Life After losing a child

Bona|June 2020

Life After losing a child
A parent’s worst fear is the death of a child. And, when that fear becomes a reality, grief becomes unbearable and acceptance seems impossible. Four readers share intimate details of their journeys.
Amanda Mtuli & Fundiswa Nkwanyana

Zaza Letsholo (37) lost her 4-year-old son, Kamo, 3 years ago. She is a sales executive for a car manufacturer and founder of Zaza Mahlangu Foundation, residing in Pretoria.

THE TRAGIC LOSS

In 2017, while at home with my family, we noticed that we hadn’t seen Kamo in a while. I went outside to look for him and found him at the bottom of the pool with his bicycle. I jumped in, pulled him out and rushed to the hospital where the medical staff attended to him. After a while, we were told that he was dead. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my son’s lifeless body; I thought I was having a bad dream. I have never felt so much pain in my life. My family and friends had to keep me sedated for a couple of days because I couldn’t stop crying.

THE GRIEVING PROCESS

Every inch of my body was in excruciating pain and seeing everyone crying in my house broke my heart even more. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him. The week before he died, we were preparing for his birthday celebration – we buried him on his birthday. There were times when I was angry that my son was dead, but I’m starting to accept it now, even though I sometimes think that I’m going to wake up from a bad dream. I’m still grieving and crying about it, but it gets better each day.

ACCEPTANCE

I accept that my grief will never end, and I have to learn to live with the pain. My loving husband’s support, together with our family and friends, keeps me strong. Kamo’s death inspired me to help the disadvantaged, so in 2018, I started the Zaza Foundation, which is a non-governmental organization that focuses on youth and women empowerment in Mpumalanga. Running it keeps me strong because I can see the positive impact that I’m part of, and it makes me happy. I also openly share my story on social media because it’s helping others come to terms with their loss.

Makhosazana Ndhlovu (31) is an in-store sales consultant at a cellphone shop. Her baby girl died during birth. She lives in Boksburg, East of Johannesburg.

THE TRAGIC LOSS

I lost my baby on 6 September 2019, after carrying her for seven months. My daughter had a rare abnormality called Trysomy 18 also known as Edwards’ syndrome. This condition causes severe developmental delays due to an extra chromosome 18. There is no treatment for it, and it’s usually fatal before birth or within the first year of life. I had a difficult pregnancy because even before learning about the condition, I had what is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum – a rare disorder characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. I was admitted in hospital about 12 times throughout the seven months of pregnancy. When the doctor broke the news to my family, he said babies with Trysomy 18 are classified as not compatible with life. He also explained that my daughter would probably not live for more than three days.

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June 2020