Now they want others who feel the sharp pain of loss seek counselling as way to heal, and are encouraging those who are bereaved to get help.

“Therapy is better than pills,” said Mrs Nthuseng Molefe Ngobese (41) of Luvisi in Nquthu, Kwa-Zulu Natal. She lost her husband in May 2011, and while she was grieving her mother arranged for her to have therapy sessions three times a week in Vryheid.

Waste of time

“I thought It was just a waste of time and money for whoever I would be talking to if they were not going to give me pills. At that time I was able to talk to my sisters, friends and even with my mother. I only realised later that talking to a professional is different from talking to family and friends,” Ngobese said.

I thought It was just a waste of time and money for whoever I would be talking to if they were not going to give me pills.

Her two neighbours – Mrs Ngoneni Mdletshe and Mrs Khanyisile Ndlovu – are also widows. The deaths of their husbands left a void in their lives too. For both, their husbands were breadwinners so suddenly the responsibility of providing food, education and clothing for their children fell upon their shoulders.

“Although my husband passed on in 1980, I still feel as if it happened yesterday. When he was still around I could talk to him about any situation or whatever I was thinking. I had avoided dealing with his death for far too long,” Mdletshe said.

Talk therapy

“The mind is a powerful thing. If there is something you suppress and don’t deal with, the mind always finds a way to bring it back up,” she said, explaining why the pain of her loss had haunted her over many years.

She had finally started getting better after talking to a therapist.

“Talking to the right person heals the mind and soul. The best thing about going to therapy is that you don’t get judged,” she said.

Ndlovu lost her husband at the start of 2010.

Changing times

“My husband was ill for a short time in late December. It was supposed to be a great time for my family, but on January 3, 2010 he suddenly was no more.  It was the most horrific way I have ever started a year ever in my life. The end of year holidays were normally a happy time for me and my family, but since then things have been tough and accepting that my husband is gone has been very difficult,” Ndlovu said.

“Therapy slowly opens your mind to the fact that you can still live, even though things have changed. I wish that any other person who needs to heal will see a therapist sooner rather than later. It’s not good to have an unhealthy mind,” said Ndlovu.