MARILYN ANONA writes: No one prays to lose their husband… But if it happens, what will you do? (WIDOWS)


Its a very terrible experience losing someone very close and dear to you. Losing a mum, a brother, sister, husband, wife, close friend etc is not an easy thing to deal with. I lost my mum a year ago and till this time, I still cry and cry when I remember all the time we spent together and the thought that I will never see her again is so hard to bear. The death of a loved one Is one of the hardest blow life can give you.
Have you ever thought of a young woman of say 20 years old, who got married and then after a kid or two, her husband dies! Have you thought about a young man of 28 years old who got married and at 30 years his wife dies… Death is painful and death is death but if I am asked to grade, I would say this is one of the hardest things in life. The trauma is huge and except for the grace of GOD! It takes a long time to get over. Nobody will ever wish to be in the shoes of a young widow or widower. Its a terrible experience.
I want to talk about the widows today. The widows in our society especially the young widows and those who already have so many kids with their husbands and cannot remarry as a result. For the young ones who are still very young and can remarry, its just a phase. But during that time a lot happens. Anyone who pretends not to know that widows in Nigeria really go through hell is evil.
Its bad enough that you lost your husband and then the family members won’t let you have peace! They make it seem from their actions even if they don’t say it that you are a bad omen, you killed their son or their son died because he is married to you. They don’t think the other way round… They don’t think the woman may also feel that if she had not married their son, she would not have been in these shoes! Well, human beings are always towing the path of convenience.
The man who you have dreams with just left suddenly without a notice. Could be an auto crash or armed robbers taking his life away without giving you the chance to at least tell him sorry, hold his hand and say good bye… Then his family members who should be your backbone start treating you harshly. Something they will not do if your husband was around. This change is so hard to understand and even harder to deal with.
You wonder why it should be you. “Why me? Why me?,” you lament and cry every night with confusion and despair on the bed that once brought you bliss and hope.  You fight with reality and wish it’s all a dream. But it never seems to go away.  It’s real.  It’s your reality, an unpleasant, heart wrecking reality…
When the burial day comes, all sorts of drama start! She must cut her hair to “Sankodo or gorimakpa or mala”. She must carry Sand and put in the grave as a sign that she doesn’t have a hand in her husband’s death. Kai! I even learnt that in some culture, the woman would clean the dead body and made to drink the water… What kind of thing is this?
When the burial is over, the main issue arises… The man’s family will want to dispossess the woman of everything. This is a woman who was properly married (traditionally and in the church). This woman has kids already for the man before he passed and we all know that in such cases, there is hardly a will. So how does this woman raise the kid or kids as the case may be? She is left to fend for them alone while her husband’s people take everything her husband had before he suddenly passed. What a shame!
In most Nigerian communities, widowhood represents a “social death” for women. It is not merely that they lose their husbands often the main breadwinner and supporter of their children… but widowhood denies them of their status and remit them to the very margins of society where they suffer the most extreme forms of discrimination, stigma and deprivation. And I ask, does anyone ever wish to be a widow? A young woman who isn’t up to 30years old called me yesterday and told me a little of what she passed through and is still passing through. Her husband passed like 4years ago… She had 2 kids already with him. She wasn’t working at the time and he suddenly died. Her husbands people took everything and she had to go back home to her parents house with her kids. Since the man died and till now. They have not bothered to ask about their son’s kids. She has started working now and is now fending for these kids all alone. She is a really strong woman now and I am glad she picked up.
Another young woman who is called Ifeoma shared her experience with me… her husband’s people said she killed him.  She was forced to drink the bath water from the corpse to prove her innocence.  She was forced to shave her hair entirely and wear black mourning clothe for a month during which time she was locked indoors.  “I was made to sit naked on the floor for a week without bath with the corpse,” she said, amidst.  “I was humiliated.  I was disgraced,” she said! Very heart breaking.
Its a man’s world! Nobody accuses a man when his wife dies, but when its a man who dies, the woman is accused! It should not be so.
That is why I always talk about a woman being empowered. A woman making sure that she is fully independent even in marriage. Getting married isn’t a passport to relax entirely. Getting married isn’t all about forgetting yourself and making gossiping from one neighbour’s house to the other your career.
No one prays to lose their husband… But if it happens, what will you do? How will you cope if you are so unfortunate to have bad in laws and you have nothing to boast of as a person? Will you be that widow who will die as soon as your husband dies making you kids orphans? Will you be that widow who will resort to prostitution to be able to make ends meet? Or will you be that one who will stand tall and firm no matter the situation and fit into her husband’s shoes so that when he looks from his grave he will be happy?
For the very young widows, widowhood should not be a status especially when you don’t have many kids. You can marry again and have a new life. For the older widows, GOD will give you the grace to function as a father and a mother to your kids.
Women, let’s be useful to ourselves… If you are married and your husband is well to do… Let him start up a business or something for you. Don’t just fold your arms and become a full time “ORI AKU”. Even if he is not well to do, don’t fold your arms still! Look for something to do…
Be Useful! Be Empowered
Be Enlightened! Be Inspired!! Be Motivated!!!
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  1. OMG! Dis is sad. Y dese babaric tradition it’s very bad. So dese dosent affect the widowers? Y d widows? Pls the govt should take dese issues seriously, such cases should be reported. Haba! Dis is unfair! What sort of useless

  2. I perfectly relate with what you wrote because my mum passed through hell and high water in the hands of her in-laws when my dad died. The immediate solution is for men to plan their future with the reality of death in mind. Write wills, use your wife and kids as next of kin and buy properties in their names for no one knows tomorrow. And you cannot say you trust these extended family members enough to entrust your wife and children in their care.
    forgive my long epistle o, na as e dey me for body

    • Eby thanks for your contribution, and its not an epistle too. *smiles* yes, we should all plan ahead. Most of these things happen suddenly. Have a great day dear.

  3. God bless you for this write up. You have said it all dear….praying for all the widows going through hard times may God strengthens you and give you the grace to pull throgh. Amen

  4. It’s painful and horrible when you read tales of how widows are treated by certain cultures after the passing of their husbands. It’s incomprehensible, inhuman. A good piece.

  5. Hmmmm…..I’m so speechless.,for this is what our widows are made to go thru regardless of d pain of loosing a husband…this is most common in our Igbo communities, its truly d hieght of inhuman & so disheartening….The earlier we rise up against this bullshit the better for us all, cos U never can tell where next d wind of mishap will blow…
    Nice1 Posh Marilyn…U speak d mind of the poeple….thumb ups!!!

  6. It’s very sad. I hear these things and I wonder why people act the way they do, it is just plain evil. God forbid it happens, I pray God give one the strength and capacity to move on. The man should always make ‘alternative’ plans for emergencies like this. I know people who buy and build their businesses in their children’s names.

    Husbands should always consider their wives and children and ALSO parents should consider their children incase something were to happen to them ( the parents). You don’t have to be old to have a will, it shows your beneficiaries interests at heart.

  7. Thank u so much 4 this write-up. Lots of women go through hell when their husbands are no more. Women shld try to empower themselves. If ur hubby does nt want u to work, go n learn a handiwork, it wl b useful tomorrow. Most men give their wives monthly allowances n all they do with it is buy clothes n shoes, no savings. Haba! She could fall back on her savings in this situation. Probably open up a petty trade n make progress.

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