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.