The Mother of All Losses – Adelle Onyango

It’ll be 7 years since mummy died on the 31st of March and I’m writing this while listening to her favourite song – Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba.

“Time can never heal this because time has never had a mother”

Someone shared this quote with me recently. We both don’t know who originally said it but we both agreed that this was true. I call the death of my mum, the greatest heartbreak I have ever gone through. I know everyone thinks that their mum was the best – nope, my mum was. She managed to be my mother, my best friend – at the same time. Even for the over 10 years she battled breast cancer, at no moment did I feel like she’d abdicated those roles. I still don’t know how she did that.

No one could ever have prepared me for grief. Not the cliché “be strong” “take heart” (what does that one even mean). Not the many prayers people promised they were sending my way. Nothing could have prepared me for it. I’ve had to accept that I will always carry this loneliness and nothing/no-one can take that away.

Over the past 7 years I have tried to escape it. By looking for attention in relationships, that ended horribly. By trying to “make” my aunts be more like my mum, that failed too. I’ve had to accept that I will always have this void, this loneliness. I accepted it now because it’s a testament of how real my love for my mum is. Real love doesn’t die and the loneliness is therefore normal. I think when I realized this I stopped trying to reach a point of healing and just allowed myself to feel and accepted the loneliness – painful as it may be.

My reaction to the loneliness evolves probably depending on where I am emotionally at that point but I have also been very intentional about putting together my support circle. This I discovered to be an important thing to do, a year after my mum died and the person I was dating at the time, found me crying (because I missed her) and asked why I hadn’t gotten over it yet. I realized I needed people who would listen to me in silence, not say the shallow cliché responses and most importantly, not make me feel like I was repeating myself every time I broke down about my mum.

What has slipped in now, is anxiety over loosing someone else and having to go through this again. To some extent I’m hesitant to make new friends or get closer to family members because I want to soften the blow their death will bring me. It’s made me constantly tell my husband to drive safe etc whenever he leaves the house. This is a new emotion that I’m struggling to control.

For this 7th year, I recorded a podcast about where I am emotionally with my grief:

2 thoughts on “The Mother of All Losses – Adelle Onyango

  1. Love and light Adelle.

    I feel you since your story is similar
    to mine.

    My mums anniversary is in April and I feel numb.

    Thank you for sharing and making it seem normal to grief as it should be.


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