Did dad fail me…?

It’s important that you know that I’m writing this from my own perspective. My personal feelings, experience(s) and own reflection.

As some of you already know, my mum died when I was 9. And after she died it felt like she died and that was it. We never spoke about her. Nobody ever initiated a talk that involved her in our household.

I tried on few occasions but I usually got vague responses and so we never had a meaningful successful talk about her. Now older and finding healing I try to poke and suck out information about mum from anyone I knew was close to her every opportunity I get. Sometimes I succeed. And sometimes with people like my dad I don’t usually succeed.

So I guess just like in most families, relatives or the extended family jump in and take charge where they are able. And sometimes consciously or unconsciously they take full charge without clear communication. Mine was no exception. Extended family literally jumped in to help my dad. A young widower with 5 little kids. The eldest been 10 and youngest been 2.

So my siblings and I were drifted apart. One taken by one relative and the other by another. We barely heard from one another. We were mostly in different towns.

So after my mums demise, my elder brother and I were directly taken to boarding school miles away. We stayed in one boarding school together for a year and before we could adjust to the new school we were separated. Pap! we landed in different schools.

I was admitted to a girls boarding school in Kerugoya. And my brother in a mixed boarding school in the same town. I remember we went for a whole year without seeing each other or hearing from each other.

Those were the days not everyone had a telephone. My dad had a cheap mobile phone that he mostly used to only receive calls. But even this been the case, I can’t remember having phone call conversations with my siblings or anyone else for that matter.

If you have been to a boarding school in Kenya then you know the system. We had only 3 long breaks in a year where we could go home. They were mostly 3-4weeks long. So during these breaks I found myself at an aunties or uncles place. I would ask where my siblings were and of course they were at another relatives place and sometimes home with dad.

When we were lucky to be in the same city, we saw each other after church service because our relatives happened to go to the same church. We met on other rare occasions. Some cousins birthday or an extended family gathering.

What I‘m trying to say is this whole experience affected me in little and major ways and the relationship and bond between me and my family was somehow indifferent. At times the mere connection I felt we had was just blood.

How we related to each other was different. Now as an adult and observing closely I see my relationship with my siblings and theirs with each other would have been better if we were not tossed around the way we were.

Don’t get confused, we love each other very much. We would literally climb mountains and swim oceans to see each other happy and content. Maybe after all, this experience(s) made us even stronger.

I‘m probably drifting from my point which is, parents should actively communicate with their kids authentically and with intention about even those situations that seem small and insignificant in their eyes but to the child they aren’t. Parents of more than one child should see to it that their children grow lovingly together if it is within their power.

Which should actually be so because again, having children should be a decision or choice you soberly make. Reminds me of this article I wrote way back (https://wanjirusworld.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/__trashed-3/)

I don’t blame my dad or my relatives for how my childhood was laid out. They all just had the best interests for us, I trust. I only wish I/we was/were given space to feel and deal with the loss of someone so close and loving and that someone literally and intentionally talked to us about our mum every now and then. Then probably I would have one less demon to deal with till date.

I feel it is important to know that in such situations when a child looses a parent, there is much more important things like mental health of the child than a better school. (I mean you can also give both if you proactively learn to also listen to the feelings and needs of your child).

A child can get great grades but if they are mentally unstable they will only derail in other significant aspects of their life. Mostly trauma experienced during childhood will manifest itself sooner or even later in life. It is very sad to see grown ups still stuck up in loss (could be anything) that happened while they were children.

Parents should help their children to fight some demons earlier in life than later. I know there is no recipe of how to live life, but I‘m a strong believer that each and everyone has some power to change at least one thing around them.

Have you ever gone through a certain kind of loss as a child and if yes is there anything you think would have been done that would have helped you then but wasn’t done?

How do you deal with loss? Do you think sometimes relatives overstep while trying to help? Please let me know below.


  • nelly_njuguna

    Great read. I feel like its okay for you to seek closure and sometimes it ain’t easy. It is a slow and sure process when you are patient with yourself. .but remember we grieve differently…. Probably your dad hasn’t healed much from it so he finds it difficult to talk about it. And parting you guys was the only way he could take care of you guys without you lacking.

    Another perspective could be our parent’s upbringing or times were much different from ours. Our generation approves of open communication between parents and kids…. Theirs is much different. Such that when a niece or nephew speaks their mind to the relatives at some point it’s viewed as disrespect. But yes, parents should have open communication

    And no, daddy didn’t fail you. He tried the best possible way to deal with the grief and look out for his babies in the best way he knew how. It probably doesn’t bring you much closure but I hope this makes you feel better and I hope dad will open up about it some day.

    With love, Nelly.

    • Ciru

      Thank you Nelly. That is a very well thought out response and it’s comforting. You highlighted so much truth and I have already probably made peace with daddy never talking about it although it bothers me at times. I respect how everyone griefs and copes with loss and my insights were pointed out to how we can do it better now while raising our kids. I‘m forever grateful for dad taking care of us with the help of relatives and seeing to it that we didn’t lack.

  • Ciku

    This I can relate because I have walked in your shoes. I know how it feels when no one mentions about what you want to hear. When no one cares about how you are feeling, sorry to say so. And no one cares how you will heal and get to stand again….. One thing I still wish is that whoever takes over to look after kids once they lose someone close, is that they would take the healing journey with them. They should listen to them and make them know that it’s not gonna be easy but it’s doable…. Thanks for the piece swtie

    • Ciru

      I know sweetie and I feel you 💯. It definitely feels like no one cares, which might not be the case. People forget easily or they think if they talk about such stuff they are making the wounds deeper which is not usually so. If anything at all it makes it easier for the child to understand what pain and grief is and gives the child the opportunity to know where it came from. Get to know the parent even though they died. I wish the same as you that whoever takes over the children in this case would be more engaging and helpful towards the child’s healing.

  • Mary Kariithi

    I think we live in a society where some topics such as death and sex are seen as an abomination. Additionally, parents /caregivers tend to think that children should be shown the way without giving them a chance to air out what they wish for mainly because they are kids and do not know much. This has made it difficult for children to understand what happens around them thus affecting how they establish and sustain relationships with others. It makes them lose trust and confidence in their loved ones because they feel like they were failed. It’s okay to feel like this!
    But then again, it is only fair to understand that it is like a culture. Those who came before us do things the way they learnt from their parents and from the society at large. Other parents conceal information as a way of protecting children from being hurt. The level of exposure and interaction with people who hold different perspectives on these issues is low if not none for them. This means that there is little potential for change. However, I could not agree more with your piece. We should engage children by telling them what is going on, why and how to cope with different issues. As a parent, it’s okay to tell your child that you are sad, that you also miss that loved one who is no more, that you do not know how to deal with the loss etc. This doesn’t make you weak! It makes you human. Actually a human with so much strength! Let us change the world for our children. I advocate for open communication between parents /caregivers and children. But while doing that, let us consider the following :
    1. Can children handle some truths about what they want to know? Or will the truth destroy them?
    2. Timing. What is the right age for a child to be told about certain issues?
    Is the parent /caregiver ready?

    • Ciru

      We always say that, oh but that is how our society is. But truth is, we are the ones who continue to support its set up. We take on from where our forefathers left and feel like they were right. I‘m glad most of us have realized that they can already change the set up by speaking up and by voicing that whatever they were taught must not have been right and there is always another way to do things.
      I advocate to engage our children more on whatever the world is about at their young age and always tell them the truth however hard we might think it will be for them. How else will they learn to tell the truth and to handle it? I don’t see how the truth can destroy a child if the way of delivery is mature and if they are guided every step of the way. Children can withstand and digest a lot to our surprise.

      • Mary Kariithi

        I get where you are coming from sweetheart. But sometimes the truth is too much to handle. This can be assessed based on individual cases. Have you ever had someone tell you that they wish they didn’t know the truth about certain things in their life because it has affected them negatively? Well, I personally have.
        Putting loss aside and considering other issues of concern among children , all I’m saying is that there are many factors that should be considered. And I agree that some of the things and ways that we found our predecessors believing in are not right. It’s alright to challenge the system. This is how change comes.

  • Loise

    In the African culture,children’s emotions are ignored hence few people help them when losses occur. I however think that times are changing n we are improving positively. I also think that you should engage your dad n ask him some questions about the same issue so that you can understand him. Now that you’ve worn the Shoe n know where it hurts am sure you can be able to assist other babies. A nice read

    • Ciru

      Hi Loise thank you for your thoughts. I could still still try again and again to engage dad in this line of conversation but if he is still not ready which still seems the case then there is only much success I can get. I‘m glad for experiencing this firsthand and I can only hope to do better for other babies, my babies.

  • Wamwangi

    Hey there sweetie, change is hard and more so when you need answers and no one seems to supply them. We all deal with life in different ways. Nobody’s way is more right or better, things are just different. Some people look at a glass as half full while others can describe the same contents as the glass being half empty, both right just looking at things from different perspective.

    As you have mentioned yourself, our parents, your parents were raised different and it’s more easier and or comfortable to do things either how you were taught or how you observed others doing it. Not only were children not heard, it wan’t common and it still isn’t even today to share deep emotional stuff. Are they wrong, not really, just have a different way of doing or dealing with things. Are we right for wanting things in the open, more discussion with our folks, to us we feel we are but to them they might feel that we are wrong for doing things different than they are used to or are comfortable with. I think the biggest and more beneficial thing for everyone is to first understand each others perspective and try and give and take a little from each other’s generation. I agree with parent’s need to discuss things with their children but we gotta proceed with caution so they don’t feel like we’re calling them bad parents or as if we’re looking down on their parenting. Believe you me even today’s kids with all the parents being open and stuff, they still have other issues to deal with. Hope this helps at some level. I pray you find the answers you seek, I pray you get to that place where your dad will finally be comfortable enough to deal with the past, I pray that even if you don’t get all the answers you seek, God will give you Grace (kinda like your name) to get through it, to find closure, to embrace your life and family just as. Love you and wish you well

    • Ciru

      This is awesome and brought me to tears. Coming from a family member it even means so much more. I hear you and I understand you. Every sentence. People like you make it easier for people like us.
      Thank you

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