Welcome to Motherhood Voices – Gratitude in Grief and Finding Hope after a Devastating Loss
Our guest today is Yetunde Morenikeji Ajani Raji
Oneinspiredmum: Welcome ma’am. We are so excited to have you here.
Guest: Thank you. I am glad to be here.
Oneinspiredmum: Firstly, we have some quick questions we will like to ask you. Here we go.
Quick fire questions
1. What book are you currently reading? Or better still, what is that one book that has had a profound impact in your life?
Guest: I am presently reading a novel titled ‘LOVE IN DISGUISE’ by Carol Cox.
2. Who or what inspires you?
Guest: My hubby & my challenges.
3. What does motherhood mean to you?
Guest: Today, I will say motherhood is a risky transaction in reality.
Over to our Main Questions.
1. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Guest: I am Yetunde Morenikeji. I was born on a beautiful Monday, on the 26th of October, 1970 into a family of five as the second child but first daughter. I am the founder of the Yetunde Morenikeji Ajani Adeniyi Raji Foundation also known as (YAAR). I am a mother of 3 rare priceless treasures. And I am that woman who became a widow and amputee on the same day. You can read more here .
Follow her on Facebook: @yetundemorenikeji.raji Instagram: @rajiyetunde
2. Can you give us a little insight into your story?
Guest: I was on a 10-day vacation to see my hubby as practiced in the last few years before this last one in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We attended a 4-day conference in the United Kingdom just a day after my arrival into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We then went on a two day romantic adventure to Turkey before returning to Saudi and I was expected to go back to Nigeria. But this was not to be. My husband and I had this horrific accident that I sometimes call a ‘SUDDEN TSUNAMI THAT SHATTERED FIVE BEAUTIFUL CIRCLES INTO FOUR SHAKING CIRCLES’.
(Her husband, Ajani Adeniyi Raji, a consultant haematologist in Saudi Arabia passed away in a fatal accident on the 31st of May, 2012 barely 2 weeks after his 47th birthday).
3. What was your first reaction when you discovered that you had lost your leg and your husband in the accident?
Guest: Initially when I came out of coma, I did not know what had happened, but I felt this heaviness and taught the discomfort came from my new shoes. (that hubby got for me from Russell & Bromley against my wish😅 but he must make his wife happy). I asked the available health officer to help me remove the shoes, and she said that I was not wearing any shoes. Then I saw one of my legs tied upwards and a drop of tears from the eyes of the health officer when I asked after my hubby before I went back to sleep.
The realization did not come immediately as I was in coma for weeks. I gathered just same way and learnt that I lost one of my legs in a traumatic accident scene. It was not cut off by the doctors as presumed by many including myself. It was four years after that I got the correct information. The doctors saved the right one from being amputated above the knee, as the bones were totally crushed but saved with external fixation today.
And regarding my hubby, I got the ugliest news of my life in an unwanted painted manner. Yes, it wasn’t the brand or best of painted news I desired, but it was given and delivered in the best way they could think of….life! My Adeniyi left me for the first time without letting me know his whereabouts or for how long he will be away for. No final goodbye (Still hurting 💔😭).
4. Some women share very deep bonds with their husbands. You have often shared about the deep relationship you had with your husband. How has the journey been like for you as a widow living without your companion of almost 18 years?
Guest: It was actually 17 years of marriage and 22 years of great friendship. You can just search for the ugliest words in the world and such will express my feelings. Hence my daily prayers for those having it good today never to come close to my experience since he got killed. Ojú mérin ò ní di méjì lágbára Olúwa fún won. (Four eyes will not become two in the Lord’s strength for them)
The loneliness can’t be described for anyone to understand. Where exactly should I start from? I did not choose this very hot seat but I am in the position without another option.
5. As a mother, what was it like to be separated from your children for 23-months while in the hospital in another country?
Guest: Indescribable! Unexplainable and that season came with damages 💔 here and there.
6. You were in a coma for weeks, one of your legs completely gone at the accident scene, the other leg badly broken, shoulders dislocated and you were almost going blind. This is a whole lot for one person to go through. How did you navigate this new season of your life and what coping mechanisms did you employ?
Guest: Till date, all I can say is that GRACE breathed into the situation alongside uncommon favour. And that is why I can’t stop breathing out his endless praise. It is still rough at times but mercy is smoothening the edges. It will be difficult to cope without God. The unpleasant sides of my life is nothing I want for even for the best of my enemies because they might not survive it. I do not wish it for anyone sincerely.
Note That You Can Lose Anything and Anyone But Ensure You Do Not Lose Yourself…No Matter What! – Yetunde Morenikeji Raji
7. You have maintained an attitude of gratitude despite the devastating loss of your husband and legs. How can one embrace and reflect that heart of gratitude during a loss or when grieving the loss of a loved one?
Guest: Probably, my Arabic name is playing in my life when it comes to gratitude. Though I asked for capacity to keep going with grace and ability to reflect real joy and nothing like the tribulations that befell me. And my super clay potter granted it. I am also particularly grateful for the complete acceptance from my treasures the moment they got the horrific news. It meant the entire world to me and I did not give a damn of how the world will perceive me after. Na limbs and husband I no get. I am not someone that will give another soul pain while romancing them.
I will also let you know that whatever challenges nature places before anyone can’t be bigger than the one that created you. And if we can only reflect on God’s word from both Holy Books (if you believe?).
God said, he will never give anyone more than they can handle and he gives the toughest battles to his strongest and best soldiers. Yet solving a particular hurdle would not mean that there will be an absence of another. But God assures you that he will always be there to see you through.
Yes, God is always there to help you navigate challenges and no one can overcome any challenge without him. So, do not label your problems. They will go because there is always an attached expiry date to every challenge if only one can see it. Though, it might seem invisible, but that challenge or difficult season surely can’t be permanent.
And for anyone grieving now, I keep telling people something, you can’t tell anyone how to grieve, because the bonds we shared with our deceased are not the same. You can decide to move on sharply if you are happy that your spouse was heartache for you and their death was a blessing and you are not wrong!
But how do you console parents that lose their child or the children living without their father/mother? You might have lost a partner but they lost a father/mother and no one can ever play that role in their lives ever again. I think it is a bad stamp at times to stay with forever irrespective of the great attainments tomorrow, particularly if they had a good father/mother. We did in my family! Friendly, jovial, multitasking Adeniyi can never ever be replaced in our lives.
Up till now, I can’t stay in the compound without seeing my hubby and our treasures running after balls or seeing their images struggling over console for games, or reflecting over their imaginary images in the pool.
8. What are those things or people that have helped you maintain a positive outlook about life despite all the challenges that you have been through?
- My very merciful maker.
- My treasures especially my number one cheerleader (with mixed feelings).
- My baby sister. (God Bless Her).
9. Did you at any time blame God for not preventing the event that changed your family’s life forever?
Guest: Oh yes! I did. I queried God. I challenged God. I blamed God. I hated God. I was provoked by the incident. I asked and asked questions but could not get satisfactory answers from God, not to talk of people he created.
God had used my husband the same day I lost him to save a patient that people believed cannot be saved. And I still reference to it as pàsípààrò…fèmírèmí (exchange…breathe), funny?
I wept and wailed for 15-months and 2 days non stop. Hot water rolling freely from my eyes without gate pass, no obstructions for more than a year, day in and out, the tears flowed like a river every morning and night. I always woke up with damp pillows not knowing that I was crying in my sleep.
I ate, drank and slept tears for the stated duration. But, I am thankful still. Death cheated me/us and I was angry then that Adeniyi couldn’t fight the monster called death enough for love to conquer. I doubted God’s existence and why he refused to prevent the accident from happening to one of his rare creatures…My dearest, loving, devoted and dedicated husband (Tears).
But, I later retrieved my steps and pleaded to same God and asked him to take the wheel of my life and that of my treasures.
10. It is said that ‘GRIEVING’ is a highly individual experience; and that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Also, unexpected emotions like shock, anger, disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness often arise during grief. What did your own grieving season look like?
Guest: Yes, there is no right or wrong way to mourn except for the ignorant! My grieving season was full of all the emotions you mentioned above. No matter how prepared you think you are for a death (not to talk of an unprepared case like mine, it was so sudden after many fond memories). You can never be fully prepared for the loss and the season of grief.
That season was a mess of total pains and tears, so much that they assumed that something was wrong with me and invited a psychiatrist to see me for evaluation. I educated him anyway by asking if he will act normal should he be in my position? But I am thankful to have been surrounded by loved ones from thousands of miles away and strangers in a foreign land staying so close. My sight at that time would bring any cold hearted person to tears.
I was bedridden for months. Disgusting memories. I still have the pipe in my eye almost 9-years after, as the surgery was not done, because they assumed that I was hallucinating while complaining then. (laughs)
11. Share with us about the place of forgiveness during a loss, especially when that loss was caused by the actions of another.
Guest: Then, I was angry and bitter, but I later retracted my steps before God in tears and asked him to heal me and grant me the grace to forgive. I also asked God to grant me the full ability to forgive anyone that might have wronged me, even if they do not deserve it. I did not want my inability to forgive anyone to be a stumbling block to my prayers before God.
Till this present moment, there’s nothing anyone can do to me that I cannot forgive rather, you cease to exist in my life (strange, right?)
12. You are an amputee who is not ashamed to show off her scars. Where does this confidence come from?
Guest: Like I said earlier, my treasures full acceptance of the new me gave me wings to fly and the ability to see myself just the way God had reshaped me. I am indeed grateful.
13. Speak one word of encouragement to that person who has just lost a spouse, child, sibling, parent or friend.
Guest: The truth is that one word from me cannot fix them. When my baby sister lost her child, we were all in pains. What word can I possibly give you to heal the wounds if I am not wearing the hat? I am not in that position and I pray that God consoles them indeed including Davido & Chioma along hundreds out there who have lost someone very dear to them.
What can I even say to a widower that will never see his wife again, the mother of his children? Or someone that will never see a loving uncle/aunt ever again? I stand out as a widow (few widows confessed that they were indirectly responsible for the death of their husbands & I asked them to forgive themselves if God can forgive them.
I am not like other widows out there. They did not loose their limbs the same day death hijacked their husband. I stayed in the hospital for close to two years after losing my spouse and was deprived the privilege of seeing my children for 2 whole years, because they were denied visas in the same country they had visited. And even still battling daily through unspoken challenges.
Some widows are fortunate to have good family members/friends that help to lighten the burden. However, it’s not the same for some of us, though not blaming anyone for such. Look! You must stay strong for no one but yourself to truly and fully exist, before you can even be useful for anyone.
14. What are the most important lessons you learnt in that season of your life?
Guest: There is really nothing in this life. And I still wonder about the essence of God creating us only to strive, attain a certain stage then drop everything to go back. But, I will say this, live your life for yourself and humanity. Laugh till you have good tears. Be the authentic you at all times. Do not allow the circumstances of life to define you. Problem no dey finish according to our people.
15. Where does your deep-rooted sense of gratitude and cheerfulness come from? And not to forget your hearty smiles.
Guest: Uncommon Favour! I don’t even understand it myself, even my own blood will tell me to stop appreciating her for even the tiniest favour. Abinibi ni (it is native) and I am forever thankful to God for creating me this way.
16. Your final word to everyone reading this interview.
Guest: Face your fears. Laugh while in tears. Never ever leave gratitude out of anything and everything. And ensure you wear your scars with pride if any. Spray gratitude all over you with it. Do not let the words coming from the world ‘label’ affect or define you.
You know yourself. God knows you. People do not know your heart. Don’t just exist but start living. Be an original version of you and give the gift of just that smile to a stranger. It could be all needed for the stranger to live well.
Oneinspiredmum: Thank you ma’am for sharing your story with us on this edition of Motherhood Voices. We appreciate you.
Guest: Thank you for having me and stay richly blessed.
Did you learn a lesson or two from our guest’s story?
Or perhaps you are strengthened and encouraged by her story.
Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section or feel free to reach us via our email –email@example.com
(For confidential reasons, we sometimes take out our guest’s name as requested. They can choose to be seen or remain anonymous and we will surely respect that choice.)