How tragedy is handled can be a make or break affair for a family, often times, coming with catastrophic consequences.
A number of people who have recently lost their loved ones attest to the fact that grief is one of the most difficult things to deal with. It is worse with the children.

Preparation for family life after death is key
We can never prepare or plan for death. That is a known fact. What is also true, however, is that we can always prepare for the life in the family after the tragedy. Monsignor Gerald Kalumba, a counsellor with Christ the King church says, “we should prepare in all sectors, financially (because we need money in times of grief), physically and psychologically.”
The parish priest’s emphasis is on how we relate and live with each other as this has a bearing on how easily the family copes after the tragedy.

Feel free to talk about the deceased
Uganda Federal Alliance President, Beti Kamya Turwomwe, a widow, has been quoted saying, the most trying moment for her was helping the children move on after losing their father, Spencer Turwomwe.
“It was really hard helping them adapt to every first thing without Daddy. On occasions like birthday parties, school visitations and family functions, they kept saying, ‘Remember when daddy did this….’I understood them and let them be,” she says, emphasising that letting the children talk freely about the deceased is a fundamental coping mechanism.

Enid Nambuya, a 48-year-old mother who lost her daughter shared her tip, “talking to people has helped me overcome the pain. It is more comforting talking to other mothers because you realise you are not alone.”

Give the bereaved time to mourn

t saying, ‘Remember when daddy did this….’I understood them and let them be,” she says, emphasising that letting the children talk freely about the deceased is a fundamental coping mechanism.

Enid Nambuya, a 48-year-old mother who lost her daughter shared her tip, “talking to people has helped me overcome the pain. It is more comforting talking to other mothers because you realise you are not alone.”

Give the bereaved time to mourn
You do not necessarily have to have a word with the bereaved just so he notices you care. “Some members in the family prefer to have this time alone so they can reflect and compose themselves and it is better not to disorganise them,” the monsignor advises.

Holy books and prayers have a healing effect
According to Monsignor Kalumba, once we wholesomely believe and trust in our own energy in times of grief, we fall prey to despair when that energy crumbles.

“It is, therefore, important that we put our faith and trust in the creator for courage and hope to keep the family going,” the cleric urges.
48-year-old Alice Namulwa, the mother to the late Butaleja woman MP, Cerinah Nebanda said, “prayers have kept me going, it is from prayers that I find inner strength and healing.”
The family can still regain that inner strength by jointly reciting chosen verses in the Quran or Bible, for instance, those that give hope after tragedy.

Do not tire to listen
An online source advises thus on paying a listening ear to one another in the family. “Accept what is said and whatever feelings are expressed without criticism or judgement. Do not change the subject. And be prepared to hear the same stories time and again if need be - repetition is part of the healing process.”

Provide support to bereaved children
In extreme circumstances, there is always a tempatation to “hide” children from the scene of grief. Some families take them far away to stay with uncles and aunts till calm returns to the home. This is only escapist and falls short of facing the challenge head on.
The counsellor stresses that children need to be included in the grief of the family and should be allowed to stay in the family home. “I wouldn’t advise them to be shielded from the grief,” she says.

Understand each other’s actions
A website on grief management advises: “Don’t whisk away the clothing or belongings of the deceased or criticise any seemingly morbid behaviour of the survivor.”
It adds that this is just their way of adjusting and grief is a perfectly normal emotional and physical response when we have experienced a significant loss in our lives. The death of someone we love results in emotional responses such as disbelief, anger, guilt, depression and a feeling of emptiness. Physical symptoms can include sleeplessness, loss of concentration, appetite disorders, feeling detached and general numbness.

Bring in a counsellor
If some family members take abnormally long to accept the loss or feel they cannot easily cope, then seeking a counsellor’s intervention comes in handy. Kalumba notes that counselling services are accessible for free in most churches and mosques, so the family should not hesitate to seek emotional shelter there. However, Lois Ochieng, a counsellor with Family Life Network advises that if the member does not feel like joining a support group or attend couselling sessions, do not push them. “Give them time and listen to what they have to say.”

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