Connect with us


Silent loss only bereaved mums can understand



When a woman loses a baby during pregnancy or after birth, she is expected to grieve fast, quickly get pregnant again, or “get over it” and move on.

Besides, few healthcare providers that interact with mothers, during or in the wake of their loss, fully address mental health effects of pregnancy and infant loss. This can compound pain and increase stigma.

“There are a few built-in societal support networks for grieving mothers, few places

for mothers to turn for guidance and support as they move through the grieving process,” says Vivian Gaiko, founder of Empower Mama Foundation who doubles up as a perinatal loss counsellor. Empower Mama Foundation is an organisation breaking the silence on child loss and advocating for effective bereavement support to bereaved parents.

Gaiko notes the care bereaved parents and their families receive at hospital set up can have long-lasting effects. According to her, good and compassionate care can’t remove parents’ pain and grief, but it can help parents through the devastating time. In contrast, poor care can significantly add to their distress.

Violet Kerubo understands this too well. She lost her baby in 2017, a few minutes after birth. Some visitors made her feel as if grieving is a problem and didn’t want to see her crying. Others wanted her to treat it as a miscarriage and not death.

“They kept telling me umei sana wachia Mungu [You have cried too much, leave it to God]. Little did they know that was my way of speaking to God since I couldn’t pray,” she says.

She was affected physically and mentally and spent her whole maternity leave mourning. She stayed indoors for four months until one of her colleagues reached out to her, encouraging her to make her first step by resuming duty to keep her mind occupied.

According to Gaiko, the silence and stigma surrounding perinatal loss [miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirths, loss of a newborn or an infant whether due to illness, accident, or unknown causes] in most communities makes many bereaved parents grieve in isolation and without support.

“I resumed work and became extra busy, not because there was a lot of work to be done; but because I didn’t want to take any more questions from my children as to the whereabouts of their sister,” says Kerubo.

Though she is still mourning, she has accepted fate, and God has continued to give her and her family grace. Because of this, she is now ready to gift someone all clothes she had bought for her daughter.

“I have finatty opened the suitcase where I had packed the baby’s clothes. I’ve washed and ironed them and I’m now waiting to gift them, “adds Kerubo.

Baby strangled by cord

The case was different for Beatrice Kamuyu. She received a lot of love and compassion after losing her son two days before delivery “On March 13, 2017, I had what we call full-term stillbirth. I carried my pregnancy to term, but two days to delivery, he strangled himself with the umbilical cord. The only thing I remember about that fateful night is that he kicked for so long, but I assumed he was just playing. I had had an ultrasound, that showed it was a boy—so when he kicked a lot that day, I thought boys will always be boys,” says Kamuyu.

It took a while for her to accept her son was no more. In disbelief, she started rubbing her belly and talking to him and pleaded with him to wake up. However, despite all this, nothing changed and after an operation, her son was delivered

‘asleep’ weighing 5.5 kilogrammes.

As for the memories, she only holds on to the nine months she had him in the womb. She cherishes the photos she took during pregnancy.

“My water broke during my baby shower, so I never got to see gifts brought for me, apart from the few that I had bought. My family organised to have them removed before I was discharged and I am grateful for that because I believe it would have broken me further,” recalls Kamuyu.

The recovery journey was a painful one. Kamuyu sought the help of a counsellor. But still the loss was too much for her The whole experience also drove her on a dark path of suicide.

“I attempted suicide four times. After the failed attempts, I decided to share my pain and experience on social media. I thank God because there are people who took it upon themselves to support me,” says Kamuyu.

According to Peter Mwangi, a midwife, though pregnancy or infant loss is often painful and traumatic, it’s possible to find healthy ways to cope. Use of the right therapist can help parents find ways to mourn and honour their child.

“Therapy is not about forgetting the child or the loss. The goal is to work through the pain of infant loss, move forward, and find ways to seek support from loved ones,” says Mwangi.

According to him, pregnancy loss may occur for many reasons, and sometimes the cause remains unknown even after additional tests are completed. In many cases, miscarriages result from a problem with the chromosomes. The number of chromosomes the foetus has can be too many or too few and this can affect survival. Other causes include; abnormal embryo development, hormone problems in the mother, high blood pressure, or diabetes in the mother, problems in the uterus, incompetent cervix among others.

Child loss may also occur for many reasons, but the most common causes include; prematurity, low birth weight, birth asphyxia, and neonatal sepsis, birth injury, congenital malformation, neonatal pneumonia, postnatal aspiration, respiratory distress syndrome, among others.

For Ausebia Karimi Kariuki, it has been a double tragedy. She lost her son on August 19, 2019 when he was 19 days old to jaundice and this year, she had a miscarriage.

Unerasable picture

Seeing her son breathe his last in her own hands is a picture, she says, that is hard to erase in her mind.

The incident continues to affect her to date. It has been hard to accept that her son is no more.

“I haven’t healed yet and I think it will take time to heal because of the two incidents of losing an infant and a pregnancy. All through, I haven’t gotten any counselling and I believe I still don’t need it. I am not into any support group because I feel like I was born a cursed woman,” sobs Karimi.

She has kept everything she had bought for him and is not willing to give them away. Looking at the baby’s items makes her feel as if her son is still around.

Karimi reveals she experienced stigma from friends and family. Her mother still mentions it to her every time she makes a mistake and it hurts her more than when she saw her son die.

“I did not like how society treated me after the first loss. No one talked to me nor allowed me to hold their children. I felt like a failure and a curse,” she adds.

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, set aside to honor and remember babies who die during pregnancy or as newborns. The day also calls attention to the needs of grieving parents and creates awareness of pregnancy and infant loss.

According to Gaiko, there is a need to change societal perceptions about pregnancy and infant loss and raise awareness on matters of postpartum depression and other perinatal mental illnesses, the impact of child losses on families, and the need for effective bereavement support, and suicide prevention.

“This day is not only for grieving parents to remember their babies since this is their everyday reality. It is a day for everyone. It is a day to drive positive change for bereaved parents to receive care and support from hospitals, families, and workplaces and to consequently break down high walls of silence and stigma. The more we talk about it, the better placed we are to finding solutions. It’s an opportunity to find solutions to ending preventable perinatal deaths,” says Gaiko.

She adds that though people do not know what to say to a grieving parent, being there for them shows you acknowledges their pain.

“Sitting silently beside a friend who’s hurting may be the best gift you can give. You don’t have to say anything, just show up,” reveals Gaiko.

She warns people to be careful while comforting such a parent. Words like, ‘At least, you know you can conceive,’ ‘they died when young and you hadn’t invested as much’, ‘you have other children’ should not be used because they tend to belittle their loss.

“It’s not a little loss, it’s a little life that was lost. And every life once conceived matters,” says Gaiko in conclusion.


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Nairobi woman hopes to give birth, leave bedsitter 4 years after husband kicked her out



Gasherry Bendito has always been on the move. Her life revolves around thinking of the next step.

Nairobi woman hopes to give birth, leave bedsitter 4 years after husband kicked her out

Gasherry and her mother. Photo: Gasherry Bendito
Source: Facebook

As she plots about her next move, the beauty gets caught up in wishful thinking and dreaming of a more permanent way to live.

Four years ago, the struggling woman was kicked out of her marital home by the man she gave her heart and soul to.

When married, Gasherry could not bear children and that drove her partner insane. So, he saw it fit to get rid of her.

That meant she had to recalibrate and start from square A. This squeezed her between a rock and a hard place.

In just four years, the lady’s life proved to be a living hell as she struggled to find a decent job and a place to lay her head.

Nairobi woman hopes to give birth, leave bedsitter 4 years after husband kicked her out

The lady’s tiny room. Photo: Gasherry Bendito
Source: Facebook

“From losing my job, to being thrown out, to becoming a domestic worker, to being hosted by a colleague, and finally living in a hostel,” she narrated in a Facebook post sighted by

All along, Gasherry held onto unused baby clothes she had bought in the past as she waited for the fruit of the womb.

While crushing at her tiny bedsitter sufficiently decorated with a small bed, the hopeful woman still believed that one day she will get to hold her own bundle of joy.

Nairobi woman hopes to give birth, leave bedsitter 4 years after husband kicked her out

Gasherry could not have kids and that irked her estranged husband. Photo: Gasherry Bendito
Source: Facebook

The netizen told social media users she has been unable to get rid of the infant clothes because at the back of her mind, motherhood is her biggest goal in life.

“I have this bag full of baby clothes from 2014 when I was getting ready to have a baby. Almost seven years down the line and I am still holding on to it. I move with it everywhere I go,” she added.

Nairobi woman hopes to give birth, leave bedsitter 4 years after husband kicked her out

She has stored baby clothes for seven years. Photo: Gasherry Bendito
Source: Facebook

In other related news, a woman left many in tears after disclosing the pain she has been through for lack of children in her marriage.

The lady, identified as Margaret Wanjiru, opened up about her torturous 25 years journey on Monday, April 27.

Speaking to Kikuyu Diaspora TV, Wanjiru revealed life was not easy for her even in the first years of her marriage.

According to her, she married the love of her life in 1993 after two years of dating and after a few years in marriage without a child, her mother-in-law started insulting and mistreating her.

“I met the love of my life and after dating for two years, we moved in together in 1993 and this is when things started going south. At home, everyone was on our case since we did not have a child. Fights from my mother-in-law became intense. There is no pain like being married and you have money but no child,” she said.

by Tuko

Continue Reading


Appeal for support to establish a free cancer screening center in Kenya




Kenya Cancer Care Foundation is a community-based organisation focusing on offering free cervical and breast cancer screening to all women in Kenya, starting with a pilot program in Gatundu North Sub-County in Kiambu County.

We also offer free prostate cancer screening to all men from 45 years and above as well as provision of  free HPV vaccine to all the Girls from the age of 10-12 years.

We strive to have a cancer free nation.

To support this project, kindly send you donation to the phone number provided in in the flyer. You can also call us and we will be happy to answer any questions.

The KENYA CANCER CARE FOUNDATION® is a subsidiary project of the Maryhelp Mission Rehabilitation and Counselling center. The project was founded in the year 2016 to cater for free cancer screening and ensuring there is proper referrals.

Its main goal is to ensure there is an equitable distribution of FREE cervical, breast and prostate cancer services to all the Men/women of reproductive age insured or un-insured. It also ensures all the girls 10-12 years are vaccinated against HPV [Human papilloma virus] .

We believe in the modality and the methodology that no man/woman should die of prostate, breast and cervical cancer since it’s a disease that is treatable and manageable if early screening, vaccination and correct diagnosis techniques are instituted.

Practically if all the men/women are screened regularly for prostate, cervical and breast cancer then it’s evident that any form of cancer will be detected early and proper therapy instituted. Meanwhile we are currently working with several cancer institutes for the treatment and diagnostic procedures as part of our referrals. We are advocating for these tests to be FREE to all and mandatory to our population. This will ensure we achieve our mission by giving these expensive tests to those who cannot afford them. On achieving this,

We are in our initial phase towards the construction of our cancer diagnostic and treatment hospital along Thika-Mang’u road.

  It’s quite important to note that Kiambu County is only served by one cancer referral Centre that is Kenyatta University Hospital. There should be a MODEL structure put in place to have at least one cancer screening and diagnostic Centre in every Sub County.

The Centre will cater for early screening and early treatment according to the WHO protocol. One of this model pilot project is the one that we are proposing to have in Gatundu North then the same will be duplicated in Githunguri then we shall roll out this project to other counties in Kenya. It’s important to emphasize on the role of cancer screening as a pilot project.

 More details to follow…













Advocates and supports Cancer prevention through vaccination and early screening.

To make a positive difference in the lives of those affected by prostate, cervical and breast cancer.

Aids in providing screening, vaccination, treatment, after-care, educational materials, and patient/family assistance and information.




“To stop cancer before it starts”. Early, regular screening, early treatment with good prognosis.

Embarking on the best oncological care on our proposed state-of-the-art-cancer hospital and use the Centre as a facility for cancer training and research.




The project initial phase will start at Gatundu-North Sub County. The project will be conducted through the use of the EVA System. This is a digital colposcope for enhanced visualization of the cervix. The EVA software provides secure online data management, image filters and annotations, and a telegynecology platform. All the cervical images captured will be evaluated and decisions made if they are positive or negative for cancer. The data obtained will be stored in a smart card and all patient information/data will be stored there in a PIN code secured smart card.Also in case the Smart card is misplaced, then the finger prints will be used in case of otherwise. The patient will be followed using this smart card and an automatic tele-reminder of her next schedule will be automated. There shall be no treatment of any medical condition NOT unless the smart card is revealed and showed as a prove of cervical /breast cancer screening [or finger print method to access the patients data].Then all the female children in that family will be followed for HPV vaccination for the scheduled vaccination doses and the smart card indicating that shall be issued.

Continue Reading


Why I chose to have my breast cut off



Lucy Njeri vividly recalls the horrors she underwent on the day she received the test results showing she had breast cancer.

“It took me by surprise,” Lucy says. “Emotionally, I went down. I tried to clear my tears, since I was still in the office, but immediately I left the gate, I broke down and cried. I was all by myself. I was not ready for it.”

The result indicated she had ductal carcinoma [cancer that starts in cells that line the milk ducts), grade 1. The news hit her like a ton of bricks. And so she sat at the gate to her workplace, wrapped in colossal agony, struggling to come to terms with her new, sorry predicament. She was still nursing emotional bruises sustained by her mothers lengthy battle with throat cancer. Now here she was, physically sick from a similarly debilitating malady.

Just then, a complete stranger, touched by the sight of a lonesome lady crying her heart out, approached to help.

“This passer-by tapped my back and asked me, ‘is it okay’? I shook my head, and gave her my results. She read and told me it was go ing to be okay. She asked if she could call my mum. I told her no, she cannot call anyone in my family, since everyone was sick emotionally,” she explains.

Thus had begun Lucy’s long battle with breast cancer, a journey which, for many people, is beset with uncertainties and excruciating consequences on a person’s material and emotional well being. For Lucy at least, she had a shoulder to lean on right from the onset, and this assuaged pangs of grief that had belligerently gripped the mother of three on that fateful day.

Lucy’s newly found comforter cut short her journey, offered to buy her a meal and they walked to a nearby restaurant. But Lucy couldn’t eat. She cried her heart out the whole afternoon. She later gave the Samaritan the phone contact of one of her relatives, who came to pick her up.

“At night, I could not digest what I had read”, Lucy narrates, fighting back tears. “The next thing in my mind was committing suicide. I had seen anguish and pain my mum was going through. I was not ready for it.”

As luck would have it, Lucy wouldn’t hang herself that night. She didn’t find a place to hang herself in the house. But she cried the whole night.

On waking up the next morning, her uncle candidly advised her to brace for the new reality. It was time to summon her inner strength, and face her condition head-on.

“My uncle told me to face the lion, and fight it,” she adds. The words served to buoy her through the turmoil. But another calamity lay ahead – nurses were on strike, and her hospital couldn’t take her in. Her doctor advised her to seek surgery elsewhere. After weighing her options, Lucy settled on Kenyatta National Hospital, where she was booked for surgery.

“I had my breast removed,” she says.

Just before the mastectomy, a medic had counselled Lucy to be positive about the consequences. There are people without breasts out there, the medic told her. They are surviving, and they’re okay. So, there is nothing to worry about. Life has to go on.

With these words, Lucy mustered the courage to go through it. And she bubbles with joy, noting hers was a choice between living with one breast or dying to maintain the image. She chose life.

“I have seen people who resist treatment,
who say their breast(s) cannot be removed, and we lose them. I’d rather not have the breast, and be alive. I am lucky to have one. I have seen people who don’t have both, and they’re still there. Since then, I look at life from a different perspective”.

Thankfully, Lucy’s NHIF covered her treatment. This included six chemotherapies, radiotherapy, follow-up treatment and hormonal therapy.

Constant support This was a tough time for Lucy’s three children, who underwent manifold emotional excursions in these trying moments. They wondered at spike in visitors to their home. They’d been told their mother was sick, but couldn’t quite relate with the sickness. Lucy requested help from a friend who broke down the news to her children, while assuring them that mum would be okay. She recalls the news was particularly devastating to her daughter.

Now a fully recovered and ebullient cancer survivor, Lucy recounts her journey through the malaise with appreciation for galaxy of magnanimous supporters who held her hand through the predicament.

Right from the benevolent stranger who took her time to comfort Lucy in her low moments at the gate, to her circle of friends that helped her raise money for biopsy, her relatives, her husband and children, and neighbours, some of who would do her laundry, look after her children and even provided foodstuff and paid house rent in the bleak moments. There was even a matatu crew that would wait for her early in the morning on the days she went for treatment. And of tremendous importance to her journey, have been the healthcare providers who handled her condition.

“There are people you can’t even pay,” Lucy says. “I got a lot of help from neighbours and friends and even strangers.”

Her journey encapsulates the importance of a support network in the healing process of a breast cancer patient. As the world celebrates the Breast Cancer Awareness month, a call is made upon everyone to lend a helping hand and a supportive shoulder for those caught up in the throes of this exacting malady, a malady that deals long-lasting blows on the purses and hearts of hundreds of households it afflicts.


Continue Reading


Like us on Facebook, stay informed


2020 Calendar

October 2020


error: Content is protected !!