Johannesburg — The death of former president Nelson Mandela left his grandson, Mandla Mandela, feeling like he had been pierced by a spear.
"I, like most in the family, told myself that when the eventuality of Madiba's passing arrives, I would not mourn but celebrate all that is good that he has left within me and for the world," he said in a statement on Monday.
"I was however mistaken because the pain of losing him unexpectedly got to me like one pierced by a sharp spear."
The Mvezo chief said he had felt alone the first few days after the former statesman's death despite being surrounded by family and friends.
"As the messages [of support] poured in my healing process began."
The Nobel laureate died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on December 5 at the age of 95. He was buried in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday.
Mandla Mandela said his family were thankful to South Africans and the world for their support.
"The last 10 days could have turned out to be the most difficult days in our lives had it not been for the support of all South Africans and people of the world," he said.
"As Madiba lay in state at the Union Building, I witnessed thousands of our people who came to bid Madiba farewell."
He said he shared the emotions of each and every person that viewed the body over the three days that Mandela lay in state.
"As some paused to reflect, I too reflected with them."
He said it was the people of the world who had helped him and his family refocus their attention on celebrating Madiba's life.
"As I joined a sea of people who sang and danced outside our home in Houghton, I felt strengthened to now celebrate a life lived to the fullest.
"I felt strengthened to celebrate a life of an extraordinary human being. I have no words to thank all the people who helped us through these 10 days."
Mandla Mandela also thanked government, the SA National Defence Force and the medical team that took care of his grandfather.
"Today, as the statue of Madiba was unveiled...I tried to express how grateful we in the family were for the role that our government played through the 10-day period but I still feel like saying more," he said.
"I know organising a funeral of this magnitude must have been extremely difficult but everything went smoothly."
A nine-metre high statue of a smiling Mandela was unveiled at the Union Buildings in Pretoria earlier on Monday by President Jacob Zuma.