Women are said to glow and grow fatter, and happier when their husbands, mostly the well-off, die. Women have coping mechanisms and support systems - their friends, chama, church and children. They also don’t mind seeking counselling from the pastor, besides singing in the choir during the day and crying themselves to sleep at night.
Widows even have support groups, in addition to sympathetic extended family members checking on them.
The same cannot be said of men when their wives die. Their crying is not cathartic and in a bid to be masculine, most sink into depression, alcoholism and thinness of spirit and body.
Few, even fellow men, check on widowers. It is assumed they heal easily, remarry after a short period of being lonesome - which is why women are often advised to “enjoy life now since when you die, your husband will replace you in weeks!”
But is this usually the case? Take Kenyan music producer Tedd Josiah. His wife Regina Katar died after a short illness in October 2017, leaving behind a three-month-old daughter. Josiah told The Nairobian that thereafter, his life become rough.
“Imagine calling someone your everything - home, safe place, your all - and watching them slowly fade away on their deathbed in less than an hour. I was left on a free fall and lost. In many ways, Regina was my anchor. I have to make a lot of adjustments; I am more hands on with my baby. I have to wash her, clean, cook, feed and be always there for her,” explains Josiah.
“I am lucky my office is in my home so I can spend all the time I need with her,” he explains.
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Though it is hard for him to raise his baby girl alone, he is thankful that the in-laws “both grandmothers have been very active and supportive and always a phone call away in case I need help. I am grateful for that,” says Josiah who rode into fame on the back of producing such pioneering musicians as Hardstone, Suzanna Owiyo, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji and the duo of Nazizi Hirji and Wyre as Necessary Noize.
Josiah wishes that “there were support systems that are more robust in this country. If I was still living in the UK, I would be able to take some time off work and still have an allowance to take care of the baby, and though it wouldn’t be much, it would mean we have a roof over our heads and food to eat as she grows to the age of attending school, before I go back to work. I’ve also had to tighten my circle since not everyone who comes into your life want the best for you.”
On taking care of such a young daughter, Josiah explains that “children are very sensitive to people and people’s moods, so it’s been important that I keep my daughters environment as peaceful and positive as possible.”
He hasn’t forgotten his wife as he is still grieving and misses the good times he shared with Regina. The scar of that loss is quite obvious, proof that there is such a thing as true love.
“Losing someone you love isn’t easy, especially if it was real love. They say that love never dies, so imagine the confusion in my mind on some days. The loss in my mind. The heaviness in my heart just thinking about the fun times and wishing she’d pop out from behind the door and scream ‘boo!’ and scare me. That’s what we used to do to each other...and listening to beautiful song and wishing I could share that with her. But she’s not here.”
To honour her memory, Josiah kept all his wife’s stuff for their daughter when she grows up. “I kept it all. Some precious stuff will stay with me until my daughter is old enough to inherit it all…to let my little Jay know that her mom was loved, her memory was kept safe, but so were her valuable things.”
Unlike most couples whose marriage physically signified by wedding bands, Josiah says “I never had a wedding band. I had a watch. And yes, I keep it with me, and always will.”
On dating again, he explains that “only God knows the future and the plans He has for me. Would I like to see someone? At this point, my heart has too many mixed emotions.”
He advises other widowers to mourn their loved ones and stop trying to be heroes as “a man who has lost his wife should mourn the way he knows best. Let yourself feel the pain and sorrow. Don’t try and be a hero by bottling it up inside, it will eventually break you. None of us are built strong enough to ignore the pain of loss. It makes men turn to alcohol and other things for a temporary high and to try to forget.”
He adds: “If you’ve got kids, cuddle them and walk this journey together. You need each other. God is able. He will renew me every day and He will take my ashes and give me beauty. I have learnt to depend on God more.”