Becoming a widow is not an easy thing to handle. From bitter court battles to suspicion and blame for their spouses’ deaths, they are left vulnerable.
Oftentimes, pressure is exerted on them to move on and get married again. But many never remarry. Here is why.
Rachel Njeri, widowed in 2013
“I was married to John for five years. We got married on December 13, 2008 at a church wedding ceremony.
The memory of that day will always remain fresh in my mind. I was overjoyed as I said ‘I do’. I had no doubt that I had found my knight in shining amour.
John was handsome, good-looking and kind-hearted. He also had an intense love for God and people, which was important to me. He had a way of making those around him feel special.
On August 30, 2010, two years after our wedding, we were blessed with a beautiful girl known as Jade. Our marriage was blissful. We had most of it figured out.
We had vowed to stick together forever but on December 12, 2013, death did us apart. It was the toughest period in my life.
You see, John had enjoyed good health throughout his life. This changed in July 2013 after he returned from Ghana, where he had gone on a church mission.
He started complaining about stomach upsets. Three months later, in October, he was admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
After a series of medical examinations, he was diagnosed with advanced liver cirrhosis — a condition that causes scar tissue or fibrosis to replace healthy liver cells.
He was discharged three days later and asked to continue taking medicines from home.
Between October and end of November, John spent his days to and from hospital. On December 1, he was readmitted to KNH.
His condition deteriorated. On December 12, he breathed his last. He passed away a day before we marked our fifth anniversary.
We laid him to rest at his parents’ home on December 21, 2013. The passing away of my husband left me with a wound that still hurts up until now. He had become a part of me.
Every day, every minute, he was in my life: from my daily routines, home and work. Also, my daughter Jade was very close to him.
She resembled him, and when he passed away she didn’t know how to cope with the loss.
Today, there is so much that reminds me about him. Some that give me strength and some that make me wish he was still with us.
My daughter still talks about him. I am glad that she sees him as her hero and guardian angel.
The death of my husband awakened me to the sad realities that I did not know about relations. My view of marriage changed.
Before he passed away, I thought that marriage was meant for building relationships. But this is not the case.
My relationship with my in-laws broke loose after he died. I remember visiting my mother-in-law a few months after John’s death.
We went to work at her farm with a few other women. Then out of nowhere, she turned to me and said, ‘If somebody wants to get married, she can go ahead’! This hit me like a thunderbolt.
Why would she say this? As a widow herself, didn’t she understand my pain?
In the following months, I faced false accusations, humiliations in front of people, and outright rejection by John’s family.
I chose to forgive and try to move on with life for my daughter’s sake.
Today, what still holds me intact is the strong love that my husband gave me while he was still alive.
Although I have not got married again, I really would not mind. I kept my vow of till death do us part faithfully, and if it is God’s wish that I get married again, another knight in shining amour will come along.”
Pauline Muthusi, widowed in 2011
"I am in my late thirties. I do not have very fond memories of my marriage with Eric.
But I still remember what a joyful event my wedding day was. Our wedding was the culmination of years of mutual feelings and fate.
Eric was my first boyfriend. I had fallen for him way back in our high school days.
After completing Form Four, we had charted different paths. But fate conspired to bring us together in 2006 in Mombasa.
At the time, I worked as a business lady while Eric had become a pastor. Our feelings for each other came alive when we saw each other.
I was impressed that apart from being a God-fearing man, he had walked his talk and decided to pursue a career in theology.
After a few brief coffee meets, we started dating, and a few months down the line we were joined together as man and wife on April 21, 2007 at a colourful wedding ceremony that was held at AIC Mbaraki Church in Mombasa.
This would be the best day of our lives. This is because our next four years together were filled with pain and heartache from our struggle to have a child.
In two different trials, we ended up losing the baby. I would carry the pregnancy to term only to lose the baby during or shortly after delivery.
Walking home empty-handed was very painful. But we did not lose hope, and kept trying. We moved from Mombasa and settled in Nairobi.
Shortly after relocating to Nairobi in 2010, I conceived again. The positive results from my pregnancy test filled me with a mixture of joy and fear.
Would this baby come out alive? Would he survive? We desperately prayed that this would be our miracle baby.
In September 2010, I was admitted to KNH, where the doctors recommended that I undergo a caesarean section.
I can still remember my husband assuring me that all would go well as he held my hand at the hospital.
He prayed with me and left to fetch some nursing necessities that I would need. He promised that he would be back in a few hours.
But this was not to be. He suffered a gruesome car accident on his way home. Well-wishers rushed him to St Francis Hospital in Kasarani.
His condition worsened and the doctors transferred him to KNH, where I was already undergoing a caesarean section.
Unknown to me, as I celebrated the birth of our bouncing baby boy, my husband was in a critical condition and undergoing emergency surgery in the same building.
Finding out about the accident took all the joy of my newborn baby that I had. I choked and cried in pain as I left him behind at the hospital
John was a servant of God, why was all this happening to him, and to us? Was there something wrong that we had done?
These questions ran in my mind. By God’s grace, he pulled through. But over the next few months, my husband was in and out of hospitals.
He would shift from KNH to Kijabe Hospital for corrective surgeries and treatment.
On April 23, 2011, about seven months after the accident, my husband collapsed in our house and passed on.
He died from complications that resulted from that accident. On May 2, 2011, we laid him to rest at his parent’s home in Mbeere South, Embu County.
It was not easy to deal with the death of my husband. I had a lot of regrets, questions and wishes.
The biggest among them was that he had not got the chance to see our baby grow, to raise him and nurture him, even though we had waited for years to have him.
Nonetheless, I was fortunate that among those who came to mourn with me were widows.
They contributed greatly to my healing by constantly reassuring me that with time everything would be all right.
Since losing my husband, I have not really considered getting married again. I don’t think I am ready anyway.
But I have faced lots of direct and indirect pressure to get hitched again. I have been told that I am too young and should get a man.
There have also been slurs towards my single status. For example, there are acquaintances who’ve bluntly told me to get a man who’ll support me simply because I sought assistance from them.
Others have spoken of my advancing age and claimed that I need to get my son a sibling, and bring an atmosphere of love in my house.
This hurts so much. It was not my wish for my husband to die so early in our marriage.
Nonetheless, I thank God that so far, he has enabled me to weather these storms."
Purity Robert, 31, widowed in 2013
"I lost my husband Robert six years ago. He died from leukaemia. I miss him so much.
We were happy together. We were the proverbial Bony and Clyde. We had been married in a traditional ceremony on December 11, 2008.
Robert was very romantic and chivalrous. He had these cute ways of making me smile even when we had arguments.
He couldn't stomach seeing me sad. He could also sing. I remember how he loved singing Joe Thomas’ song ‘I want to know!’ to me.
But all this joy and happiness was cut shot in 2011 when Robert came down with blood cancer. He was diagnosed at KNH.
It had all started with fever and chills, frequent nosebleeds, and excessive bleeding when bruised. Then we noticed that he was losing too much weight unintentionally.
The search for treatment took a huge toll on us emotionally and financially. Every day, he got weaker. Our finances dried up.
The treatment was costly. We sold all our assets and moved to rental houses in order to meet his rising treatment bill.
But it was all in vain. On March 6, 2013, my husband breathed his last while undergoing treatment at KNH.
It is now six years since Robert passed away. I don’t think I have ever healed. There are times when I find myself crying.
If only he could still be alive and by my side to comfort me and reassure me. I do not think that I can get married again.
I cannot imagine myself getting the strength and courage to open up to another man the way I did with Robert.
I loved him so much that there is no other man who can replace him in my heart. Nonetheless, I will not wholly close the door of love.
Perhaps down the road, God will give me the courage to love again, and a man who can accept me the way I am will come along."