It was a normal Saturday morning in 2014 when Nongcebo Nzimande's husband left for work. The 25-year-old did not know that a few days later, she would be a widow.
While at work, her husband, Xolani, complained of a backache -- something they all thought had not been too serious. Later that day, however, he was admitted to ICU and a few days later, he died of pneumonia.
The couple had been married for two years and their only son had just celebrated his first birthday.
"It is one of the most heart-breaking and devastating experiences in life. All that you have dreamed of, worked towards and sacrificed for has ended just like that," she tells HuffPost SA.
Nzimande, now 28, says her husband's death, which "crept up" on her, was "one of the lowest lows" of her life. "You laugh with a person, hold hands and you don't know it's for the last time."
So when she heard the news of Dumi Masilela's passing, leaving behind his wife Simphiwe Ngema of three months, Nzimande felt "deep pain" for her.
And while she will never understand Ngema's pain, Nzimande has a few words to encourage Ngema, one young widow to another:
The next few weeks, months will probably be the toughest, but trust me it will get better. Nothing in this world is forever, including the pain of loss. You may have some sleepless nights, I had many of those, just take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. Allow yourself to mourn. Cry, don't hold back your tears. Being angry with God is normal, but He is still there for you, waiting to comfort you. You are going to feel lonely, it's like a part of you is stripped from you, but be easy on yourself. For a while, you might not feel comfortable around couples or couple events and that's okay. Give yourself time but don't completely socially isolate. Evaluate your company. You need champions next to you and if someone is not doing that, don't feel guilty in putting some distance. Oh yes, men will probably still approach you. It can seem insensitive, but they don't probably see it the way you do, if they care at all, so don't pay them much attention, just guard your heart. I could say so much more but in closing, the word widow does not define you. Widowhood may be part of you but it's not the entirety of who you are - it's only a part of your story. We are praying for you and love you, but God loves you more. Allow Him to hold your hand through it all, I know He will take care of you too, just as He did to me and a number of other young widows.
Love, NongceboSuggest a correction