Home Column - Tuesday Death and its long-term impacts, By Ngozi Bell

Death and its long-term impacts, By Ngozi Bell


The wheels of the world go round and round.

As at the time of this writing the US has had 256 mass shootings and more than 18,800 have died in 2022 from gun violence. Last weekend alone, there were 10 mass shootings, seven dead and 42 injured. This is a worst kind of epidemic because it is deliberate, can be cured but yet allowed to fester!

When people are killed so senselessly, you cannot help but ponder death. Death whether untimely or expected is a mystery in many ways. It reminds us with emphasis that Life is a Gift on a Timer

By the way, the US Supreme Court just overturned a 50-year ruling (Roe V. Wade) by the then Supreme Court that gave women the rights to have abortions and made abortion provision legal. What was particularly precarious about this case was that the votes were completely along party lines, indicating a partial Supreme Court. The other thing is that near-term historical Supreme Court justices typically avoided controversies and repeatedly making reasonable legally sound decisions. They tended to steer clear of any appearance of partisanship or meddling, instead known more for creating landmark rulings with national impact to facilitate a better union. With numerous attempts, this Supreme Court has repeatedly broken the cardinal rules of an impartial justice system and now finally reverted the highest court of the land to harshly partisan political court devoid of the respect and awe it once enjoyed.

In another area murderous racism persists in the US, the tool of choice this time was redlining; a tool of discriminatory practices used to put financial and other services out of the reach of residents of certain areas based on race or ethnicities. A mere boy, 18 years of old and white used this tool to target and murder many blacks and minority people on a Saturday while they shopped. 

Ironically, young people of the same age and younger mostly minorities and immigrants are doing amazing work in STEM and other fields way beyond the expectations of their ages on the verge of discoveries that will significantly accelerate the world for good – what a contrast!

These are indeed the times of our lives! In America no matter how you try to tell and retell the story, we are in the most murderous country on earth, nearly all preventable, all so unfortunate and so shameful. While the wheels of the world go round and round, in America death surrounds so much. It is from these lenses that I explore long-term coping after a death,  regardless of its origins or cause


What happens when a loved one dies, post the near-term grief, the disbelief, anger, anxiety and all the emotions that come with it.

Sometimes it helps that the grieving person expected that death or anticipated it, sometimes it does not. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding death, whether it was sudden, unanticipated, met with unease or unanswered questions, after years pass and the bereaved settles down, something weird invariably happens. 

A photograph, a remembrance, a memento, a revelation, a learning, a sighting and suddenly a new why comes flooding in. Why him or her? Why now? Why us? Again like before death and its ramifications loom big as the world around shrinks. What do you do with all that? How do you cope in that state? Here are four thoughts to help curb the emergence of the new grief beyond the grief.

Build mementos from the Truth, then place them on a pedestal

Death has a finality, a boldness that is hard to shake. It speaks in clear terms that an era is over, possibilities are gone and hope in that direction is lost in this realm of the living. To engage this, create for yourself mementos of triumph and truth. For example, what have you done or accomplished since that chapter closed. Find something you cherish or better still take the biggest thing you know that is true and place it on a pedestal. That biggest thing by the way, is that you have survived. Look at that often with intentionality, a clear conscience and the deepest awareness of the feat that survival is. The larger the hole your loss bore into your heart, the greater the weight of this realization that you have made it. You survived means that you have captured a future you once might not have imagined possible. You have made that once distant future a past and you will and can do it again and again. Speak about it, think about it, pray about it. Rejoice in it, be grateful for it and celebrate it.

Lift your signs of hope and use your despair as a foot stool

What is your sign of hope in that death, is it the fact that the lost one is present with the Lord? Is it that they lived a long valiant life? If it was untimely, are you just glad they were yours in some form, had an offspring, sibling, family member, or value you can take interest in. Find that thing, it is the sign of hope, and lift it high by honouring it, pursuing or supporting it as a cause. 

As for the despair whether intermittent or persistent, whether attached to a person or an image; place it underfoot by acknowledging the hurt and pain but recognising its relative impotency. Be firm that hurt as it may, you have made strides and plans in spite of it. While it might still hurt, you have not indulged its deception that all is lost. For example if the despair is associated with a person who caused the death via an accident or deliberate action – you neutralise the power of that person to re-inflict the harm by diminishing their influence and recognising that while they had the ability to destroy, they are unable to restore. Real power is found in our ability to create not destroy. Anything created lives and radiates life; in contrast what is destroyed dies. The one who brings things to life, is by far more powerful than the one who can only destroy.

Generate dividends of good

Everyone has a treasure trove of value when fully realised. When unrealised everyone has the capacity for a treasure trove of value. Everything with value pays dividends. You can generate dividends from the life your loved one lived or could have lived. If your loved one worked with or loved animals, depending on your tolerance or personal preference, you could help one animal get adopted or be matched to a need. You could educate yourself on any aspect of animal issues like endangered species and do what you can or just simply be in the know. You create dividends because you are now aware and therefore are now a conduit of a positive outcome in that thing once cherished by your loved one. It could be with anything, people, the environment, service etc.

Don’t cloud tomorrow

This is the biggie! Loss can cause life to become tentative, like one who is constantly waiting on the next tragedy, the next loss, always afraid and apprehensive, nearly hopeless with tomorrow so clouded it’s hard to see any better. This is not good, that much fog in a day you have not experienced, a future you know not yet, ensures that all the beauty, the mercy, the favours, triumphs and all the good become invisible and thereby inaccessible and lost. Tomorrow like the days past merge into one continuous cloudy day dreary and impossible to navigate for more than you currently have. It brings deep, thick depression, it tells you that there is no need to live and nothing to give. If unsupervised it can lead to more loss in and of you. You must uncloud each day, peel back the pain and recount your times of joy and pinpoint what brings them and go there if you can. If you cannot, seek help with truth, let someone hold your hand and walk you out of the fog and cloud where clarity dwells and your mind and heart can breathe again.

To all those who have been lost along the way, RIP, Godspeed, for to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord!

Like this present life, death too is on a timer and one day that too shall be over, in the meantime, live!

About Ngozi Bell

Take a listen to this podcast Say It Skillfully® OUR VOICES – Ngozi & Okezue Bell, Carpe Diem! Tuesday, April 5, 2022 (voiceamerica.com)

Inspiration, Hard Work, Innovation. These three foundational elements anchor Ngozi’s core belief that manifesting the extraordinary is always within reach. Inspired by her mother A.C.Obikwere, a scientist and author, she learned the privilege of living at the edge of important encounters and dedicating herself to robust and perpetual learning. Ngozi’s background is a combination of Physics, Engineering, Venture Capital/Private Equity, regulations, and business where she has managed over $1B in cumulative revenue. Ngozi is a speaker, storyteller, and writer on a diverse set of topics including AI, iDLT, ML, Signal Processing, iOT, women, entrepreneurship and more. She contributes regularly to VOA, has been a TEDx speaker and is published on tech and non-tech platforms. She is a champion of STEM, women, youth, art and the Africa we must engage. Ngozi is an adjunct professor of Physics and management with work

experience in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America. She is a founder of a number of a number of enterprises and host of the podcast Stem, Stocks and Stews (https://anchor.fm/stemstocksstews-podcast).

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