Tragedy befell the Bello family as their only son Jide was kidnapped and brutally murdered. Jide
Bello was a 23-year-old first class graduate of the University of Ilorin and he had just been
posted as a corps member to a university in Taraba State. The whole family was happy because
Jide was the first graduate and corps member in the family.
Jide’s Father was not prepared for the phone call he received that his only son had been
kidnapped by bandits on his way to Taraba. The kidnappers requested for 5 million naira!
The Bellos had to sell their properties and request for loans before they were able to raise the 5
million naira. When they sent the money as agreed to the bandits, they were hopeful that their
beloved son would return home. The following day, Jide’s father received a picture of the dead
body of their son. The family was devastated.
Segi has been dealing with her grief after her mother’s traumatic death. They had returned home
from her mother’s provision store at 9:00 p.m. the previous night. They were both exhausted and
retired soon after. They were startled awake around 12:30 a.m. by a disturbance in the living
room. Someone had broken into their house! They scrambled around in a sleepy haze to hide but
it was too late. The perpetrator barged into their room holding a gun. Segi can still remember
how he pushed her mother to the ground. “Get down! I no wan see your face” he screamed in
broken English. He searched around the house and when he could not find anything substantial
to steal, he became angry. “I go take something today” he said looking at Segi like a hungry
man. Her mother begged as the man approached Segi but he wouldn’t listen. In a desperate
attempt to save her daughter from impending rape, her mother pounced on the robber. They
struggled for a while, and he shot her. Segi could only watch helplessly as her mother bled to
death while the intruder ran away.
Psychological Impact of the Traumatic Loss of a Loved One Although the death of a loved one can be emotionally upsetting in any circumstance, unexpected
and traumatic deaths elicit particularly powerful reactions. It is a shock as we do not expect our
loved ones to die so suddenly and painfully. Traumatic losses affect everyone differently.
People who have experienced a traumatic loss of a loved one, are more predisposed to having
mental health consequences. It can lead to disturbed grief, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic
How to Cope with Grief and Losses
People handle grief differently using coping skills. Most people will recover from traumatic
losses on their own over time if they have social support and create healthy coping habits. We
can’t teach people how to handle their grief, but we should be supportive and show them
empathy. Below are a few tips that can help you cope better, following traumatic losses:
- Isolation is a common reaction, as the natural inclination is to go into hiding and be
left alone. But it is more helpful for grievers to speak with someone in whom they can
confide and be open about their feelings. Some people who are grieving may have a
friend or family member they can talk to, while others may not. Surround yourself
with family, friends and loved ones. Self-isolation may prolong the healing process.
- Consider using grief resources, like grief support groups, in tandem with your
support system. There are some online groups available now.
- It can be tough to strike a balance between your grieving process and your daily
activities. Allow yourself the time and space you need to process your feelings and,
when possible, take breaks from grieving by trying to gradually re-integrate yourself
into your daily activities.
- Embrace memories: Talking about the deceased and reminiscing about the positive
memories you have had, can help to reduce some of the sadness that comes with the
- Speak to a mental health professional. This can help make it easier to sort through
your feelings and help you learn healthy coping mechanisms.
Unlike the situation with the Bello family (scenarios are fictitious) where they found
closure; it can be emotionally devastating when there is no information and the loved
one go missing for years with no closure. Yet they must move on with their lives.
The goal of grieving is not to forget the memories of the loved one. But to reach a
point where the raw pain is replaced by increased positive memories of the deceased
and their essence. It is okay to continue to have residual dull ache and sense of loss,
but it should be easier to bear and be accompanied by appreciation for the time spent
with the loved one, and the positive memories they shared.
Tribune Article for the column “Your Mental Health & You”
Thursday, 20th April 2023