Written by: Benito Vergotine
Prolific actor Patrick Molefe Shai passed away towards the end of last month. Forty eight hours later, former Miss USA, Chesslie Krsyt completed suicide leaving many shocked and surprised. Zozobini Tunzi shared a heartfelt condolence on Instagram recalling their warm and supportive relationship. These losses are even more pronounced owing to Covid and how grieving during Covid is not straight forward. The most common of human conditions is not particular to anyone, nor of any one grouping; regardless of who we are, all of us have been impacted. In fact the statistics suggest very few of us have been spared a loss during the pandemic. Do we have the necessary support and skill to grieve?
Professor Alida Herbst says our losses heightens our anxiety and adds to the psychological build up that is affecting our well being. If one then adds a pandemic to this, the picture changes. How can we ensure we are mentally healthy?
How can we grieve in a time when it is practically impossible to do so; natural interactions (have been) are regulated. We are struggling to grieve during Covid amidst the regulations and the tremendous uncertainty. This can have health implications.
In my recent chat with Professor Herbst , she said that by not grieving during Covid we risk a range of health conditions, namely, “prolonged grief disorder, complicated grief, disenfranchised grief and takosubo cardiomyopathy or Broken Heart Syndrome. ”
The pandemic has made it very difficult to find closure for a range of reasons. Generally the regulations have thwarted many of our attempts to provide comfort solace to our loved ones. There are ways that we can increase awareness around our losses. The professor says for example we can have a National Day of Remembrance; fly our national flags at half mast; facilitate discussions on loss and health, and have more stories of loss and grieve in our media. This is a tremendous chance. We owe it to ourselves to recognize how we feel…neglecting our feelings comes at a cost we may not be able too meet.
I like how a practical step can have tremendous benefit for you and I.
Covid has brought home our vulnerability but it has also shown us that our strength lies in our humanity. Grieving underscores our need for connection, comfort and community. Let’s be bold and build on that in our post Covid world.