Home Featured Mums Widowhood in Kenya: “My Husband Died when I was Six Months Pregnant...

Widowhood in Kenya: “My Husband Died when I was Six Months Pregnant – How Life Has Been as a Young African Widow”


 The motherhood journey is one with its ups and downs, and we all have different experiences. Today, I share with you the story of Hellen, a young mom of two. Hellen sent me her story. By the way, if you have a life experience that you believe would inspire, encourage or educate a fellow woman or mom, you can send it to me at maryanne@mummytales.com  

This is Hellen’s story:

“My name is Hellen Birech, a mother of two. My daughter Natasha is three-years-old while my son Nigel is aged just one year. I am an Agricultural Economics graduate.

When I was six months pregnant with my second born, I unexpectedly lost my husband in Somalia; he was a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldier who died in the line of duty.

For as long as I live, there are moments that I will never forget. I’ll never forget the moment I learned about my husband’s sudden passing. I’ll never forget the moment I viewed his lifeless body. I’ll also never forget the moment when his casket was being lowered into the grave.

Hellen’s son and daughter.

I became a widow at the age of just 28 years. At that time, my daughter Natasha was just a year and a half old. I was also a fresh graduate from University and was jobless. My husband’s sudden death left me in a daze. Everything was just a blur. There I was, reeling from the shock of it all, pregnant, and with a young child. It was the hardest moment of my life.

I developed low blood pressure which saw me in an out of hospital countless times. I fainted thrice while pregnant. I remember the worst was one day in when, as I was standing outside our home, I collapsed, hitting my tummy down so badly. I was rushed to the hospital and immediately admitted.

The doctors did their best to stabilize me. However, three days later during their routine monitoring checks, they couldn’t trace my baby’s fetal heartbeat. I was informed that I had to go in for an emergency caesarean section. My son had to be delivered six weeks earlier than his expected due date. We stayed in hospital for one week before we were discharged.

Endless Tears

I had a rough time breastfeeding my son. I was nursing my CS wound and I was still quite stressed by the loss of my husband -who I had all along been excited about building my future with and raising our dear children together. I worried about my children, wondering how they would grow up without their father. I could hardly sleep.

Perhaps it is this stress that may have caused my breast milk supply to drop significantly. My son was just not getting satisfied. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t produce enough for him.

Every time my son cried, I would cry together with him.

Hellen’s son, enjoying the outdoors in a recent photo.

Strained Relations with In-Laws

It didn’t help much that after the death of my hubby, my relationship with my in-laws became strained. Our relationship came to an end just three days after my husband’s burial. I returned home to my parents.

Back at my parents’ home, my life became preoccupied with my children. I made a resolution to be the best mother and father to them; determined to never let them down. I would always kneel in my room and pray for them.

Thankfully, with the support of my mother, siblings, friends and the unit where my husband worked, my kids didn’t lack.

But those first days, weeks and months weren’t easy. There are days when I would cry so much. Sometimes my daughter would see me during those down moments, and I noticed that if would affect her so much. I had to learn to be much stronger for her and her brother.

Hellen with her daughter.

How Motherhood has Changed Me

Being a mom has completely changed my outlook on life. I no longer sweat the small stuff. Motherhood has humbled me, with the realization that the world no longer revolves around just myself. I am now someone’s hero; I mean the world to my children.

I always look forward to going home whenever I’m out running errands. The moments when I walk in through the door and see my children’s faces light up as they throw their hands in the air screaming “mum” and hugging me and kissing me as they do so are priceless.

Raising my two babies who are closely spaced is an amazing experience. To see them grow healthy each day is a blessing and a favor from God, which I don’t take for granted. With each passing day, I grow very fond of them. They are still young and need me.

Hellen’s adorable babies.

I have a nanny, but because I’m home full-time, save for when I’m out running errands, I try and spend as much time with them. I love going to the supermarket to shop with them because it’s also a kind of like an outing for them. And it makes me feel a happy mama. Despite some few challenges here and there, I continue to do my best to be a great mom and dad to my kids.


Despite being widowed at a young age, I have a great life with my kids. I don’t plan to remarry because I fear introducing my kids to a step-father…

I have made peace with myself that I’m going to take care of my kids alone.

Sadly, my son never got to meet his father. I gave my son all his father’s names, which helps me know that soldier is here. Last May, as he celebrated his first birthday, I declared him my hero.

Hellen’s son, in an attire she specially designed for him in honor of his father’s legacy.

Why did I do so? Because at some point during the pregnancy with the low blood pressure, the sickness and all the stress, I knew that I was going to lose him. But he showed me that he is a real soldier who never quits. My son is a hero.

As Dolly Parton sang ‘My coat of many colors my mama made for me’, I did the same to my son Kiberur. I took his father’s military combat and made him a small one that fits him. I wanted him to wear his uniform in honor of his legacy. And I’m sure he’s up there in heaven smiling at us.

Encouragement for Widows

Today, I want to assure Natasha and Nigel that they are in safe hands. Dad gave me the sword to protect them, he gave me the light to lead them. And I promise to do it best for them not to feel the empty void.

My encouragement to fellow widows is this: God knows why it had to happen that way. stand strong for your babies and God always be your number one support system.” END

Thank you, Hellen, for sharing your inspiring story. Blessings to you and your family.

And that’s Hellen’s story. I hope it has encouraged you. If you, just like Hellen, have a life experience that you’d like to share with other moms, you can email it to me at maryanne@mummytales.com . Thanks for reading.

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER



Previous articleGiving Birth in Kenya: Could Chickenpox in Pregnancy Have Led to the Loss of my Baby?
Next article“Abuse is the Type of Pattern that only Gets Worse with Time…”
Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

ten − 1 =