Ida’s Story Part 2: A Lesson in Grieving

“These are the troubles that have come to your friends.”

Ida’s husband told me one morning when I asked him why I had missed two calls from Ida the night before and now she was not at home.

There had been a bad accident. Ida’s twelve-year-old brother had been riding a bicycle with a friend when car swerved toward them. The other boy managed to jump off the bike, but Ida’s brother was hit hard by the car. Ida ran almost a mile to meet him at Mulago Hospital where she found him badly mangled and barely alive. Ida had tried to call me from the hospital, thinking that maybe I could help. She loosely knew that I worked for a medical institution and was desperate. Unfortunately I was fighting another sinus infection and had fallen asleep and did not hear my phone.

If I had heard her call, I could not have helped. Even in an American hospital the boy would have had a very small chance of survival, and in Uganda’s largest public hospital there was little that the doctors could do. Shortly after admittance he passed away.

“These are the troubles that have come to your friends.”

The news hit me hard. Life for Ida and her family was already so hard, unwanted tragedy seemed brutally unfair. And I felt at a complete loss for what to do.

So I turned to my cultural mentors – the girls at work – and asked them how to grieve with Ida. Their advice was that David and I should visit Ida, not just pass by on my way home from work, but really visit her. We should let her talk for as long as she wanted about her brother and then sit with her in silence if that is what she wanted. At the end of the visit we should give her a little bit of money to help her with all of the unexpected costs of a death – phone calls to family members and transport to the burial.

Their advice was exactly right. Ida was so happy that we both made time to visit her. She talked for a long time about her brother – about the accident, the gap he left in her family, how her mother was handling it, and how smart of a kid he had been. She told us that he had saved up all of his money from collecting scrap metal to buy himself the bicycle only a week before the accident. She told us how lonely she feels sometimes and how being around people eases her pain. She said all of this without crying. After we gave her the money she knelt down as a sign of extreme thankfulness to us and asked us to keep praying for her.

I thought about the times of grief in my life – the deaths of both of my grandpas and the tornado. I needed exactly what had been prescribed by the girls. Someone to listen to me, sit with me, and even give me things – food, money, a place to sleep. So I was happy to provide that to someone else, to be able to say:

“These are the friends that have come to your troubles.”

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3 responses to “Ida’s Story Part 2: A Lesson in Grieving

  1. Since I had started the last Ida story, I had to continue with this one. I just realized I don’t know anything about your grandpas or the tornado, so many stories about people and very few ever really get to know them.

  2. Thank you so much, Faith. This is so beautifully written, and such a poignant lesson. I am so glad that you were able to be there with Ida-your co-workers are very wise. Please tell her that I am also praying for her.

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