Published on International Journal of Social, Politics & Humanities
Publication Date: May 3, 2019
SULOLA Adedotun Olawale & KOLAWOLE Oladotun Paul
ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja, Kwara State, Nigeria
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State (Department of Religious Studies)
Journal Full Text PDF: The Roles of Counsellors in Sudden Death (A Christian Perspective).
Marriage is core stage of man’s living; it’s a relationship almost everyone craves for. The sweetness of marriage stems from the fact that two people become one. Then, what happens when there is a sudden demise of a spouse? This question forms the bedrock of this research discourse bringing up a lucid analysis of what marriage actually entails. This work also gives a clear understanding on the devastating state of marriage when death comes in. The quests for a solution brings up counselling with the engagement of this subject matter (death in marriage) to ascertain how Christian counsellors (Christian counsellors inclusive) can effectively be of help.
Keywords: Marriage, Spouse, Counsellor, Christian counsellor, Death, Bereaved.
Categorically speaking, the first institution established by God was marriage and it brings a man and a woman together as one; husband and wife. It is on seldom cases that one will find or see adult male and female unmarried. In other words, God instituted marriage; and did it for the purpose of procreation and replenishing the earth, to overcome loneliness. Marriage is a serious stage of man’s life; issues come up when one of the partners die. The place of counselling in marriage cannot be neglected because of cases like this.
Bereavement can have a devastating impact on the immune systems of seniors, and may explain why many older spouses soon die after the loss of their loved ones. Counselling the bereaved is a ministry on its own; it takes grace and patience. Thus, this paper addresses what counselling entails, especially pertaining to the issue of losing a spouse (death); revealing the importance and significance of a Christian Counsellor.
2. THE CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
From the creation story in Genesis, it is clear that God instituted marriage without the consent of any mortal being. The marriage bond is a covenant between three parties: the man, the woman and God. God’s ideal for marriage remains one man and one woman for life in a one-flesh relationship. Suffice to note that God himself established the marriage institution in the beginning. Even more astonishing is that the Bible indicates that God personally joins together every husband and wife’’
God was and still very much interested in the holy union of a man and a woman becoming one flesh by marital covenantal term. However, it should be noted that vices that surface in marriage is a result of the man’s fall in the Garden of Eden. Man fell from God’s unquantifiable grace and hullabaloo set in. The concept of marriage is not strange in anyway strange to the New Testament. In fact Jesus’ first miracle was done at a wedding programme in Cana of Galilee where he attended a wedding programme. The Jewish perception of marriage is neither a joke, nor a child’s play; the age of someone regarded as a man starts from 30. Thus, a man who is qualified for marriage is termed and seen as someone who is matured for the stage.
Jesus in the gospel of Matthew 19:6 says, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The divine ideal for marriage is clearly a lifelong bond that unites husband and wife in a “one flesh” relationship (Matthew 19:5). The marriage bond is a covenant between three parties: the man, the woman and God. God’s ideal for marriage remains one man and one woman for life in a one-flesh relationship. Suffice to note that God himself established the marriage institution in the beginning.
Several individuals revealed their views and opinions concerning the subject matter. Johnson and Jones opined that “Marriage can be the most rewarding relationship; however it also brings with it many problems and issues that need to be handled.” From the above definition, the first connotation of Johnson and Jones here presents the fact concerning marriage. The fruitfulness of marriages when it works is explicit; it is an investment that yields result and profits. The second connotation has to do with the obvious reality.
Among the stages of man’s life, the marital stage is a vital one because of its duration; spending the whole of one’s life with an “another person.” Danfulani Kore opines that, “marriage is a serious and lifelong venture in God’s sight.” Marriage can be the most rewarding relationship; however it also brings with it many problems and issues that need to be handled. The spouses should support each other in both bad and good times. It is always good to share the problems with your life partner to have a greater bonding and understanding.
Ellywood defined marriage from an ethical perspective. According to him, “marriage is a physical, legal and moral union between a man and a woman living in complete community of life for the establishment of the family.” In the same vein, Sheling explains marriage as a union between a man and a woman with the intention of permanent togetherness.
The concept of marriage is not strange to the African people; in fact, it is an integral part of the values and culture of the African land from ages. Research has shown that a sacred elaborate ceremony is done in the African system to authenticate the habitation and the covenant took by a man and a woman. The significance of marriage in the African setting informs the action of several parents to the extent that they at one time call upon their offspring to ask about their relationship; fiancé or fiancée as the case may be. Some even go to the length of recommending one person or the other for their children.
Marriage in the African world is seen as a sacred ceremony that is vital in man’s life. People are called upon to celebrate this great event; marked with several clergies, guests, singers, relatives among others. Every reasonable parent in Africa wants a happy home for their child; it’s a thing of joy and pride that their children are happily married. The understanding of marriage in this section shows the duration of marriage as ‘forever;’ “till death do us path,”. In the real sense, the appearance of death at one stage (sometimes early, sometimes later) in the marriage becomes a serious debacle to the spouse, children and family as a whole left behind, the situation is inherently unpalatable viewing the hurdles the spouse encounters, this occurrence forms the discourse in the next section of the work.
3. DEATH IN MARRIAGE: A TRAUMA
Over the years, the reality of death has not denied; it is a natural part of life, and so it follows that grief will be a part of the life of every person, to different extents. Thus, no argument and negotiation, death is real. The death of a spouse is one of the unavoidable causes of being single. This is a serious and critical issue for the family. The death of a spouse for female in Africa sometime affects the structure of the family in the sense that some of those women have their husbands as backbone (finance wise especially) and when he is gone; this becomes a serious challenge. In other words, death in marriage brings about several things like; hardship, depression etc.
Depression is defined as “an abnormal state of inactivity and unpleasant emotion, as in manic-depressive insanity” In other words, depression is a whole illness involving your body, mood, thoughts, behaviour, as well as your relationships. It affects the way people eat and sleep, the way people feel about themselves, and the way people think about things. Because of its wide spread frequency among many people, groups, depression is known as the” common cold of mental illnesses”
Depression knows no boundaries- it affects people of any age, race, gender, or religious affiliation. The causes of depression can be physical, emotional and spiritual. However, we often dwell so much on the physical and emotion more than spiritual. Meanwhile, coping with the aftermath of loss is often extremely lonely and confusing; it is not unusual to feel depressed. The sudden departure (death) of a spouse causes depression for the victim either male or female. As a result, a man that is depressed may develop loss of interest in his work. If the depression continues or persists, it becomes more of relational issues whereby relationships with others tend to devolve or become strained because individuals in this category begin to pull away and noticeably withdraw from friends and family due to melancholia state of mind.
In the same vein, the researcher noted some things that make sudden death in marriage traumatic:
a. Shock: this may include denial and anger in the mind of the victim; overwhelmed with the occurrence and finding it very difficult to accept and relate with the reality.
b. Numbness: This might include a detached feeling about death.
c. Psychological struggle: this could include hearing the voice of the departed, catching glimpses of them or preparing to call them. Because of the memories that cannot easily be forgotten.
In view of this, some victims even die days, months or some years after the death of their spouse; this in turn explains the severity concerning the sudden death of a spouse in marriage. It is clear that death in marriage can be traumatic; thus, the next section reveals what counselling actually entails, since it is the thermostat engaging this trauma (sudden death in marriage).
4. WHAT COUNSELLING ENTAILS
Counselling is the provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, especially by a professional. Counselling can be for one person or a group (typically couples and families) and may be delivered through a number of methods, from face-face dialogue, group work, telephone, email and written materials. Counselling is largely a voluntary activity whereby clients must wish to change and collaborate willingly with the Counsellor.
Counselling is also said to be a variety of procedures systematically undertake by a Counsellor to promote specific change in the behaviour of a client, which is relevant to goal established between the clients and Counsellor. The traditional African society with its more communal and mutual support systems in gradually disappearing and in some urban areas of African it has almost disappeared. People no longer build their home together as a community, instead, many home have high walled enclosure. Life is becoming more and more a life of every man for himself or himself and the devil takes the hindmost.
Collins defines counselling as “a process that attempts to provide encouragement and guidance for those facing losses, decisions or disappointment.” A quick look at this definition may cause one to erroneously conclude that counselling is only meant for individuals needing help facing challenges in their life. However, Collins use of the term decisions may not necessarily refer to problems. There may be positive decisions that may drive one for counselling such as moving from one city to take up a better paying job in another.
In the height of the race of modern life, the devil indeed taking a very large share of not only those who take the hindmost, but also those who think they are front runner. Counselling in the traditional African society was accomplished informally through families, neighbors, friends and peers and the strong; sense of becoming to a community supported the life of each person. In some cases, professional counselling was accomplished through the mediums, seers, medicine men and women and other specialization servants of people. Counselling is benefiting or important because it allows for two way communication.