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Home » How Grief Cripples | Obinna Tony-Francis Ochem

How Grief Cripples | Obinna Tony-Francis Ochem

While reading Chimamanda Ngọzi Adichie’s Notes on Grief, I became emotional. Goosebumps enveloped my skin as I remember my own loss. 

It was disheartening learning about her death, my Uncle’s wife, Nkoli. She had stayed with us briefly when she was newly married and was like a friend to me even though she was far older than me. She was in her twenties. She was chubby, puffy-cheeked, and had an enchanting smile that accentuated her beauty. She was full of dreams like me and often urged me to be serious with my studies. I was eleven then, a little boy. She told me different stories about her growing up. She always had many tales to tell. Her voice was calm. When I learned about her death, I grieved badly

The night before the news of her demise, I would suddenly wake up from my sleep and sense an ominous presence right at the corner of my room. It was as if someone was watching me. I got scared; my skin crawled and my body ached. I could not sleep back no matter how much I wanted to. I feared the night would swallow me the minute I shut my eyes. Later the next day, when I learned that my uncle’s wife is dead, I thought she had been the one in my room the night before.

As I read Chimamanda’s essay, I remember her burnt body. As I write this, my eyes are filled with tears. My head throbs. They said high tension wire fell on her and a few others at a market in Lagos. It was shortly after a heavy rain. She fell and died on the spot. She died with her unborn child.

During her burial rites, I saw my Uncle cry for the first time. He cried profusely. “Death, what have you done?” he lamented. In the afternoon, he wore a dark shade to cover his swollen eyes. I hate that grief weakens people. Such an intangible thing that makes one frail.

It’s been about twelve years since her passing, yet I mourn her every day. I wish I know how to stop grieving. I want to stop hurting but this grief never-ending.


Obinna Tony-Francis Ochem is alumni of the Lolwe Fiction Workshop facilitated by Zukiswa Wanner and SpringNG ’20 cohort writing mentorship programme. His works are published or forthcoming on Elseisy Blog, Kalahari Review, Rustintimes, LivingFreeUk, Punocracy Longlist ’19 & 20, Tush Magazine essay finalist and winner, Chinụa Achebe Essay Anthology, SpringNG anthology, and The WorkBooth magazine. A finalist for Kalahari Review Igby Prize for Non Fiction. Also, a finalist for the ’19 Quramo Writers’ Prize for his manuscript, Deep Ocean, and Afire ’19 Linda Ikeji Prize for Literature, for Living in the Ghetto. He tweets, @obynofranc.