Holding Onto Hope Through Death

hope through death
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya

There seems to have been a misconception passed down from generation to generation, from all races, sexes, and religious beliefs. That misconception is if you are a good person, good things will come your way. So, we set out to do the right thing, carrying our morals as a shield to protect us from harm’s way. And when the storm rages, we collapse and ask the universe, “but why?! I’m a good person!”

The hard truth with this life is the storm will rage against you regardless of how good or bad you are. Life is a series of random and ‘meant to be’ moments. For some of us, we will experience the harsh weight of having loved ones ripped from us; we will know all too well what grief does to our soul, heart, mind, and life. And just when you think your life has settled, life will take away another loved one.

I lost a brother in 2011; the autopsy called it a diabetes death in bed syndrome.

A sister in 2015 to ackee fruit-induced hypoglycemia.

My dad and step mum were visiting Nigeria when a careless young driver ran into them. They were on the pedestrian walk. This was 2016.

And now, in 2021, I lost my mum.

My story is filled with more death than anyone I know. At 34, in the space of ten years, I have experienced grief five times on four occasions.

Life is a series of randomness and moments meant for you, but I don’t know which category these deaths fall into. Death will make you think it was something you did to deserve it, but life is not about punishing or rewarding you. We are not seen as petulant children who need to be smacked down for things we have done in the past and rewarded when we act like the half-decent human beings that we are.

I believe in God—Source, the Universe, the Great Goddess, whatever name you align with. But this has both comforted me AND confused me.

My faith has helped me see that there is more than what this life brings; there is hope that goes beyond what I have faced and will face. But confusion has risen because I no longer think of life as this vast open land of happiness. I see it as a place of opportunity, a land where beautiful memories are created and we develop as people. But also as a place where trauma will knock you off your feet and remind you that absolutely nothing is guaranteed.

It’s from that lens I return to the comfort of knowing that my eyes will have to see beyond the misery that lies before me. That even in the center of chaos, light can be present.

This is not a shallow, let’s-pretend-everything-is-okay message. I want you to know that my heart has been, and is, broken in a way I didn’t think was possible.

Losing my mum came before I was ready—not that anyone is ever ready. I thought we had twenty more years. I thought she would be here for all my big moments, the big moments that are coming. I have known what it is like to be abandoned by parents, to feel alone and lonely, to have no hope. To feel unloved. I know how cruel this world can be.

But I also know that in the past ten years of this grief episode, I have known love. I have seen my purpose. I have found my place and worked hard to understand my past, and I believe that my future is filled with a purpose beyond my limited vision.

I hold both deep misery and deep love in my heart. That is my history, my present, and my future.

God did not promise me an easy life, a good life, or even a bad life. All I know is there is another world where there is no suffering, and that is where my hope is placed. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. My brain is now wired to expect the harsh blows of life. In this moment of grief, I struggle to hold onto the kind of hope I had before. My therapist told me recently that I can survive this.

So yes, you can survive this. Whatever you’re facing. And maybe one day it will go beyond surviving, and it will turn into thriving. I don’t know, but a small part of me still holds onto that kind of hope.

When you want to scream and ask why you, remember that life sometimes turns from a paradise into a battlefield. Let’s not ask why but instead, let’s both look for the light and acknowledge how unfair it feels.

We can survive this. And one day, we will realize that we took our battle wounds and used them as evidence of how we held both hope and misery in our hands… and hope won.

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