Taking it to God in prayer has helped me deal with the loss of a child
Death can wreak havoc even in the bravest of hearts and Rachel Akugizibwe was not spared when she lost her child. However, it was only the start because although the couple had another child, a premature, several events later made her question her reason for existence. One of these was a strained relationship with her husband which later led to a divorce.
Akugizibwe says the journey thereafter was hard, causing depression. Because of this, she drowned her sorrow in food, partying, and drinking excess amounts of alcohol although this did not embody her character. She was simply trying to cope.
By the time Vessel is Me, a group where women going through the same meet, started, I was a broken person, and its inception was timely; I needed it and meeting other women such as Desire Kecho was a breath of fresh air. I now had people who held me accountable for everything I did. They became my peace, always there, not dwelling on my imperfections but finding the perfect in a mess. They interested me in relating more with God and finding my grounding in Him and through the group. We then started reaching out to other women.
A natural caregiver, Akugizibwe talked to several mothers but during this, she built a wall around her in that while she gave of her time, she never opened herself up to see what was within. On several occasions, her colleagues saw the pain and brokenness in her eyes. Determined to help, during a retreat to Entebbe where they had taken time to seek God, they asked her to let go.
When Nalongo Catherine told me, “Rachel, let go of that load,” I realised there I was holding in too much pain that was clogging my system, pain, brokenness, fear, uncertainty, unworthiness. However, disentangling all this would create pain because I had lost my self-worth.
Akugizibwe is grateful to Nalongo for walking with her because she was candid about the pain that comes with unpacking, ironing out and putting things in different spaces. However, she emphasized the importance of getting to that place because she could not help others without first dealing with her own pain.
God positioned the right people in her life such as Pastor Sarah Segane and Susan Nsibirwa who helped her realise that in order to let go, she had to forgive. Aunt Sue, as she fondly calls her, unveiled that for her. At that point, Akugizibwe got into a place of appreciating herself and learning that whatever had happened was not because life was against her but a journey to iron out her destiny.
She therefore had to separate childhood pain, teen mum pain, pain of having a premature baby, pain of losing a baby, divorce and then deal with each individually. With this, she learned that most of the things wreaking havoc in her life were external and not internal; it was the voices from without – ‘because someone said’. She also understood that when going through tough times, one ought to trust and pray to God during their decision making lest they get weighed down.
Fixing her relationship with God also made it possible for Akugizibwe to understand and appreciate her purpose, lay all her pain at His feet, and separate her pain, which enabled her to have solutions to different feelings. For example, when she misses her baby, she writes her a letter, allows herself to feel the pain, no longer pretending that it did not happen. She also celebrates her baby’s birthday, never explaining herself to anyone. In so doing, Akugizibwe avoids building walls or bottling up emotions.
Losing a child is never easy and getting another does not wipe away that loss. Akugizibwe says she has learned to live with the loss but also found healing in helping other mothers walk through the loss, confusion and pain. I am happy to hear from mothers who conceived after loss and are relating better with the children because when one has not grieved the loss of a child, they will not be able to fully enjoy living with other children.
“My daughter and sons suffered because I had not fully dealt with the loss of their sister. I was an angry and bitter mother but after looking inwards, I started changing despite it being very difficult. I understood who I am rather than who people said I was. I also realised that my children had nothing to do with the loss thus taking time to explain to them what had happened. I let my guard down, even with my house manager, and this has allowed me deal and relate with my children better.’’ “I am thankful that I have grieved, lived through it and can be of help to others, even those with fertility issues. I still have bad days but now, I know that through prayer I am able to talk to my God about all my troubles. With glee, I can say I did it.’’