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Personal Stories About Life After Loss

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What Does Loneliness Feel Like When Grieving?


We face the feelings of loneliness at various stages of our lives.

One of the most universal emotions is loneliness. I wasn’t surprised that I was going to be lonely when my wife, Chidinma died. What I wasn’t prepared for was how long and intense the loneliness of grieving was.

What is loneliness?

It is ‘having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have.’ What I find as loneliness is the absence of Chidinma’s presence. I remember our wedding vows. “…………to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse.

For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. To love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.” The one person that I shared everything with was ripped from me, parted by death too soon.

African man stands to obverse horses grazing in the field. Grief and Loneliness: What is it like to feel lonely when grieving?

They say earthquakes happen every day and hour, and great earthquakes happen on average once a year. The largest recorded earthquake happened in Chile, 1960 with the shock magnitude of 9.5.

Some called it the ‘megaquake.’ Its terrible impact was reportedly felt about 6,200miles away. That is the distance of flying between London Heathrow airport and Rome seven times.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost loved ones due to an earthquake. I find the earthquake as one example which helps describe my feeling of loneliness. This earthquake that happened to me, was the death of Chidinma creating a million-mile gap separating us.

This emptiness is unbearable, the intense longing for her. Nothing appears to fill this ache of loneliness and gap that sits inside me. Both the physical and emotional pain I feel over this separation is crippling.

The days are long and lonely, and the weekends are lonelier and longer. Like watching a snail crawling along the sidewalk in slow motion. Using waves of its muscular contractions to move across the ground. As it leaves a continuous trail of slime in the wake of its path.

I became physically and emotionally lonely. Chidinma, who enjoyed and marvelled at my awesome inner jokes was gone. My closest confidant with whom I shared a deep mutual bond of affection and trust was gone. Not like ‘gone’ on holiday and will be ‘back soon type’.

Not like ‘gone’ to the shops and will be ‘back soon type’, but like gone forever type.

The type of gone that means I will never again hear her sweet angelic voice. See her infectious smiles. Touch her tender skin. Kiss her beautiful lips, and smell her beautiful scent ‘type of gone.’ The silence of her absence is thick and deafening!

I also became socially lonely. I observed our circle of family and friends put on a brave face. Struggling to accept the rude awakening of my wife, Chidinma’s death. I found myself withdrawn and continued to isolate. It was like seeing myself doing all it can to escape from me. The more I pursued, the further it ran away from me.

A young Black ethnic group couple in their large well spaced kitchen about to have breakfast. Grief and loneliness of losing a loved one

I still think that married couples are the ‘best gossip.’ They develop their language. The unspoken connection language allows them to hold a full decoded conversation across the room. The ability to understand what your other half is saying with one look is also one of the things I miss.

Chidinma, my gossip partner is now gone. I miss the wonderful heavenly choruses that come out of her lungs through her nose when she’s lying asleep beside me.

Each night felt like I was presenting at a board meeting. These board meetings had different directors who chaired each night. Some were gentle, and some were aggressive. The platform for these meetings was being awake, being wide-eyed awake.

The directors of each emotional division were present most nights. Fully dressed in their well dry-cleaned full boardroom attires fully ready. In particular, one of the board members that was always on time and over-prepared for each meeting, who always asked the tough questions was loneliness.

Each meeting had an agenda. I didn’t have access to the meeting agendas until the start of these meetings leaving me little time to prepare. An item on the agenda that I now observe was consistent each night was review.

Oh, if only you know how much I dislike this particular agenda. We would in detail go over the things I wished had been different, better, or more. while at the same time seeing the unrealised hopes, dreams, and expectations about the future. Like clockwork, at least two of the emotional directors would grill me further relentlessly.

I was sometimes rescued by the ‘low and high pitch baaing’ sound of the sheep and lamb which were on the farm. Which is about 500 meters, about an 8-minute leisure walk from our house. I would drift into another thought.

Wondering what these sheep were up to and what they were chatting about in the middle of the night? I would then find myself humming ‘blah blah black sheep, have you any wool…….’

Other times I would be distracted by the loud bass frequency radiating from a car driving pass. Which would attract me to the window. I would stand there for a while staring and puzzled by the different sounds the cars, motorbikes, and trucks made as they drove past.

Front view portrait of handsome African-American businessman looking at camera while relaxing at luxurious hotel lobby, copy space

The board, determined to get the best out of their employee would call my attention back to the meeting to either discuss other items on the agenda or ask further questions on their areas of interest. Envy usually had good questions.

I would find myself in other thoughts asking questions about what’s next. Like a student who is unable to remain focused for an extended period, . I know you’re wondering, Tolu what were some of the questions you were asking?

I was asking questions like, should I have married? I was completely content with singleness. So, what’s going to happen to our children? How will I be able to look after them? Will I still be able to honour the financial commitments we made?

What changes will I need to make? When is the right time to take off my wedding ring? What do I do with Chidinma’s possessions? How do I keep Chidinma’s legacy? Etc……

We would go into a brief recess for 2-3 hours. After which I would wake up and the cycle of grief would continue.

Let me share something beautiful that happened on one of the mornings with you.

I woke up this morning unhappy. I didn’t know being asleep gave me much comfort. This tank of emptiness has begun filling again. Like running the tap into a bottle. The emptiness is just about reaching the brim of the bottle.

I am feeling empty, lonely, and deeply longing for Chidinma. I want a touch from her, perhaps to hold her hand or better still just cuddle. Oh, what a morning.

I began to play *shekere 13.0 on YouTube in the background, hoping it would fill the void and emptiness that I feel. Well, it’s been 3hrs now the tank of emptiness that was full to the brim doesn’t feel like it moved.

I am in my usual morning tears this morning. I am trying to read what other fellow widows and widowers have written. I could feel my heart getting heavier and heavier. I searched through the pictures on my laptop.

I found a screenshot of a facetime conversation Chidinma and I had. I left the picture on the screen. I am in tears as it dawned on me that we would never have another facetime.

Suddenly the door to the room flings wide open as far as it can go! Smacking the wall. Guess who it was, Anisa!!!!!!! What a joy to see her. With her charming smile she ran towards me, climbed our bed, stretching out her hand as far as she could to give me a big hug.

She sees the picture of Chidinma on my laptop screen which now sits on my side of the bed. I have now colonised Chidinma’s side of the bed. Pointing to the screen, Anisa waves and with the widest smile and the sweetest voice says “momma” which is what she calls her. Thinking that I am on a facetime call with Chidinma.

One of the songs Chidinma and Anisa would sing and dance to is the song ‘on my matter by Ada Ehi.’ Anisa’s favourite line from the song is the part ‘today, today, there’s a …….’ Each time Anisa wanted the song played. she would repeatedly gesture pointing her little fingers towards the floor and say “today! today!”.

Seeing momma on the screen she began to gesture for her song “today?! today?!” Before I could respond to her, she then began to ask for “baby shark” showing it to me with the baby shark hand movement.

I told her “Anisa, momma’s dead, momma’s gone, and I miss her so much.” She hugs me again and gives me her favourite brown, mid-side teddy bear, Spenser. She waved at momma as though she was getting off the video call.

Anisa then found my half-empty bottle of tonic water on the floor beside the bed. She wanted to drink it. I didn’t want to share and especially didn’t want Anisa backwashing my drink. She drove a hard bargain and after several negotiations, I asked her to bring a cup from the kitchen downstairs.

Since we now have a deal she is joyfully waltzing towards the door and decided to switch on all the lights in the room. she flings the door to the room wide open again smacking the wall.

She giggles and plays a little while on the landing, flicking the corridor light switch and finally going. She left Spenser who’s still in his swimming nappy to keep me company whilst she’s away.

Did you ask if she returned with the cup? I need to tell you about Spencer, in due course, you will hear more about him.

 I’d love to share your coping with grief story too.

I intend to expand the blog and resources on the website to include stories of other people who have lost a loved one, not limited to losing a spouse. I’d love to hear about how you handled grief. Would you please let me know if you would like to share your story?

I am also open to having anyone anonymised if that’s your preferred option. Complete the contact us form with the text “I would like to share my story.”


  • Shekere 13.0: A musical concert on YouTube

To Be Continued Next Wednesday…

I would like to hear from you. Would you please share your thoughts, comments and reflections below. Thank you.


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