The Senior Pastor of Trinity House, Ituah Ighodalo, speaks on the life and times of his late wife, Ibidunni
Since the death of your wife, you have displayed a great level of strength. What has been your motivation?
It has always been God and a refusal to think about myself, pain and sorrow. I decided to think first, about God and secondly, about my wife. I asked myself what would my wife want and thirdly, I decided to think about other people. How can I send the right kind of message in the midst of this to help other people? I refused to think about myself and what I was going through. I thought more about what God would want me to do. As soon as I focused more on those things and less on myself, it wasn’t a very difficult thing to do.
How did you break the news of the death of your wife to your children?
My children are young. My daughter is nine years old and my son is two and a half years old. So, it wasn’t so difficult. When I got home that evening, I hugged and kissed them. Then, I whispered to my daughter, “Your mum has gone to be with Jesus Christ.” She asked what I meant and I explained that her mum had passed on. She understood what passing on meant, so the question was, “I won’t see her again?” I said, “Not physically but in eternity.” Then, she cried. My son was too young to understand what I was saying but he knew that his mum had gone somewhere. He eventually saw his mother in a coffin. My daughter asked me more questions and I did my best to console her. But then, children are strengthened by God. From time to time, even till today, she asks me one question or the other and I answer her.
Many people described your wife as an angel in human flesh. How do you feel now that she’s no more?
It’s not that she’s no more. She may not be here physically, but angels are spiritual beings. She was an angel that lived with us for 39 years and 11 months and now, she has disappeared. But, angels don’t stop working. They keep moving in the spirit, making things happen, interceding on our behalf and reminding God what needs to be done. I know that since my wife passed on, I’ve received a lot of support, help and inspiration. Firstly, it rained throughout the week of her death, and on one of the days, the thunder was so strong that it was as though even the heavens were weeping and rejoicing at the same time. On the day of her burial, as soon as we got to the vault, it started to rain again and it kept on raining until we laid her to rest. So, I know that there was a heavenly conversation concerning my wife and her entrance into heaven. I know that she may be gone physically, but we see her presence everywhere ― the people she inspired, the things she did, and the provisions that have come for her foundation. People, including governors, call me every day, asking how they can donate to the foundation. Some of them didn’t know my wife but they want to donate.
It appears Ibidunni became more popular after her death. Why is that the case?
That is the power of death. You sometimes don’t know what you have till it’s gone. Death is so strong, especially in our society and culture that it attracts people to the object of death. All of a sudden, they become bigger in death but also, that is proof of somebody that lived a life of purpose. Sometimes, you need to sacrifice, in terms of death, for things to come alive. Martin Luther King became popular not while he was alive but after death. John F. Kennedy was the same. That’s why I tell people that Nigeria is worth dying for and unless somebody dies for this country, we may continue to struggle. People should be ready to play their part and some of us, including myself, should be ready to die for Nigeria so that this country can truly rise up again. In my wife’s death, she has come alive. Ibidunni’s death has strengthened her dream and people have been attracted to her for paying such a great sacrifice for the benefit of many.
What activities have helped your healing process?
I’m still healing and getting used to the situation. It’s not easy; it’s like cutting off half of one’s body. We used to think together and think through one another. I won’t say that I have deliberately engaged in any activity to help me through. I just live the way I need to and react to situations the way I want to. However, I didn’t rush into anything; I took my time. I didn’t do anything I didn’t feel like doing. I did only things that I felt were proper to do. I have not rushed myself into anything because of my mental state. For example, for the first six weeks, I didn’t watch television because I wasn’t interested. If I don’t feel like going out, I wouldn’t. Thank God for video calls and meetings, it has kept me in contact with a lot of people. I have told myself to gently re-enter society. Of course, my routine has changed because I need to spend more time with my children, thinking and managing the activities that my wife used to oversee. I need to spend time with her staff and do some domestic activities. Those things were not my business before. My life has changed and I hope the other people I’m responsible to (my professional practice and church) will understand and accept that they have to deal with me from a slightly different perspective going forward.
Spiritual people often claim to see things that others don’t see. Have you had any vision or dream of your late wife since her passing?
I’ve had a few dreams and revelations but those are not ripe for public consumption.
Some people think you’re really hurting and trying to be stoic on the surface?
It’s not a pleasant experience not being with someone that one loves, so there’s the pain that comes with that. However, it’s not a crushing pain that makes me unable to think. I have accepted what has happened. I’m not annoyed, bitter or angry. I miss my wife very much, but I accept that it is what God allowed. Therefore, I must be able to do what is right because it’s not about me; it’s about the person that has passed on, God and the people I’m responsible for. If I’m so pained that I can’t make money to feed my children or receive people who come to commiserate with me, then I have not done well. If I’m that pained, I wouldn’t be able to encourage other people such as my wife’s family and my siblings. I tell them that we should lift ourselves out of this situation and face the future together. I have to be there for my children. It’s not about me; it’s about making sure that everyone is happy and we can move forward.