Crack in the Dam: Where Healing Begins

Sep 16 , 2023
By Eden Sahle

I spent most of my last week with the family of my former colleague who passed away recently.

Understandably, her untimely passing devastated everyone who knew her but her husband's grief was a raging storm tearing through his heart and soul. She left behind an infant and a toddler.

He was consumed by a maelstrom of fury, sorrow, and bewilderment and vented unstintingly and openly; desiring nothing more than to have her back. It was heartrending to witness him traverse the depths of unremitting woe.

Many people prevented him from weeping, telling him that he should be man enough to accept the loss; focusing on respectfully seeing off the visitors who had come to pay their respect.

They attempted to quell his tempestuous emotions, advising him to maintain his composure for the sake of his children despite the tragedy. He is a responsible father who ensures that his children are fed, entertained, and nurtured. But they did not understand that he was also a grieving husband who lost the woman he thought would grow old with him.

While I stood vigil alongside him, he spoke of life and his young children in ways that might have startled those who have not experienced the sudden loss of a loved one. For me, it is close to home as I also lost my father unexpectedly a little over a year and a half ago.

It took me over a year to come to terms with the reality, all the while being shattered and bewildered. I subsisted on a small portion of roasted wholegrain and a cup of coffee for 90 days, caring less about my hygiene.

Close friends thought I had lost my mind while I had a near-death experience at the hands of medical professionals. Thankfully, my then-fiancé, who is now my husband, was aware that my recovery would be a lengthy process.

He was willing to put up with me even though I repeatedly attempted to break off our engagement so that he could move on with his life rather than be miserable with me. He was never offended by my irrational statement.

I was fortunate to have him as a beacon of light, guiding me through my heartache. He listened without judgment and allowed me to express my emotions freely, reminding me that my hopelessness was temporary and that I would eventually heal, no matter how long it took.

Unlike many people, he believed that I could not simply snap out of my grief just because I wanted to and helped me understand that grief is not something to be ashamed of but a natural human response to loss.

Now that I have emerged from the darkness, I am grateful that I allowed myself to fully express my emotions and sorrow on a daily basis.

Emotions are meant to be expressed to truly heal from grief. When suppressed, it can fester and manifest in harmful ways similar to a wound. Concealing sorrow is not a sign of strength but fear of being vulnerable.

Neuroscientific and psychological studies have shown that people who repress their grief are more likely to experience depression and develop unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.

They argue that emotions are not under our conscious control. The vagus nerve, one of the body's main emotional centres, reacts to triggers in the midbrain by sending signals to the heart, lungs, and intestines which then prepare the body to take appropriate and immediate action for survival.

It is only by allowing ourselves to mourn that we can truly heal. Validating our sadness is not only a natural process for overcoming it but also a skill that allows us to release grief in a non-destructive way.

Although surroundings may force us to "stay strong" and "put on a brave face" during a loss, we should allow ourselves to grieve openly and honestly and seek support from loved ones or professionals.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 16,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1220]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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