Widowers speak on pain of losing spouse

What is it really like when a man loses his wife?

How do men cope after the death of a spouse in a society where men are encouraged to remain stoic in the face of grief?

Six recently widowed recounted those devastating last moments they spent with their wives.

They spoke to NTV’s Victoria Rubadiri in her show Victoria’s Lounge.

Below is a transcript of part one of the show. Part two of the show will be aired on Thursday at 7:30pm. 

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Dan Kinyanjui

Occupation: Actor/Biker based in Mombasa

His wife Druscillah Walowe died in May this year while she was giving birth to their second born son.

“My life with Dru was a lot of fun.  I knew I had found the right one even before I married her. I never shied from flaunting her.

She was my soulmate and my partner. We got married in 2012, got our first born in August 2013. Our plan was to have two children; we succeeded on that but God had other plans. I am not living me now; I am living for my boys.

BLOOD DONATION

I miss her every single day. Dru breathed her last on May 23, 2017, two days after delivering our second born Darrel.

I had been up and down mobilising people to donate blood because her platelet levels were low.

I was the only one allowed into the ICU and even if she was not responding, I felt that she was there.

I had not freshened up for two days and I was literally pushed to go and take a quick shower.

BRAIN DEAD

Our pastor Gideon and several friends took me to our friend Dr Gome, who was very candid with me.

That morning, he was the first person to tell me that as much as her heart was still beating, she was brain-dead. I did not care.

She told me that even if I was to get Dru back, she would be a vegetable. I just wanted her back.

When I got to the hospital, the doctors told me that they needed to see me.

GOD

I knew immediately what they wanted to say. I requested them to allow me to go in with my parents and her parents.

That is when they broke the news that she did not make it. Her heart stopped.

I wanted to follow her so bad. I still have a lot of questions for God. I had to accept. I did not sleep for three nights.

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David Kariuki

Occupation: Marketer

He lost his wife Betty Kariuki while she was expecting their first children, triplets.

“We had the best of 10 years together. We dated for three years and were married for seven. Betty was a good wife and my confidant.

We had a connection that was unwavering. It was on a Tuesday when she died. She was on maternity leave when I joined her at home with two of her friends who stayed with us until 11pm in the night. We left for bed at 11pm.

At about 1am she woke up wheezing, saying “I can’t breathe”. I fetched her a glass of water, but she took a sip and vomited blood.

FIRST AID

I knew something was wrong. I called her doctor and agreed we meet at Mater Hospital. She began foaming from the mouth and I knew things were worse.

I tried to carry her but she was too heavy as she was expecting triplets. I called a neighbour who administered CPR as I called an ambulance that came in 10-15 minutes.

The medics put her on an oxygen mask and gave her first aid as we drove to Mater Hospital.

In the ambulance, one of the medics gave me a look and I knew she was gone. She never made it to the hospital.

IVF

It was around 2am. We had waited eight years for these children but the children did not survive.

I felt a sense of betrayal and I did question God. We had been childless for eight years.

We had gone through three in vitro fertilisation (IVFs) and on our fourth IVF, we were successful and then this happened.

It was something we had waited for so long and days before childbirth, she was picked from me.

I was bitter and mad at the world. I was caught up in some numbness.

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Martyn Alwala

Occupation: Chief executive  and Founder, Palms Decors

His wife Sheila Alwala died of breast cancer, leaving him with two sons.

“Sheila was my neighbour. We started by saying hi to each other before I took flowers to her office. She made me who I am today.

When I was able to convince her to leave her business and join me in mine, my friend told me that I had “found gold” in Sheila.

I had just come from work with my nephew and we chatted a bit when she asked me to take her to the washroom.

PRAYERS

She complained of chest pains and we had to call the nurses. I kept on telling her “You will be fine; God is with you”.

Her last week she would ask me “Would I really make it?”

She kept on asking who would take care of our sons if she died.

Most of our nights were full of prayers. I was angry with God on why He allowed her to go.

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George Ikua

Occupation: ICT Entrepreneur

His wife Janet Kanini, former TV personality, succumbed to lung cancer after eight years of marriage, leaving George with two children.

“Ours was an explosive relationship. A coming together of two very strong and outgoing people, highly opinionated.

The things that made her happy, were the simplest. She loved nyama choma and going to cheap hotels.

One of the last things that brought me peace was in her last days; stubborn as ever, she turned around and said, “I made the right choice”.

And that’s what I live with.

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Tony Wachira

Occupation: Insurance Agent. Also a Rotarian, a mentor and a student

His wife Pauline died of cancer, leaving him with four children.

“When I spotted her the first time, there was something about her. I could not touch it but I could only sense it.

In the house, we did not need a radio because you could always tell where Pauline was.

TREATMENT

Every time before I go to bed, I always remember her, three years down the line and I thank God that today I remember her with joy.

Her countdown began while she was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. In 2013 we began our treatment journey in India.

The treatment was successful. We went to India in 2014 and we got a good report; even the doctors were surprised. Two months later, she developed breathing issues as climbing the stairs was a problem. A CT Scan revealed she had a blood clot in her lungs and the cancer had spread to her lungs. Two days before her death, she did not eat anything. On the day she even took a full cup of porridge and we went to hospital. Things turned from bad to worse and we realised she was not okay and died in our presence. That moment is very vivid in my mind, handling her body at that time. I was like “Is this true? What do I tell the children?”

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John Githoitho

Occupation: Businessman

He was married for 42 years, his wife Mary died of breast cancer.

“My wife was likeable. We always had visitors in our home because of her. She always supported me when I was a civil servant until I retired in 2007.

She died 10 years after I retired and that was very traumatising for me. Her character was witnessed during her funeral; it was wonderful and was attended by a lot of people.

BLOOD PRESSURE

I remember the first 16-20 hours of her death. She died on June 25, 2017. Our grandchildren had come to visit us in our city home.

I said I would take the key to the grandchildren since we were in our rural home but she insisted she would take it herself.

That night, I was called and told that she was not in a good state.

At 11pm, they took her to hospital and [I] went to see her in the morning. She was happy to see me.

COUNSELLING

Her blood sugar and pressure had gone up. So a combination of the two was where things went wrong.

As we took her to another hospital, I heard the neighbours who had accompanied us screaming and the nurse told me that she is gone.

I had to go to counselling to get back to myself.

She had adamantly refused to go for chemotherapy because she said she had friends who had gone through it and not survived.

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