There are 7 stages to grief, they say.
These stages don’t always go in order. A person might remain stuck in one stage for a longer time, proceed slowly to the next, jump back to the earlier stage and so on. Letting out emotions, talking to people, sharing feelings, all help in going through the transition.
But Corona has changed everything we are familiar with to something else, and sadly it has done the same to processing grief as well. Right from when we are informed that someone is Covid positive, to the day that we are informed that doctors have done everything they possibly could – grief hangs in the air. When a Covid positive person is admitted in a hospital, and you don’t have connections in there, you remain a sitting duck, helpless and scared, wondering what is going to happen next. Nothing really is in your hands, and you go through all the stages of grief transitioning through them crazily, every hour, every single day.
It’s like sitting on the deadliest roller coaster ride of your life, along with your close one, a ride which keeps going up and down and down and up, left and right, pausing slowly to let you both take a breather…you both relax…laugh a little…see the nice view, talk about how crazy a ride this is and think about what you will do once the ride stops….when again up the coaster raises slowly and steadily, giving you an impression that yeah it’s a ride, but the worst is over and it isn’t scary afterall….while it suddenly changes it’s mind and decides to drop all the way down so fast, so deep, that you forget to scream…everything rushes to your mind, the unsaid things, dreams, memories….when all of a sudden the ride stops mid air, your safety-belt pops out and it ejects you out to an unfamiliar world, one in which your roller coaster partner who you began the journey with, is no longer there with you.
Death is always more cruel on the survivors.
When someone passes away due to Covid, their family members/friends have no way of seeing their loved one’s face one last time. The emotional outlet they are familiar with has been snatched away from them. Unable to do their rites or even bid their adieus properly, the bereaved members end up staying in the denial stage for a long time, lamenting aloud to the serene, smiling picture of their loved one in front. Unless experienced, this grief is beyond words.
With Covid protocols in place, the situation of bereaved families is similar for non-Covid deaths too. Typically, mourning period is for 13 days to a month. During this time, family members and friends who know the departed person, gather together, pay their respects, cry their heart out, pour their feelings, offer comfort to the family members, get solace in offering help, and try to be with them, doing every little they can, to show how much the dear soul who passed away meant to them.
Since funerals are a place where different people tend to gather, a lot of them, young and old, hesitate to attend any funeral. Be it however tight their relationship might have been, the Covid scare in the air locks them up and makes them mourn for the deceased in their own home. Filled with grief, guilt and helplessness, they let out their feelings by calling the bereaved family members, hoping and praying they don’t mistake them for not coming to the funeral. Sometimes the family members understand.
Sadly, no one gets the closure they want in these times.
The family members who have lost a person, do not have people who they can share their sorrow with in person, and they end up crying to them over the phone. But how many bits and pieces of stories can be shared across one phone call?
The people who do not come to the funeral, understandably, due to Covid scare, unable to process the death of their loved one, shuttle between guilt , denial and depression stage, going back and forth while expressing their helplessness on the phone to any of the family members of the deceased, who care to listen.
And there are some who shut their mind, not wanting to think that a person they know a day before has died, lest this thought pushes them into depression during Covid times, so they try to live searching for a positive side to everything. No idea if there is a name to this stage.
Everything has changed due to Covid. Processing grief during Covid times is one such thing. Every one has their own way of grieving these times too. Different but still the same where feelings are concerned.
Only Kavingnar Kannadasan’s song comes to mind –
“Veedu varai uravu
Veedhi varai manaivi
Kaadu varai pillai
Kadaisi varai yaro”