In Renk town, Renk County, Upper Nile State, November 2012: We heard a neighbor wailing in the evening, sharing her anguish, wondering who would support her now?

In Gosfami, Geiger County, Upper Nile State, 2012: One of my team’s Hygiene Promoters, a young woman, motivated and smart, died in childbirth.

In Renk town, Renk County, Upper Nile State, February 2013: A neighbor drew a crowd by wailing in the street for an hour on a Sunday.  She was hysterical and some thought she was crazy.

In Gainesville, FL, USA, April 2013: My uncle Byron died after a difficult battle with cancer only a few years after retiring.

In Bunj, Maban County, Upper Nile State, August, 2013: A friend and I found a quiet, dark place in the compound to talk privately under the stars.  We heard an explosion, out of the darkness in the direction of the nearest village.  My heart leapt.  Was it a bomb?  Is there fighting nearby?  Did a child just loose a leg or his life on a mine?  In the morning, the cooks said it was a man we’d employed for translation and data collection temporarily.  He had a dispute with another man.  One of them held the grenade and pulled the pin, killing them both.  What we heard wasn’t just a grenade, it was the sound of death.

This week, at least 4 of our national staff are grieving a death in their family, and this is not unusual.

Death in South Sudan is more frequent among the young than the elderly.  The life expectancy is 45 years.  

I don’t really mentally understand it and find it difficult to emotionally process.  I’m sure I’m supposed to feel more, but it’s not that it doesn’t affect me.  I think I am hiding the grief like lava somewhere deep and one day it might erupt.


2 thoughts on “Grief

Add yours

  1. Dear Lee,

    You will never forget these events. You will always grieve for being a part of and witnessing the unyielding pains of life and death. When you come home talk to anyone who will listen, who cares and seek a trained mental health professional. I believe you will come to a place where you can live with these memories and not be obsessed with them and where you will understand them in a broader way. I thank God for your faith and spirit because life and death and pain need that understanding. I’m so sorry for the trauma these events have caused you. I love you very much and find myself crying for you.

  2. Sometimes I have to turn the news off because I can’t process or deal with the horrors. The deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and now Syria that are depicted nightly are too much to process. And American media just brushes the poverty and death in Africa under the table. Living with it day and night 24/7 is likely something that if not directly experienced, will ever be truly understood. I admire your strength, especially because it is so bound with compassion. You are my hero.

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