Former TV presenter Janet Kanini’s husband, Mr. George Ikua, remembers his last moments with the TV personality. Five other recently widowed men also recount the painful experiences of breaking the news to their children and how they coped in the weeks and months after the death of their wives.
In the second and last part of the Widowers series in NTVs show Victoria’s Lounge show, the six widowers tell of life after the death of their wives.
Occupation: ICT Entrepreneur
Wife Janet Kanini, former TV personality, succumbed to lung cancer after eight years of marriage, leaving George with two children.
Trust Janet gone April fools. March 17 was our daughter’s birthday; Janet had been really doing badly. The whole month of March, she was in hospital but convinced the doctors to allow her to come home for her daughter’s birthday. That was her final strength. When the guests left, I had to carry her upstairs.
I took her to hospital the next day and she said she needed to focus on her healing in time for her son’s birthday on April 5. She did not want any visitors except me. Her last 24 hours, on Friday morning she asked me to focus on work.
I bought flowers in Hurlingham and took two pictures of the children to surprise her in hospital. Later that day, I got a call to visit the hospital that Janet was out of control, yelling and screaming.
As I was getting ready to go, I called again thinking that if she heard my voice she would calm down but nobody was picking up. They finally picked up and he said “I am sorry.” I called a friend who drove me to the hospital. I found they had removed her from the wards and put her on the stretcher in another room preparing to transfer her to the morgue. I stormed into the room and I will never forget she had this look of defiance. She had fought till the end.
I got home and told my children; “Mummy is with the Lord,” my son said “So she is dead?” and walked out while my daughter insisted on seeing her. by then the whole country knew what was happening.
For me, the last five months has been extreme anger. I even got angry at her for going. I felt anger because there is no prayer that we didn’t pray, for the general healthcare system and general anger for the fact that she never lived to see her children. It was especially difficult to mourn publicly, I was not only grieving but also playing to the court of public opinion.
What I realised, was that my seven-year-old son is exactly like his mother. My daughter never really got the gravity of her death. We decided we would have my son’s birthday anyway. The massive pain is that there is a 7-year-old and 3-year-old who will never see their mother again.
I have been lucky to have a support network of three people. Our friend Norah, my nanny of seven years has held down the house and my sister who stepped up to help us. When the house helps rearranged the house and removed all of Janet’s clothes, packed into paper bags and stashed into drawers , I broke down completely.
Occupation: Actor/Biker based in Mombasa
His wife Druscillah Walowe died in May this year while giving birth to their second born son.
The most important thing for me was to have a good support system. One person that I will single out was my mother who was very good friends with my wife Dru. She sacrificed and moved in to my house to take care of our infant Darrel so that I could work.
Another way of coping is that I busy myself a lot. I try not to be idle. I used to be a very fun-loving person and I do not want to change that.
I also try to keep the same routine I had when Dru was around. For example, we used to have date nights every single Wednesday, I try to keep that as well. There will never be a replacement for Dru.
Even if I ever settle down with anyone, she will never be the mother to my boys. I am taking it a day at a time. I am also trying to fix my relationship with God. Dru loved this lesso I am wearing now. The early morning that we walked out of the house, I remember she wrapped this around herself.
The interesting bit is the message on this lesso Mungu uinuliwe kwani siku hii ni ya kipekee (God is exalted in this special day). I never read the message until the 23rd when I was given the news. When she was getting out of the car when we were getting to hospital she gave me this and asked me to hold it for her. I feel her spirit in my son, because he is always jovial, like his mother.
Lost his wife Betty Kariuki while she was expecting their first children, who were triplets.
From the word go, I knew I had to engage myself. I knew I had to keep myself busy. Initially I would travel a lot, pack a few things into the car, drive somewhere and check into a hotel with a book. A critical support is very important.
My sister moved in to stay with me for a year. That really helped a lot. My family stood by me and I have friends who would text me almost on a daily basis. That would really keep me going and give me strength to face another day.
The loss of a loved one, with whom you had a daily routine, is the worst experience you can ever go through. We had a routine to have brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Then suddenly you wake up on Sunday, I want to go to church but I cannot, as I cannot face that moment without her.
Occupation: Chief executive and Founder, Palms Decors
Wife Sheila Alwala died of breast cancer, leaving him with two sons
My church, CITAM Karen stood with me, sent people to the house to pray with us. The full entourage of the pastoral team was there for me and my last born Jabez. My last born Jabez would ask me “Now that mummy has gone to heaven, when am I following her?”
My first born, an adolescent, who felt that part of his mother going, was also part of me going. It became a battle to some point where we did not see each other eye to eye. But I thank God through the journey, he began to understand that life has to move on.
The first night I went to our bedroom I was alone, I couldn’t sleep, I had to sleep with my last born. I have never accepted until today. People tell me that I am strong, but I wish they knew what I go through. I couldn’t even concentrate watching TV, seated on the seat we used to sit on together. I would find myself talking to myself thinking I was talking to her.
Occupation: Insurance Agent. Also a Rotarian, a mentor and a studentof counselling psychologist.
His wife Pauline died of cancer, leaving him with four children.
The needs and demands of children keep you on your toes. They have to eat and go to school and life has to go on for everyone.
When they go to sleep, I go to bed alone and that is where the absence hits you, you can almost touch it. One of the heartbreaking moments was to see the children- especially our eldest- when he would break down and saying he misses his mother. You have to let him cry because incidentally, crying is very therapeutic. I am happy, three years later, he is getting over it. Our youngest, who was too young (three years) when the mother went, still cries sometimes.
I encourage them, anytime they miss mum and they feel like crying, they should just cry because it is okay to cry. My presence has to be at home more than ever before, when they are out in school, I am with them. Death is a reality, and until we understand and accept that life has a beginning and end, then coping and healing will become very difficult. The question we used to ask God was “Why” we now realise that God is powerful and Pauline went because God allowed it. I now realise that Pauline was a gift, God brought that angel in my life.
He was married 42 years, his wife Mary died of breast cancer
I was so traumatised to be alone after 42 years, because the children have their own families. The biggest problem came from friends and other people. Every time I met them, they would say “pole” and they would remind me.
The counsellor told me that while I would not prevent people from saying that, I should instead have a positive attitude towards them. Another problem is that I came to do things I was not doing before. Now I have to feed and take care of the chicken. The counselling was really helpful.
The needs and demands of children keep you on your toes.