Grief - an African lesson

 

 

This is Rosemary. My other mother. I’ve known her for over 30 years.

She's given birth to 9 children.
She's buried 4.
She is Zulu.

And how she grieves moves me profoundly.

When a loved one passes, Rosemary is placed in a special shared room within her humble homestead.
For a week she will stay here.

All of her needs are met by her sisters, aunts, daughters and grandchildren.

She is bathed.
She is given food and water.
She is supported.

Everyone in her village comes to see her.
And she weeps.
Cries.
Sobs.
Howls.
Aches.
Feels.
Processes her pain.

She's given full permission to be with her loss...unapologetically.
She is fully connected to her feelings.
She allows her emotions to be whatever they need to be.
She is vulnerable and raw and messy and true and loud and real.

Then, after a week, it's time for the burial. The body of her loved one is carried in by casket and placed by her side.

And she weeps.
Her people hold her.
They never leave her.

The funeral can last for hours.
Everyone is present.

They bring food, gifts or money.

After her loved one is buried on her homestead, Rosemary is then taken to a river.
Here she strips down naked and immerses herself in the water.
Her mourning comes to an end.

She then wears a special colour daily for 3 months.
This signifies that she is grieving.

Long after the funeral has passed the memory of her loved one is kept alive by ceremonial festivities each year. The Zulu's celebrate the life of their lost ones.

I think we can learn so much about grief and trauma release from Rosemary and her people.