Grief Etiquette 101.

You know how we usually say you do not know someone’s truth until you walk in their shoes, or are in their situation? It is true, especially so when it comes to death.

Yes, DEATH. The one who’s touch leaves us cold, bitter, in anguish and turmoil. But sometimes the touch of death does also leave us relieved. Yes, it does if a person was in a lot of pain…. wouldn’t you rather have them suffer no more? And I mean all pain, not just the physical.

I know it sounds a bit cold to write that, but think about it… you the one left behind is in pain of loving a loved one which is natural, but there is nothing wrong in also letting them go and accepting that they are in a much better place where they are no longer suffering.

My family and I are still reeling in shock over losing several loved ones last year, more so my younger sister who died suddenly in August. What pains me the most is H, our kids and I were enroute to go see her. Sigh. IT HURTS SO BAD, and I do not know who said time heals because every single day I feel more pain.

As we planned her funeral a few things happened that pissed me off and made me come up with a few pointers on what one can do when others are grieving. I know some will be hard to do especially in my culture where death itself is a taboo subject. We do not talk of death openly and this makes us uncomfortable and most of the time we do not know how to console each other.

Here is what I came up with, in no particular order:-

• When you visit a bereaved person be conscious of what you say and ask. Let them speak first if they want to. If they do not want to give more information on what happened, DO NOT PRY. It is perfectly fine to sit there in silence.
• It is not the time to bring gossip and what other people are saying into a grieving home. Why would you even do that? Why?
• Do not say “ I know how you feel,” you don’t. You may have lost a loved one too but the pain is different. You could have both lost spouses and can console each other on the same without assuming the pain and anguish is the same.
• Don’t force the grieving person to tell you what they will do next. If a spouse dies, do you tell widows and widowers to change beds and houses immediately? It is NONE of your business.
• Don’t tell a grieving person “vumilia!” If they want to laugh, scream, roll let them do it as long as they are not endangering themselves and others. There is no textbook way to mourn.
• Respect the grieving person’s culture. Every culture has a way they deal with grief and bereavement. Don’t be condescending. Seek clarity from a friend familiar to that culture instead.
• Grieving is not a platform to compete about who knew the deceased better and who knows the family more. Hatushindani kwa machozi tafadhali. Be sensitive to the loss.
• Some help to the family goes a long way, be it financial or just helping out take out trash, stock groceries cleaning up etc. For the love of God help from the heart. And you do not have to help if you do not want to. Do not give any kind of help and expect to be rewarded for it. You help from the heart. Don’t expect a medal for it!
• Let the family determine the legacy they want for their loved one. AT their own time. Do NOT rush them into making decisions. God knows I can write a whole book on this!
• If the deceased person had indicated how they would want to be disposed. RESPECT IT! Who are you to question how and why someone is being cremated or buried in a certain way or at a certain place?
• After the funeral, it is ok to check on the family but don’t linger. Sometimes they also need some privacy in their Mourning as they try to cope in the absence of their loved one. If I’m bereaved and you come and find me out shopping don’t accuse me or make me feel guilty of doing normal things. There is no textbook way to grieve so if a long drive, retail therapy, or swimming will help me cope, let me be! Stop making people feel guilty for doing normal things. Life continues for them no matter how hard it is.
• Be silent and open to non verbal nuances. If the bereaved person wants to talk about the deceased, let them do it at their OWN time and shut up and listen. Do not offer opinions and answers unless asked as sometimes the person just wants to be listened to.
• Confidentiality and sensitivity is so important. Recording committee meetings or conversations taking place, taking photos and sharing them without express family permission is a BIG NO! Only vile human beings derive pleasure from sharing others’ anguish. Are you the type? Please stay away from grieving families if you answered yes.
• There are different stages of grief and family members and friends who have lost a loved one are rarely at the same stage at the same time. Respect that too.

Y’all can add your own….

 

 

 

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My Java Relationship

I know I am not the only one in this town who has an abusive relationship with Java House.

Java, our beloved coffee house that used to have real nice brownies, great pepper steaks, fries and great coffee to boot.

Despite lousy service, lowered standards, slugs/ worms in salad, we still trudge back to Java as it has sentimental value to many of us. For some, it was the first place you had that great date (that ended in marriage a few years later), where you would meet friends and catch up over chocolatey milkshakes, prepare presentations over giant samosas. Sigh. Those were the days.

Java is still a great meeting place but to be honest the standards are not the same. Whether this has to do with the rapid expansion, or the changing of investors, who knows? But I know I am not the only one who misses the old Java.

Recent incidents have just made me mad. From two cockroaches at their sister outlet, delayed and orders delivered piecemeal, (the whole brunch ended up being on the house courtesy of / due to intervention by their marketing manager who was present at the time), soup overloaded with white pepper at Java Yaya, what is not happening to this source of pride for many Nairobians? Despite this, my two feet and silly brain keep returning.

Earlier today, H and I decided to have lunch with Njeri at their Upper Hill Branch. We have been there a few times before with nothing wrong happening. But today, despite it not being busy, we sat a cool fifteen minutes without being served. Oh, we had a menu on the table and Njeri had started her coloring but none of their staff bothered to come pick our orders.  A cool fifteen minutes with a hungry kindergartner and two hungry adults. Sigh.  One of their waitresses passed by three times, without a pause. Three couples got served before us. Fifteen minutes was too long a time to wait. So when the same waitress passed by I had to stand in her way to get her attention, but H was not having it, he had already picked our stuff and headed out. The waitress rushed to get the manager who followed me out begging us to come back that she would serve us ourselves. Ooook, I asked her why she would want to serve us, if her staff were not bothered and anyway, it was not going be a pleasant experience after my daughter asked “Why do they not want to serve us?”

How did I know it was fifteen minutes? I had my phone timer set as we had an order at a nearby chemist that we had been told will take fifteen minutes to be ready.

Am I done with Java House yet? How much more can I take? I do not know 😦

Pranked!

I do not like pranks. Not one bit.

So my friend Hash decided to play a prank on me a couple of weeks ago.

She is a great baker and always busy, but she was my choice to bake Leo’s third birthday cake. I had booked months before. Yes, months and even paid a deposit. All that was left was for her to deliver.

Hash is meticulous, keeps time and keeps her word so I was sure she did not need to be reminded about the cake.

A week to the delivery date, I texted her. This is the texterversation took place:-

Me: Hey dear, hope you have been well, are we still on this Friday?

Hash: Hey, Huh? What’s happening this Friday? I am not in the Country till the fifteenth, what was it about?

Me: I am to collect my son’s birthday cake.

Hash: Oh Shit! I completely forgot!!!

I started getting a bit mad…

Hash: So, what do we do?

Huh? Was she for real, chic was asking me what to do? I was officially pissed so I just texted H to let him know what had happened. All he did was text back “ It is ok, we will figure out what to do.”

I had to head into a meeting so I did not respond but I was not pleased and how could I get another baker to do a great job in such short notice?

When I got back to the office a couple of hours later, I decided to ask Hash for my refund and get an acquaintance who happened to be an upcoming baker to do the job for me. I was really disappointed as I know Hash is very OCD about her work even if it  was some emergency.

Then my phone beeped ..

Hash: Are you there? I was kidding.

Me: Silent and seething..

Hash: I hope I didn’t give you a mini heart attack, I was just pulling your leg and yes, we are definitely on for Friday.

WHAT? This lady was playing a prank on me the whole time?

Needless to say, Hash is so sweet , you just cannot get mad at her. LOL

Sigh. I was happy though but those two hours were torture for me, no pranking Mama Njeri please, a beg oh!

Here is the wonderful cake she baked for my son.

Stupidity at its finest

What is happening in our country is sad and I am pissed off!
I don’t know whether what happened in Mpeketoni was ethnic cleansing or a terrorist attack. All I know for sure is people died and our government failed us.
What is even more annoying are those twisted minds on social media hiding under pseudonyms claiming its only Kikuyu’s who died. I am a proud Kikuyu woman. And a Kenyan. I did not choose my tribe. I have not been favoured any way in my life because of my tribe.
I will never deny or apologise for my ethnicity.
I did not know belonging to my tribe makes me a lesser being. I did not care before but now I care.
Because of the vitriol coming out of some silly mouths.
Like my husband’s colleague who made a crude joke as he looked tired at work
“Kwani ulilala kwa msitu mkichinjwa?”
( you look like you slept in the forest being chased to be slaughtered?)
The person said this in a snide tone. I guess she thinks that funny because none of her relatives died in the massacre. Or she’s hiding in her tribal cocoon thinking she’s safe and can taunt the only Kikuyu in that office. That to me is Bull crap
I repeat. I will never deny my heritage to feel safe. I will never apologise for being Kikuyu. I am one. A proud one at that. And yes have lost friends and family in ethnic cleansing. To say I’m pissed is an understatement!

The Truth.

Saw this on Facebook and had to share as I am getting tired of the asssumption that only idlers bothered to go for the nominations. H, our folks, and kin alike plus friends showed up for the nominations, and they are not idlers or touts and no gooders as some opinionated people on social media would like us to believe. They are hardworking Kenyans who went to exercise their rights. Do they have jobs or other things to attend to? YES. But they chose to exercise their right first. H actually came home after work and went to vote. My friend was working in the queue having carried her laptop with her from work. Our cousin queued for 6 hours, 6! And he has a job too. i saw those queues as I took my daughter to the clinic and back. Most of those queueing were hardworking Kenyans like the rest of us, and their jobs or stature in life does not make them fools.  Your watchman could very well be smarter than you, knows his rights and exercises them but you actually have the gall to look down on him and assume he can only choose the stone throwing thug? NKT! who told you he did not vote for the guy ready to roll up his sleeves and work? Kenyans are well educated both in and out of the offices but that does not translate to good choices. So come March 4th, when all of a sudden the holier than thous will have the time to vote, vote too and let your choice be known, do not hate.
There is so much more I have to say but I came across this  piece that hit the nail right on the head. It is attributed to Pastor Pete Odera, do not know if it is his originally but he does have a point, a major one. Read on…
“Dear Nairobi’s Middle Class;

I can’t believe that an overqualified Jimnah Mbaru was defeated at the nomination stage for Governor of Nairobi!
I can’t believe that the best TNA representative for Senator emerged as Mike Mbuvi alias Sonko.
These are the guys ODM will face on March 4th?

How can this be when your tweets and posts declared Mr Mbaru’s resume the marking scheme for all CV’s?
How can it be after all the bile displayed on social media concerning Sonko’s theatrics?
I thought you would all turn up in large numbers and usher in a new era of issue based, professionalism in our city’s politics.
Well I guess that’s the folly of democracy-an overqualified person can lose to a popular under-qualified person.

Here is another irony however: The people you pay to do menial work, your house help, your cook, watchman & gardener are voting in whoever they like because they are more politically engaged and are more willing to bring change than you are.
I know you will probably argue with me about this but your behaviour this past week has proved me right.

When I went out there to participate in the nomination process (and I did and dragged & mobilised a few people) I didn’t see you.
I saw some edgy looking desperadoes, some over excited zealots and loads of house helps, cooks, watchmen & gardeners walking, riding (and in some cases being bussed) into polling centres where they waited and voted.
I saw a few of you more conscientious ones nervously make your way but I didn’t see you jam the centres as you jam Ngong road during “Sevens”.
I didn’t see you bring out the picnic baskets and the swag (fluffy dogs and all) like you do at “Blankets”.
I didn’t see you scrummage as you do when there’s a huge artist’s concert at Impala Club or some other place.

The simple reason is: You are more willing to read this online than to go out and vote.
You complain about politics and yet you are not a member of any useful organisation or political party except Facebook & Twitter-how these contribute to the betterment of our nation’s critical issues other than to launder diverse opinions is yet to become clear to me.
(If you are a member of a political party or other useful organisation, ignore this last remark).

Foolish & lazy but clever educated and honest people like you, are outdone by wily, uneducated & dishonest people because you do not have the guts or patience to wait in the same sun that your house help, cook, watchman & gardener are willing to brave to express their political opinion.

It’s true you were working on the day of the nominations but you wouldn’t sacrifice that day (or in this case two days) to bring quality people to the table so that there would be value driven leaders at the city gates for the next 5 years?

Oh I forgot, your leave days were exhausted from last years trip to Coasto!
If you brought out those hats that you wear at Concours and some Dasani it might have helped you beat the sun.
(It drizzled most of the morning by the way so a brolly might have helped more)

In case you are wondering who I’m speaking to-if you live in Nairobi and can read and understand this then the finger is pointing at you.

The reason ODM, TNA, URP, etc (which is not a political party but an abbreviation for the Latin et cetera) had shambolic chaos in the name of party nominations is because, unlike the generation that fought for independence you are sitting on the sidelines cheering-or in this case jeering.
You have complained that it was an exercise in futility and huffed and puffed at the irregularities and rigging-all of this you have done electronically on FB & Twitter etc by the way in the safety of your home, office or whatever comfort zone you hide in.

You are unwilling to be really engaged.
If Dedan Kimathi, Kungu Karumba,Achieng’ Oneko and the other independence heroes had your attitude and sat on the sidelines the Brits would still be here-yes we’d still be a British colony.
What sacrifice are you willing to make for a future generation in this regard?
What are you willing to do for the nation that’s not necessarily in your own interest?

You have another chance come March 4th.
But all you have to choose from are the people you didn’t nominate but who got the ticket because you decided to be pathetic and display political apathy.
Get off your lazy posterior (that’s a bleep word that I can’t say because I’m a Pastor but you catch my drift) and make a political difference will you?

What a place our political parties would be if you all were active members contributing your internet wisdom in practical ways.
What a country this would be if you all made sure quality people got into government by your conscious engagement.

Oh I forgot you’re too busy browsing Facebook, Twitter ad nauseam.
I tried anyway, just like the many good people who tried to get the nomination but didn’t.
Feel free to blast away your response here below if you went to nominate someone-at least in protest.
If you didn’t and still want to respond please tell us all why you didn’t-I will accept any real reason other than the apathy that was displayed this past week.
Sincerely
Pastor Pete Odera”

 

 

Love my job but..,

Ever been in a situation where you love what you do for a living but your employer just has this knack of ticking you off? That is how I am feeling right now. As I had mentioned earlier my employer only gives eight weeks maternity leave and you forgo your annual leave. Mean AND Totally Illegal, I know. So the Big Kahuna had a change of heart and communicated to all team leaders at a meeting a few weeks ago that he is very considerate and has decided to adjust our maternity leave to the legal guideline of three months plus annual leave! We were so happy but wait, guys it is not to be as there is no written communication to everyone else. Now my predicament is this. I have no problem with the eight weeks but i have two weeks of my annual leave pending which my dear supervisor had assured me to keep pending as i would still be entitled to them under the new rule. Now, my due date is Tuesday and I wanted to apply for my thirteen days first which I have earned over the year only to be informed that I cannot take them and my maternity leave. So, yours truly will forgo my thirteen days which will not roll over to next year, and work till the last day as there is no clear communication as to whether I apply for Eight weeks maternity or Twelve weeks. Really?  What century are we in again?

Irritating questions people ask

I’ve been asked so many questions by so many random people since my bump began to show but a few deserve some mention. First is “who is your doctor?” when this is from a well meaning friend or family member who knows all the doctors in Kenya that is fine. But random people? Eh NKT!              Others are the well meaning work mates self appointed nutritionists who have taken it upon themselves to inspect the lunch I’ve carried from home and ask why there are no greens? Do I need to explain to them the serious heart burn I’ve been getting so opt to have greens in the evening instead?                       Next is which hospital I have booked? Eh this is one question I also give random answers as I’ve heard and read enough horror stories of ALL the hospitals that can drive one to seriously consider a home birth!   
The questions are however mild compared to the advice I get. But that is a post for another day 🙂