Three years after losing his precious daughter, Kikaose Ebiye-Onyibe, former Delta State Commissioner for Information, Magnus Onyibe has released a book that dwells on the subject of dealing with grief arising from the loss of a child.
In the poignant, heart-breaking, yet hopeful and life-affirming memoir titled: ‘‘Beyond Loss and Grief: The Passage of Kikaose Ebiye-Onyibe, A Survivor’s Guide to Handling the Loss of a Child’’, Magnus Onyibe sought to leverage his family’s journey through grief, pain, acceptance, and the eventual celebration of a life to offer valuable counsel to families that have lost a child or those that will go through the experience in the future on how to deal with such a heart-rending loss.
The book opens with Onyibe introducing the reader to a trip he, his wife and their youngest child made to the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, where Kikaose was a second year law student, to retrieve her belonging after she passed away in a hospital in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Chapter 2 titled: ‘‘Eclipse’’ takes the reader back to the circumstances that led up to Kikaose’s death. Reading through this chapter, one is tempted to scream ‘‘how could all these have been allowed to happen?’’ as Onyibe recounts the litany of professional misconduct and negligence that ultimately led to the demise of his precious daughter at the tender age of 18 years.
While the book dwells mostly on his daughter and the life she lived, Onyibe sought to honour the lives of 20 other young people including children of public office holders, businessmen, celebrities and other citizens who were taken from their families in the prime of their youth
According to Onyibe, the pains from the untimely death of a child do not go away. A parent lives with it until they depart this world for the great beyond. However, he believes that a parent owe it to themselves and their departed child to grieve graciously.
He explains that ‘‘there is good grief and bad grief. Good grief entails accepting our loss and the emptiness we feel as a consequence but looking to go beyond that point to a place of healing and growth’’.
‘‘Grief, if well-handled can lead to healthy growth after a loss. We can achieve this by contextualizing our loss using the optics of the possibility that the tragedy could have been worse. If we lost a child, it could have been two. If we lost two children, it could have been three or four. No one prays for such a grievious tragedy as the loss of a child but when it happens, we must find a way to deal with it and continue to live and be productive.
‘‘But grief can be bad as well. This happens when we allow grief to fester by harbouring negative thoughts such as: ‘‘the world hates me’’ or ‘‘my enemies are trying to get me’’. Like a bad sore, when grief festers, it could lead to complications that might compromise our health’’.
Onyibe also suggested that besides contextualizing the loss, families could grieve graciously and heal faster using the apparatus of family bonding. ‘‘Family bonding after the loss of a loved one can be therapeutic. It is critical because it allows grieving family members to reconnect emotionally with one another and serve as one another’s support to better cope with the loss. Ideally, this should take place in a location outside the usual home setting’’
In the later part of the book, Onyibe points out some common mistakes that parents sending their children abroad – particularly to the UK – should avoid. The content of this section of the book are intended to serve as an advocacy for the protection of the precious lives of our young people who leave Nigeria to study in foreign lands, away from the watchful eyes of their parents. It is aimed at enlightening both the young people concerned and their parents on how to avoid suffering the type of tragedy which Onyibe and his family have been coping with over the last three years.