podcast / Young & windowed / Dating And Remarriage After Loss Of Spouse

February 28, 2022

Can I Survive The Loss Of A Spouse? | In Every Season

with Abimbola Shotade

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ON THIS EPISODE OF IN EVERY SEASON
In this episode the host of ‘In Every Season’ shares her journey into widowhood, and facing the reality of life after loss.

LISTEN TO THE "Can I Survive The Loss of A Spouse"

ABOUT THE GUEST
Abimbola Shotade

My name is Abimbola Shotade. I have three children, ages,2, 4, 9. I was married for coming up to ten years at the point my husband passed away; so, if you can do the maths, it means we got married really young, at 21.

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"Can I Survive The Loss Of A Spouse? " TRANSCRIPT

Dear Readers,  

 Some words may differ from the actual podcast recording for ease of reading. 

This story is extremely special to me as it is my story and journey so far, a year into widowhood.

I have been avoiding telling my story, but I hope it will be helpful to those out there that hear it, that’s the reason I’m telling it, it’s because I feel led to it, and there are so many things on this journey that I hope might be helpful to people.

If you’re going through pain from loss or just from an event in your life, I hope I can inspire you in knowing that though the pain doesn’t go away, there’s healing within it.  Not everything is good, but there is good within everything. 

My name is Abimbola Shotade. I have three children, ages,2, 4, 9. I was married for coming up to ten years at the point my husband passed away; so, if you can do the maths, it means we got married really young, at 21. 

We were silly and in love, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because I feel like we got to maximise the time that we had together…And although we didn’t know how things would turn out at that point, we just entered it in faith and God brought us through.

To be married at that age as well was not an easy thing to do but we thank God.  

The first question I always ask my guests is how they met their late spouse… 

How I met my husband.

I was at university; I think I was 18. I lived with my aunty at that point and I called her during the day because I was upset about something, so she asked me to meet her for lunch and from there we’d go home together.

I went to meet her at a restaurant which I actually recommended because I had seen it in passing going to university and going to work and I thought it looked like a nice place, and I thought we should try it.

We went there and we ordered food and while we were waiting, my aunty looks at this guy serving and taking orders and she said, “that looks like the kind of guy you should date.”  

I was thinking oh no, just rolling my eyes and thinking this woman has come again. So, she asked me, “Abimbola, what’s your number?”, and I said, “I’m not giving it to you.” Then my aunty took out her phone, and called this guy over and started interrogating him, and asking him questions.

“What’s your name? How old are you?”, all the different questions and he was answering but he was a bit apprehensive, and then she told him, “Oh no, it’s not for me, it’s for my niece here…” and I was just mortified.

I didn’t say anything, I didn’t even make any eye contact. She continued talking to him and took my number from her phone and gave it to him. At this point, I left to get us a cab, because it was an embarrassing situation, and I picked my aunty up from the restaurant and we went home.

I didn’t really interact with him at all during that initial encounter. When I got home, I thought it was the polite thing to do, to text him to just apologise for my aunt’s craziness, and to be fair he was very good looking so it’s not like I didn’t notice that, but I don’t think at that time in my life I wanted a serious relationship or anything; I was at a point where I just wanted to face my studies, so I wasn’t really looking. 

I texted this guy and said, “I’m sorry for my aunty, she can be a bit embarrassing sometimes…”, and then that’s just how the conversation opened up and we started talking back and forth.

We got to know each other, we went out, and I remember, I think on our first date, I was just thinking, I’m never going to see this guy again after this… We went to the cinema and it just wasn’t what I was expecting, and I thought, that’s it, I’m going to politely say goodbye, and then I’m never going to see him again.

I think on the bus journey home, that’s when something switched. He offered to see me off home…he took the bus with me and we started talking and that’s when we really clicked. I remember our hearts just connecting in that moment.

It’s weird to say that, but when you’ve written someone off and you think, that’s it, but then you actually just stop and talk to them and figure out you actually like them, it’s a different experience. He was sharing with me his life experiences and I was sharing with him mine, and we just connected and from then on, we were together.

At the beginning he was so sweet, he’d bring food for me and would be outside my window, he would call me and ask me to come outside and I’d go and get the food that he brought. He’d always bring my favourite dishes, and then he’d just go home… he just came to me to drop off food!

With time, we grew together; 21 we got married, we didn’t have any money in our pocket, we had nothing, but we had love and we had God, and I guess it somehow got us through. So, that was the beginning of our journey. 

How my journey into widowhood started… 

On the 31stof August2018, I woke up in the morning as usual, got the kids ready for their daily activities, it was the end of summer, so getting ready for back to school and I went to work.

My sister had been helping me look after the children for the summer; my husband worked away from home; so, he was away a few days and he’d be back a few days and vice versa. He had been away for a couple of days, so I was due to see him in two days or so. 

I went to work and usually on my way to work I would speak to a friend, and we’d talk, we’d laugh, we’d pray together, but this morning I just didn’t want to speak to anyone. I wanted that quiet trip to work. I was just listening to worship music and just worshipping in the car.

I got to the office and we had a quarterly meeting that morning, from 8:30am to 9:00am I think. I remember going back to the office and talking to my colleagues, and as I was about to put my laptop into the dock, I got a call from home, and I thought, it must be an emergency because I had just left and they wouldn’t call me this early. 

I answered and my sister told me that there were police at the door, and I thought, what? police? I was thinking of all the different reasons that the police could’ve been at my door and I couldn’t think of one. So, I asked her to put them on the phone to me and at that moment, the phone cut out. 

I tried to call her back and I was calling back for another ten, or fifteen minutes and just in a panic as the phone rang.

I just said a little prayer to God, that I can’t deal with this anymore, I am so worried, my kids are at home…I called again and my sister answered, and she was quiet upset but had passed the phone to the police who asked, “Can you give us your place of work?”

“We need to speak to you”, and I asked, “what’s happened”, and they said, “we just need to speak to you”, and I asked if everybody at home was kay? And they said, “everybody in your home is okay”, and I said, “oh my gosh, something has happened”. 

They asked again for my work address, and I told them, “I’m shaking as it is, and it would take you from my house thirty-five minutes to get to me, and I won’t be able to manage, please just tell me…” 

I think they gave the phone to my sister, whom they had already told, which was why when she heard, she hung up the phone and tried to put herself together. My sister told me, 

“he’s been involved in a fatal car accident…” I think I just stopped. I started screaming. 

I work in an office with a few hundred people and I was in a really big meeting room on the phone, and everybody in the building heard me. I just dropped the phone to the ground.

I screamed, and screamed and I couldn’t say anything, I didn’t have any words when people came up to find out what was wrong, I just repeated, “I want my husband… I want my husband…” 

The people that I worked with, the facilities, my boss and my colleagues, came and had pick my phone from where it was to find out what the problem was.

After that episode of screaming, I was rocking back and forth calling for my husband… after a while I just stopped. I think I just stopped talking for a number of hours, I was just watching. Even when the police finally got to me, I was just looking, I didn’t understand, I just thought, no, it’s a mistake.  

Then, I started calling my family members, they had already heard, probably before me, so they were crying, and I told them to stop crying and to check that he’s not around and about. I asked my stepdad to go and check that he’s not in different place she might usually frequent or maybe he fell asleep elsewhere… 

That was the day that thrust me into the journey of widowhood. I couldn’t have predicted or expected it, but I know coming home that day and thinking, what? my life has changed…

Some words may differ from podcast for ease of reading. 

I remember, the police took me to the hospital to go and see my husband and coming home, there were family and friends at the house, and I think I just went up to bed. I remember the faces that I saw at the foot of my bed; my pastor, my church family, my parents and friends just sitting at the foot of my bed looking at me and me look at them. 

I just have this memory of this picture of us by my bedside from a wedding that we had gone to together, I think the weekend before and I remember at that wedding my husband saw the photographer taking pictures and he chased him down and said, “take a picture of me and my wife”, and we took that picture.

When we got home from the wedding, I had left the picture in the car for a couple days and when I brought it out of the car, I thought, my husband wouldn’t be happy about me leaving this picture in the car, so I had it by the bedside, and that was the last picture of us taken together.

So, what did it feel like in the initial days? 

I can’t fully describe it, but a year later, I can only say that I didn’t die of a broken heart and I didn’t die of sadness; but the feelings were so intense, I just thought my life was over. It wasn’t even a feeling of my life being over, but it was like the ground underneath me just collapsed, and all my hopes and all my dreams with it.  

It’s not that I have my hopes and dreams dependent on a person, but you have to remember that we were married for ten years, so there were things that we had built and things that we had sacrificed so that it would be good later and so that we would reap the benefits of our labour later down the line.

And even just that companionship…imagine being with somebody for over twelve or thirteen years and all of a sudden, they’re not there anymore, you don’t get to touch them, you don’t get to feel them. My husband was very caring and loving towards me.

I remember when we crossed the roads, he would always hold my hand, and so, I remember a few weeks after his passing, I had to go out and do somethings, and a friend of ours from church took me in his car.

 

When we got out of the car, I just instinctively reached out, for that hand to be held, but there was nobody there, and then I thought, oh my gosh, that’s not there anymore, my husband’s not here anymore.  

With regards to the kids, my son who was 8 at the time, I will never forget his reaction, he just started crying when I told him and every night my kids used to cry when they went to bed. It was horrible. I used to think, God, even if I could deal with this, but what about these beautiful children…  

It was hard, it was dark, and even thinking about that season, at its fresh point… it’s a blur, but it’s not; I can feel the emotions, all the  raw emotions that came with it, all the hard stuff, the sadness, the hopelessness.

I don’t think in my life I’ve ever felt hopeless. Things have happened in life and I’ve felt hopeless for a period, but I would think of solutions and have the mindset that it can be good. But this was the first time in my life that I actually felt the true meaning of hopelessness. I felt that was it, my life was over. 

In that, what I remember was that God was so faithful, even when I didn’t want to speak to him or when I didn’t have any words to say because when something like that happens, praying is not something that you want to do immediately…I didn’t pray for a number of months.

Even then, the prayers then consisted of crying, and lamentations; so, God was so faithful, he sent people from everywhere. The church family stood up for me, people in the community supported me in various different ways.

When I couldn’t get out of bed people would come and clean and bring meals and would check on me and would come to play with the children, as well as lifting me up in prayer. It was amazing and it was such a humbling feeling to know that people have taken time out if their lives to help me and think of me.  

However, as time starts to go, people have to leave, they have to go back to work and they have to go back to normalcy, and even for you, you have to get some sort of normality, so after the first few months of me with the children alone and getting back into a routine, we began to develop a new normal.

What it would look like was that I would drop them to school or preschool and I would just fall come home and apart. There were days that I wouldn’t shower for days on end, there was just no light for me but even in that God was still faithful.

I remember a particular day when I took the kids to school and came home to cry and I was just thinking, what can I get for them, I need some chicken to make… and then not more than an hour later and I hear the doorbell ring and there was this older lady and she just says, “I just felt that I needed to bring you some chicken, I hope it would be helpful”, she didn’t bring anything else she just brought the chicken.

I had said that in my mind and I just thought wow and said, God thank you. I was angry but I still thought God, I see what you’re doing. There was another time, I went to our life group which is bible study in the evenings for church and just to be able to see people and so that the church family could encourage me with the words.

They’d come and pick me up and we’d go. Like I said before, my husband was very loving and kind towards me, so when we’d go out or even at home, he would take off my jacket, or help me with my shoes, those gently manly type things…

I was so disgruntled that day and I thought, who’s going to help me with my jacket, who’s going to open doors for me, who’s going to do all of those things for me, Lord. Yes, people can help, but they’re not going to do all of those things.

I was just angry, and this was an internal battle. I remember when I got to life group, I took off my jacket, went to sit down, had  a cup of tea, we shared the word, and then it was time to go home, and as I was going home, one of the gentle men in the life group  got my jacket for me and held it out so I could put my arms in it, exactly what I had been complaining about that day, I did that and I thought, God, I see what you’re doing, I know, but I’m still angry. 

For me, now looking back, it was all just God’s way of showing me that, though your husband is not here, I’m going to be your husband, I can use people to do things that you need done; and really, God has shown up in that way. If it is a friend, he uses somebody, if it is somebody that I need, he uses somebody. It is really that daily provision.

It brings me to the story in the bible of the Israelites, when they were in the wilderness who were complaining that they didn’t have anything to eat and God gave them manna and quail. It was a daily thing that they would have to go and ask for; if they took any extra, it wouldn’t last until the next day, or it would go bad. 

Readings to consider 

Exodus 16

In those experiences that I have had, God has shown me, he will be my sustenance each day, whatever it is that you need in each day, you may not find it in one person, but I will use many people and you will not lack in those things, you will not lack in those areas. That’s how I see that he is still good to me.   

Our last daughter was born on September 13th, 2017and my husband’s funeral was on the 13th of September a year later 2018. I look back to this time last year and I remembered at that point during the funeral and I thought of a year prior.

 I remembered the joy that we had holding our baby and how thankful we were to God, and then now, it is a different situation where, we were here in church celebrating the life that my husband had. 

Something just clicked in me, and not during the funeral but some months down the line, that if God was good then, in all the things that we’ve praised God for, he is still good, so even in the situation as painful as it is, there’s still goodness.

It’s not good that you lose a loved one, it’s not good that you lose your spouse, or your children don’t have a father, it’s not good, but outside of that, God will still be good to us and it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love us, or he doesn’t care about us anymore because this bad thing has happened. 

That was a journey that I had to go on in my faith to realise that because a bad thing happened to me doesn’t mean that I’m not loved.  Honestly, I still struggle with that from time to time. God is so faithful in sending reminders; be it people, be it things, to just let me know that I am loved, and that has been such a pillar of strength to me, just to know that I am loved, by someone somewhere.

I am loved by my friends and family and my community as well, but I’m also shown in those surprises I receive out of the blue that reminds me that I am not forgotten. It’s not because you don’t love me that this has happened to me, it’s not because you want me to be miserable or see me suffer, that this has happened, but there’s still goodness that you’re showing to me and my children. 

Another occurrence that happened was when we were going to our pastor’s wife’s 50th birthday. That day, my phone wasn’t working properly, the navigation system in my car I thought was working, but apparently, wasn’t.

So, we set the navigation to the address and I followed it. My phone wasn’t working so I couldn’t use the map on my phone. All of a sudden, I realised; we’re lost.

I had the kids in the back of the car waiting for the party asking, “when are we going to be there…”, but I was lost, I was going in a different direction and I was scared and frustrated.

I started thinking, if my husband were here this wouldn’t have happened. When we’d go on trips, I would navigate, and he would drive and I’m doing this by myself. I’m lost and my phone is not working, and I don’t know what to do and I’m lost; how am I going to get where I’m going… I was just crying, and my kids had to console me, telling me, “Mummy, it’s okay… it’s alright… mummy calm down…”, I was a mess, I was just crying and driving.

I was so upset, that if my husband were here, this wouldn’t have happened and my phone wasn’t working, so I couldn’t call anybody, I couldn’t navigate. I tried to follow the directions to the town, which was a town I didn’t know.

I thought I would get to the town and maybe stop at a petrol station or ask someone for directions. I managed to turn back around from where I was going in the wrong direction and navigate back to the town.

When I got into the town, it was a straight road, so I was driving and wondering where was the best place to stop and ask for directions.

Ahead of me there was a roundabout so I thought there may be a filling station ahead, but something just says look to the left; so, I guess that was the voice of the holy spirit, and I look to the left and my eyes caught the name of the place that I was actually going to, so I just thought, wow, thank you God.

I turned left and went there, and that was it. Ina town that I didn’t know, and it wasn’t like the location was on the high street, but God saw me through even when I was a mess and I didn’t know where I was going. I just thought to share that story.

There’s been so many other stories, but at this moment, a year later, I’m very thankful for how God has brought me through. It hasn’t been that God has brought me through and I’m okay and that’s the end; there are days, ups and downs and somethings that I need to work out, but there’s been so much healing in this year, and when look back to the same time last year, I thank God, because I didn’t die of a broken heart.

I didn’t die, but sometimes my heart felt like it’s breaking from the inside out. I just thank God that I’m still here and there’s still purpose for me, and as time goes on, I’m understanding that there is purpose for me, and even that purpose is not just only that I have my kids to live for, I do yes, but there’s purpose specifically for me, there’s a plan that God has for me. 

Another thing I thought might be interesting to speak about was memories. I remember, initially, all the memories that I had with my husband; I remember speaking to one of my friends, Tope, whom we spoke to in the first episode (about xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx).

He was the husband to a friend of mine who passed away three years ago, and I remember saying to him some months after, what do I do with the memories?

There are twelve, thirteen years of memories, what do I do with them, I cannot just wipe them so that I don’t feel this pain, but now a year later, it’s taken a process, because some are still painful, but initially when I think of these things, I would feel so sorry for them and what I had, I would never have that again, I would never have that experience again and it was bitter.

I think Dayo, (who shared on xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) in our last episode mentioned it, that he would go back into the chats for him and his late wife, just to have that feeling of what it felt like, and that’s exactly how it feels for me.

I would just go back in my memory to some point in time and I would just feel the emotions from that time and just embrace them and savour them. I might end up with a tear or two or three, but I’m enjoying the memories, I’m savouring them, I’m keeping them close.

When I miss my husband, I look at the pictures, I savour those memories and feel them, and I remember that I had them, I had that experience and it was… it’s not now, but it was. My memories are a gift from God, to be able to feel and remember and recall that experience.  

Again, looking back a year later, at that time, I thought my life was over and that it was finished, but now I see that it’s just in a different phase, a different chapter.

As long as I still have breath, there’s still purpose for me, and that gives me hope for the future, which lets me know that there’s a reason for my life and as much as sometimes it feels difficult to deal with the things that life throws at you, I know that there’s still purpose for me, and if I can help anybody in any way, that also helps me know that it is fulfilling for me.  

I hope you’ve enjoyed my story, I’m glad I finally got to it. 

In conclusion, of my story for this episode (on xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx), what really resonates with me is that you really have to open your eyes to see the glory of God. The Glory of God is everywhere, every day, mercies are new every morning, there’s always something to be thankful for and that gratitude has helped me on this journey so far, just being thankful.  

It also keeps me sensitive to the things that God is doing, so I find when you don’t have the spirit of gratitude, it’s like your eyes are closed to the glory of God, but when you’re thankful, your senses open up and you can see other things, all the good. Not everything is good but there will be good in everything. 

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