Posted by: The Saffa Mom | March 25, 2011

Allow grief to happen.

Picture taken from (Lacking Focus)

Maggie is a lady that works in our office, who I have grown incredibly fond of. The coffee that I crave for every morning, is made by her wonderful hands. I sometimes do wish that I could pack her up and take her home, with the coffee machine. She is a Christian girl, who is Tswane….. she therefore has many cultural traditions that have been carried forward through the generations. I don’t necessarily agree to it all, but being in an African country- I need to accept that these things do take place. I may not understand why, however I have no doubt that behind it, these traditions carry some weight.

Maggie and her husband (who was ten years younger) shared two children, and had been married for three years, although together for much longer. She is a wife that has always spoken very highly of her man, which I think is so very precious.

In December, her husband came down with Chicken Pox. I have heard that this can be so much WORSE as an adult than as a child. Maggie nursed her man, and subsequently all her kids came down with Chicken Pox too. (I am sure that house was a ball of fun.)

Her husband however never really got back to himself. He was always tired, and weak. At the end of January, perhaps the beginning of Feb (my dates are completely off memory), on a Monday, she took her husband to hospital because his weakness was past the bearable point. The Tuesday, she didn’t come into work and said that she was spending the day with him in hospital- he seemed on a positive path. Wednesday morning, my assistant called her to find out how things were, and she said that he had passed away. She was heartbroken.

Apparently the Chicken Pox had never really left his system?  

Weeks later Maggie came back to work, and was wearing a black uniform that she had made. Being a predominantly white south African office, we all had so many questions. We were curious, and we wanted to understand.

Maggie would wear this black uniform for a year, and after a year the uniform and everything she had worn with it would be burned. At home I believe things are more relaxed with regards to what she is able to wear. The only response from the ladies in the office seems to be one of “how are you supposed to move on, if you have to look at this ugly depressing outfit every day?”

I have thought long and hard about it. I have wanted an opinion that is not based on an emotions but rather on logic. Over the time I have spent pondering on this, I have begun to believe that this should be the way everyone handles the death of a partner.

It allows EVERYONE around you to realise that you are in a mourning process and that there are limits to the relationships around you.


allowing you to grieve properly. Too many people jump into relationships too soon… and therefore do not become whole once again. A person needs time to find themselves again. Find the person that does well on an individual basis once again. Healing takes time… real time.

The daily ritual allows you to stop worrying about what you will wear on a daily basis, and rather spend that time getting your house in order, sorting out the children- alone vs with the person you used to share those duties with.

It is a sign of respect. It shows the world around how much you respected your partner and that you do think about them on a daily basis.

It shows strangers that you are perhaps a little more sensitive right now, and that they don’t need to ask questions or push for answers. That they do need to treat you with compassion.

Our emotions are things that move up and down every day. We cannot base decisions around them. We would be moving in and out of relationships if we did- on a daily basis, and we would probably have many more divorces in the current divorce rate statistics. Mourning in this way shows that you have set your emotions aside, to do what they need to do, without involving other people.

The reason why I decided to post on this– this morning was because one of the girls in the office asked Maggie “are you not even allowed to wear jeans?”

Maggie answered as strong and confidently as she could. This was not a sad thing. (Although the grieving was.)

People need to understand that you do not just move on. You do not just pack up your feelings, hide them in a closet, and come up with some new positive feelings. You do not just decide to wear pink today, and suddenly be in a pink mood. Although you are comforted by the thought of someone going home, that home is not with you right now. No matter how hard you to try to pretend that it is okay, it will take time to feel that it is really okay.

We live in a society that constantly wants to be seen as optimistic. As positive. We want people around us to be smiling, laughing and just plain happy all the time. Our solution always seems to be one of “finding a solution”, “one of finding the good in the situation.”

Most times I would agree to this. HOWEVER not in this situation.

If this is how we must always think, do we not realise that we do not pass a critical stage in healing? Sweeping everything under the carpet, and packing it all into boxes… only means that eventually (it may be months, years, or decades) it will need to unpacked, sorted and cleaned up. You will also probably be involving new people in that process, who cannot possibly understand all the bits and pieces.      

 In fact, the more I think about this- the more I believe that people who have just gone through a divorce should do the same. They need to experience a grieving process too. A healing. A strong foundation needs to created before someone moves onto a next phase or partnership in life.  

I take my hat off to Maggie, as well as everyone else who consciously makes a decision based on logical reasoning versus emotions, to grieve properly.

There is another side to this…..

If  I passed away, I would like to know that my man has not just shacked up with the next cherry that has shown him some attention. I would like to know that he is allowing my kids to go through the same process, and that they don’t just suddenly have a new “mom” on the scene.

I want to know that I am not “easily” replaceable.

I don’t think any of you are either?




  1. So true ans so profound. My deepest condolences to her….it is never easy loosing anybody every…

  2. Poor Maggie 😦
    I agree with you 100% on this.

    • I almost wanted to show her teh post and everyone’s stunning comments.
      BUt perhaps not.

  3. I agree with your thoughts.
    There is a time for everything, but I don’t know that there are any limits on how long that time is, long or short.

    • You right about time. The issue is we often think we are “healed” much sooner then we really are. Perhaps a year seems like a fair time to ground yourself. I dont know.

  4. That was beautifully written. Beautifully stated and more true than anyone of us ever want to admit. Thank you fo posting that!

  5. That is a fascinating story! Unfortunately although we all somehow instinctively know how to love, when it comes time to grieve none of us know how to do it and most of us stumble through it at our own pace. Great post, interesting now different people and different cultures work through these situations.

    • I actually think we dont work through it at our own pace….. i think we work through it at teh pace that everyone else expects us to. And therefore, do we ever really work through it?

  6. Just gorgeous sentiment. Excellent closing. Thank u

    • Thank you! And thanks for visiting.

  7. Poor Maggie. It is hard to lose the one you love and have shared a life.

  8. What a beautiful post. It reminds me that there were traditions like these when I was a kid living in a mostly Italian family in New York. When my great grandfather died, my great grandmother put black on and wore it for many years. Times have definitely changed. I don’t see people doing that anymore, except for the day of the funeral. But considering that New York is a place where most people where black anyway, it would be hard to tell.

    Thanks for sharing this story. And peace to Maggie.

    • PLeasure! You completely right about how much black we do wear. My wardrobe is filled with black. I actually think i wear something black at least 4 times a week. Haha.
      I think everyone can just say a prayer for her.

  9. I think you’re quite right. And culture is also so strong – I am sure Maggie wouldn’t want to do anything differently anyway. My condolences to her.
    Sunshine xx

    • Thanks Sunshine. I might give her this post to read one day. Just maybe.

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