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Dealing with Death

Dealing with Death

I have been, at the time of writing this piece, in Nigeria for about 3 months. Yes it has already been the amazing, weird, wonderful challenge I had hoped for, however there is one aspect of my life here that I hope I never become accustomed to, and that is dealing with death. I could sit and research the mortality rate or life expectancy rate for Nigeria, Cross River State or even Obudu Mountain, but to be honest it is not a fact I want in my little head. But what I do know, is that I have never in my life, experienced so many sad news mornings.

A short while ago, just after the start of my second month in Nigeria, I was informed of the death of a sister, a young lady who had a number of relatives in my team at the hotel. She was the tenth individual who had passed away since I arrived here. 10 lives, cut short, and life goes on. Here death is just another part of life. Now I know the old phrase that there are only two things in life that are certain, one of which is death, but really, it is everywhere, it is regular, and thank god it still hurts me, even when I am not directly connected.

Because death is such a regular occurrence the way the locals deal with it is quite scary for me. Now please do not read me wrong on this one, but the attitude to death is so matter of fact, almost cold, and unmoved, that for me it is horrid. A member of my staff can lose a sister, brother, father or mother, and still be in work on that day. And as shocking as that may sound it is something that has happened more than once during my first few months.

After just a few days in Cross River I termed a word, “Nigerianise”, and yes I know it is not a real word. But what I mean by it is to become a Nigerian, or do something in a real Nigerian way, deal with something in such a way. And dealing with death is something that I hope I never, ever, Nigerianise. I know you have to live according to your environment, the local culture etc. and so while I am privileged to live and work here, I have to always respect the culture of Nigeria, but the hard and cold way that the locals handle death is something I must never allow to become a part of me, Paul Kavanagh. NO, NO , NO.

Of course one aspect of this which is quite obvious is the powerful Christian mentality of south Nigeria. God, Jesus and the bible is everywhere, and impacts every element of life here. It is evident in every aspect of Nigerian life, and so it should not be a surprise that it would influence the last part of a persons life, death. Those who pass on are destined for a greater place, is always going to be the easy explanation and the comfort.

Those who may have read other pages on PaulKavanagh.com will know that I myself lost my beloved Mum just a couple of years ago, and each day it still hurts, and on each day I think of her, talk to her and think of her, and in truth, I never want to stop doing that. I know she would be fascinated by my Nigerian adventure and my life here, she would really want to come and see it for herself. I also know she would be proud of me for trying to support my local primary school. But she is gone and it hurts like hell, and I am dam glad it does. Of course behind closed doors, I am sure my staff hurt too, but at this stage I have still not really seen the emotion or outpour that I expected. TNB!


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