Nigerian families mourn with each other

We have lived in this particular corner of Canada for almost 18 years, and during our time here, we have been blessed to meet a lot of fellow Yorubas. There is one family that we’ve only known for 3-4 years, but they quickly became my parents’ closest friends. They are practically siblings, if you see the way they care about each other. My father and the man of that family are both from Ondo, while the women are Ilesha girls. They talk on the phone to each other regularly. Basically they have each other’s back, 24/7. When our car was stolen and we needed to transport things, we knew we could count on Mr. O. During various bouts of chronic illness, mostly on my parents’ side, the O family was there for us. And when they suffered a loss of a family member back home, my parents were there for them.

And last Wednesday, they needed us to be there for them: early that morning, their son, their middle child of 21 years of age, passed away in his sleep, less than 3 hours after they last saw him.

This was completely unexpected. There was nothing to make them think that this might be IT. No alcohol or drugs had ever crossed this man’s lips, nor did he hang out in places that might cause one to worry about his safety. I can only imagine the family’s pain and shock.

My father rushed to their home the moment he heard, and my mother left work immediately to join them. My sister and I visited in the evening when we found out. What can you say to a family in that situation? All you can do is hold them, listen to them, and comfort them. Remind them to eat and drink, pray with them, pray for them.

My parents have done all this and more. Since last week they have been going there from work to help them in whatever way needed, often spending the night there with them. I know the nights must be unbearable for this family, and his two sisters who doted on him are still in shock. When somebody passes away under those conditions, you can imagine that there are questions that are asked, and it is wonderful how the Nigerian community has really rallied around to help and support this family.

And this is something I really feel we have that some cultures don’t have. The true sense of community. Generally speaking, oyinbos will stay away from what is likely to be an uncomfortable situation (to say the least): the crying, the wailing the asking of questions, the loud prayers to God, all of it. Instead, they’d prefer to visit when things have “calmed down”. They’ll bring a casserole or flowers when they come to offer their condolences. Some won’t feel comfortable hugging the grieving out of concern that the person doesn’t want to be touched. (Don’t get me wrong sha: I’m not saying they don’t care, they just don’t get as involved, which may be a good thing in some cases, but I’d argue not in this case.) Not so with the Naija community! My mom was cleaning the house and cooking for the family and other people, lying on the floor with the mourning family members, calming down the women when they went into hysterics, basically getting right into it. In moments like this, your friends are practically family, so this is what you do. Other community members were helping make the necessary but heartbreaking arrangements.

The funeral is tomorrow. The parents do not plan to attend, as is our culture, or at least the Yoruba culture. I am not sure why but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that in so many prayers, parents are told they will never bury their child. By not being there while your child is being buried, you’re sort of honoring the prayer. Maybe they will decide to go though, I don’t know.

I would like you to please pray for the O family. There is so much more I could write about this family…you really would not believe what they have gone through since the second day of this boy’s life. He had suffered so much healthwise, but he had been well for three or four years, completely healthy, so this is just a shock. The family is actually in the midst of selling their home in our city to move five hours away to a school that would best accommodate him and now he’s gone.

Rest in peace, Oladiran. You will not be forgotten.

23 thoughts on “Nigerian families mourn with each other

  1. May his soul rest in Peace.

    Africans are different from Oyinbos in that regard. we are more community oriented.

    In yorubaland, parents dont attend the funeral of their kids, also if someone dies in the family, the older ones are not supposed to attend. I dont know the reason though, but i suspect its for the same reason u pointed out above.

  2. OMG that is so sad..

    But yes you are right and that is why I have always said I must marry a Nigerian…we are there for each other…we have a sense of community that seems to be lacking from others..

    May his sould rest in peace

  3. I pray 4 comfort fpr the O family.

    His parents won't attend the burial. According to yoruba tradition u don't attend the burial of your children. As u said it may have something to do with the prayers, n its really a painful thing to bury your own child.

    Having pple supporting you @ a time of need is very important. I think we Nigerians, don't care if we get all over someones when supporting ourselves

    Sorry 4 your loss dear.

  4. men this is so sad to hear..may God comfort the O family during this time. So so sad

    Nigerians even with all our bad side are the best people on earth…yes we have definitely got a good sense of community.

    Was he a sickler?

  5. save news. it is never a good news when somebody so young passes away. Thank God they have your family and other for support. Just being there with them, without having to say anything, is a sign that you mourn with them.

    it is a tradition almost in all the cultures in Nigeria- I cant say all- that parents NEVER attend the funeral of their child.

    Oladiran rest in peace, and in ur absence, may God console your family accordingly

  6. This is sad news. It's always sad when someone so young and with such promising future dies. Although I didn't know him or his family, I am really touched by this. I lost someone young in my family recently.

    May his soul rest in peace and may God be with his family.

  7. This is indeed sad…It almost brought a tear to my eye this morning. I pray God strengthens them at this time of need oh especially those that have helped.

  8. This is so sad! I dont even want to start to imagine how his parents feel. This is why I love my Nigerian culture, and would never stray to far. I almost cried reading this. I'll pray for the family and Pray for yours too. God will continue to bless your parents for being there when this family needed them the most. by the way, do you live in Ottawa?

  9. really terrible newsi must say. May his soul rest in peace and may God grant his parents thefortitude to bear the loss.

    Your parents are truely amazing!!!! thats a true spirit of brotherhood, the eseence of the African society…….i wish everyone could be like that.


    You asked for my blog address….well here it is…….

  10. omg!this is so sad!!!may his sould rest in oeace..and may God be with this family as they go through this hard period!!!

  11. This is really sad. I can't even imagine what the family must be going through. Was there an autopsy to determine cause of death?

    I definitely agree that africans have a stronger sense of community than a lot of other cultures. Asians and Africans are known to be collectivist or community based cultures, while the American culture is individualist. So it's not surprising that they would react to mourning that way.

    It's not only the yoruba culture that the parents don't attend a child's burial. We also do it in the Edo culture and it's for the exact reason u stated. We are not meant to bury our children, it should be the other way around.

    May God grant the family the grace and fortitude to bear their loss. I really can't imagine.

  12. I will definetly pray for them.

    This is a heavy suffering to contend with. The loss of one of their children. He's my age as well – 21 – and I can't imagine dying in my sleep and leaving my family to wake up to such a thing.

    But you know, you were right when you said this:

    And this is something I really feel we have that some cultures don’t have. The true sense of community.

    We do – as Nigerians (born in raised there or here by default of our parents), have a deep sense of community. We stick together and love one another. I really do hope that they can take comfort in the love and support of you and your family – their extended family.

  13. I agree with everyone's sentiments that this is sad and must be a horrible loss for the family. I can only imagine what they are going through. I will pray for them, and hope that God will see them through this tough and trying period.

  14. I pray for God's grace and His overwhelming presence to be with the family at this time…Oladiran is missed….And thank God for family friends like your folks and other members of the Nigerian community that are helping them cope at this time.

  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I will definitely say a prayer for him as well as his family.

    I also find it interesting how some cultures/families are much more connected to the ancestral culture than others. My family is from Hong Kong. I don't know if it's the colonial culture or what, but I've found that my family (and even some extend fam and friends) just aren't that Chinese (hey, brides wear WHITE!). I read guide books about non-Chinese couples who adopt kids from China and always think they're going overboard with the culture.

  16. My condolences to you and the O family. I pray that God will give them the strength to bear the loss. They will be dealing with so many questions and so much grief, especially when it was so sudden and unexplained. May God be with them.

  17. My condolences to you and the O family. I pray that God will give them the strength to bear the loss. They will be dealing with so many questions and so much grief, especially when it was so sudden and unexplained. May God be with them.

    Thank God they are not alone, that they have a family like yours to help them as much as humanly possible.

  18. May his soul rest in peace I pray for God to be with you all during this time. Thank God for you guys and the support that you've been to them….

  19. Thank you all. I'm sure these are part of the prayers that are keeping the family going through this difficult time.

  20. My prayers go out to Diran's family; may his soul rest in peace.

    But try not to paint all oyinbo's with the same brush sister; many Middle-eastern and Eastern cultures have the same sense of community where they do not shy away from getting involved.

    I am seriously enjoying your posts! :)

Comments are closed.