered I had a relative
who wasn’t really doing well as he’d
dropped out of secondary school and
was in his late 50s at the time.
I am ashamed to say the thought that
came strongly into my mind and refused
to leave was “why did he not die
instead of Deji. Deji had such a promising
future in front of him while this man
didn’t seem to be making much out of
Why should God keep him alive and
let Deji die instead?
Why not take his life and let Deji live?”
For weeks after his death, I was so
angry at God! I believed he was wicked
and had deceived me by sending me
that scripture of Deji’s sickness not
being unto death. I couldn’t pray and
my faith was very badly shaken!
It was my house fellowship members
that helped me heal during this period.
I remember going to see his family with
my mum and I couldn’t even say a word.
I just sat on my chair, cleaning the
stupid tears that refused to stay back
in my eyes and thinking what a strong
woman my aunty, his mum was.
I had forgotten about this incident
until a few weeks ago when I read a
book about a young mum who lost
her only son at age 5 in a freak accident.
At his burial, she was so angry at the
normality with which people were
talking and eating while she grieved
the loss of her son.
And when her eyes fell on her
Who had undergone procedures that
no one believed he would survive,
she wished he had died instead of
And that’s when it hit me that wishing
other people dead instead of the loved
one you just lost is an absolutely normal
reaction to grief! It doesn’t mean you’re
playing God and believing you get to
choose who lives and who dies, it just
means you miss your loved one and
want them alive and well.