Grief During COVID-19: Complex And Maintaining Distance

As the COVID-19 cases started to rise, it became part of the daily brief, to scroll through the different mediums, lap up the developments, shrug at the helplessness and waddle through the day.

Grief was always personal, it was never tangible, it was complicated, but it offered a solace. Not anymore, even this grief was out in the open, it was stripped naked, right in the public eye, and we were forced to either wallow out in the open or once again shrug our shoulders and waddle on. The numbers kept climbing, images kept getting distressing, life and death, which were anyways black and white seemed to be even-more contrasting.

Away from their homes, away from the touch of the near and dear ones, people closed their eyes forever, they were not grieving, they were clamoring to survive and they lost the fight. No one was outside the glass windows, people were asked to maintain their distance and even when the final few breaths were taken, they were all alone – perhaps the only few moments of peace. Life and death in a matter of breaths.

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In this fickle life, where there is a false pretense of grinning, where everything seems to be a façade, there are but only a few people you blink, and tears roll down. The words you blurt out for them is never in meaningful, structured formats, they are ugly, they are crude, they are rough, but they are pure. They screech out from the dark, messy inhibitions and when these people pass away, you want to watch them, hold them, touch them and cry. It is no longer happening, it might never happen, will it ever be the same?

The soul is lost, it looks for compassion, but what is happening around us has thrown everything into a cobweb of crippling emotions and there is no vent anywhere to be seen. We are selfish, we look to scurry home and be safe, away from the constant struggle to be alive and despite the inherent nature, human beings offer a shoulder to even strangers to cry on.

It might never be the same, there might never be a shoulder from accomplices, leave aside any stranger. And well, we will scurry back home once again, not because we want to, but because we have to.

So, even as migrant workers keep walking on, even as trains lose their direction, even as hunger kills the people who have been feeding us, we skim through numbers, call up our family, our friends, keep distance and pray. We pray that grief, death, and the complexities do not venture near us, for we do not know how to react, what was normal is now strictly forbidden, and what was forbidden, we never got used to them!

And so we mourn, we switch off the lights, we wish the world stands back again and there are shoulders to cry on, there are hands to touch, there are tears to wipe. Grief is complex, it is constant, it does not need to be isolated. It may forever be!