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  • Writer's pictureChef Nii

Do I Change My Name?

Updated: Dec 10, 2023


Grief did me dirty! To show up again this year, now that’s wild! Grief is so weird! In one breath you are superb; fabulous, in full control of self, and in another breath you are a total mess, with everything becoming a trigger. A smile, a hearty laugh, a deep sigh, all triggers. Then we have the formation of memory clouds, so heavy they fall in droplets,  pushing past your eyelids and running down your face. Grief is no respecter of the person, grief is no respecter of the place, grief is no respecter of the time, GRIEF IS A BOSS!

That life altering call, seemed like a facade, it wasn’t…real, so life just went on. There were times when out of curiosity I would call his phone; no response and, that was ok, for my father almost, always had his data switched off and only turned it on when he needed to, so for me that didn’t mean a thing. But then it will hit me at work and all i could do was take multiple bathroom breaks for private moments, so the bathroom floor of all places could catch memories enclosed in droplets that were breaking past my eyelids. It hit me on the train and i had to make multiple stops for private moments on public benches, pulling my hoody over my head i would wait, or at home where it hit me the hardest, resulting in a lot of missed calls, I would lay down and wait, so the train platform or my pillow could catch these droplets.

Did i mention planning a funeral is hard? Every action a mere stir of a pot full of emotions, opinions, misunderstandings, a pot full of fear, sadness, exhaustion and any action taken only stirs the pot, causing it to overflow, spilling over and messing up everything. Thus by the time I was heading home for  the  final funeral rights i was finished, exhaustion had swam its way to the top of the pot of my emotions, hence my goal heading home, was to perform my duties, get it all over with as quickly as possible, then come back and grieve. But I didn’t anticipate coming back to grieve in solitude, by myself…I didn’t anticipate this.

Did i mention funerals are expensive? Everything costs money, Everything! Which is not even as fascinating as people seeing your grief and pain as an opportunity, an opportunity to take advantage of you to enrich themselves. From the guy at the cemetery duping us, leaving us with no grave two days prior to the burial, to aunties and uncles we were only finding out about making unrealistic demands. What on earth is a “Union Jack Flag?” Even in death there is a list? There is a list!

Did i mention?  For a man who wasn’t traditional this definitely is a lot,  that we were to be blamed for not knowing what was customary was laughable? For who then was to do the teaching? So we have a family house? There is a family head? He decides when we bury? He suggested next year? Will he pay the mortuary fees? There is a list of items for each child? Who is supposed to buy them? Me? There are customary rights for each child? Widowhood rights? Wait! What about what we want? Do we not have a say? making demands…taking… They have taken so much from us!!! So much!!!

Yet that was still not enough…for not  being able to fulfil all demands, the eve of the said day they banished us, annulled a marriage, the day before we buried our father, her husband they took his name from us… Is that even possible? Even in death their hands are still wide open…they are still taking from us. So what do now?

Do I change my name...

Did i mention? All of this on the other hand  brought us closer together as a family, the past mended, with new memory clouds forming. We lost a family but we have gained another, our village expanded, for many have stood with us, many have sat with us, many have cried with us, many have held us, many have taken care of us. Many have fought and continue to fight for us, our family has grown.

Did i mention, catching up with my older brother on progress, we got to the selection of the casket and these were his exact words “What do you think?” You see for me it didn’t matter, for it was going into the ground anyway, so my response “I don’t really care, its going into the ground anyway” shattered him. Grieving for him meant providing the best, so when he went into a tangent of explaining the essence of his choice and the reason for the type of wood, all i kept hearing was “My grieving process is carefully selecting every piece, my grieving process is being particular of every fine detail, my grieving process is providing the best, my grieving process is to honour my father”. From that moment on, all i did was validate his decisions, and assure him he had gone above and beyond anything i could have imagined, I couldn’t have done it.

Did i mention? My mother and sister were different, they just required the gift of presence and most importantly the ability to listen, when they were having moments and needed to talk, its funny how for the first time in my life I struggled to leave my mother at home when i needed a break from it all and needed to get away for a bit. To have lost sight of the fact that we were all grieving differently would have only mean a lot of things would have been left unsaid, and feelings would have been hurt.

I was determined not to cry, for a lot had been taken from us and I wasn’t going to willingly give them  my tears too, i had this secured in the bag until the final viewing. I walked into the room and there he was, sleeping, all the worry, the lines on his face gone. All the creases from fighting, fighting for property that belonged to his  family and at the end fighting for his life which aged him quickly, but in that moment it looked like he had been put in a time Machine, which had erased all those difficult years, and had brought him back to us younger.

At that moment i was young again  and looking into the face of my father, waiting for those reassuring eyes, waiting for him to say it was all a joke. Waiting, so we could finally go home, but those eyelids remained firmly shut, it was at that moment that it all sunk in…He is indeed gone...

Did I mention?  Funerals drain you, did I mention funerals test you, did I mention funerals change you? It puts life into perspective, it causes you to view life with a mindset just a few would understand, the select few who have lost a loved one too. I believe to understand loss, you must go through it, until you have lost somebody it is impossible to understand what one needs during that period, a lot of the relevant actions in hindsight came from others who had suffered loss too.

The food they bring because hunger is a feeling that finds it extremely hard to break past all the pain you are feeling and doesn’t make it to the surface to be dealt with, so you go for days without haven’t eaten anything which results in a lot of weight loss, I mean you barely have an appetite anyway.

The money they gift you, for with experience they know burying a loved one is expensive and since death dooesn’t make an announcement before it shows up, most of the time you are unprepared for it.

Checking in regularly, even when you say you are ok, for they know you will have your moments, for showing up when you thought you wanted to be alone, so you will not be left with your thoughts of what could’ve or should’ve have been. Dragging you out of the house for some fresh air or even dragging you into the shower…The little things.

So for the calls I never made and the texts i never sent, for the contributions i never made and the meals I never ordered,  for the hugs i never gave and the time i never made, all little things which then seemed like nothings, but upon hindsight have come to mean everything I apologise. I sincerely apologize for i get it now…

The Sun...Sunshine and Sunflowers...

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Dec 11, 2023

Very beautiful piece. It truly captures the emotions and experiences a person goes through when they lose a loved one in Ghana. God bless


Beatrice Offei
Beatrice Offei
Dec 11, 2023

This is very touching and everything you have said is true. God bless you.


Dec 09, 2023

Thank you for baring your heart to us. ❤️ May your healing continue, even through these words

Chef Nii
Chef Nii
Dec 09, 2023
Replying to

Thank you

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