Sunday, 11 April, 2021

Season Of Loss

Nishtha Shrestha

In a few weeks, we will mark the anniversary of the date when the lockdown was first imposed in Nepal. From the initial months of being cooped up inside our homes to the partially free environment we enjoy at the moment, one common factor has been the subject of loss. Loss has taken many forms this past year and due attention to this has yet to be given.
Many lives were lost due to the pandemic. The stringent guidelines prevented individuals from participating in the traditional methods of mourning. Grief needs an outlet and the rituals in our society were designed to provide individuals a chance to grieve. Due to the pandemic, this opportunity was taken away from them. Mass burials to avoid infection were common.
Though it was a scientific method of controlling the pandemic, the mental impact of being unable to say goodbye to loved ones was forgotten. This issue was further worsened when it was the grieving person who was the reason behind the transmission of the virus. As a result, the anger and guilt in individuals was common which experts believe is the next issue that mental health professionals will need to address soon.
Along with the physical loss, the stories of intangible losses also have to be accounted for as we review the pandemic. The obvious ones in this group include unemployment, eviction from the place of temporary stay, malnutrition and the lack of study opportunities. Each type of loss mentioned had its own repercussions. After the lockdown was lifted, these issues were controlled, to a certain extent, but complete recovery will still take time.
Many lamented the loss of travel while others reminisced the gatherings as they spent the festivals alone last year. We had to let go of the initial plans for ourselves and adapt to the pandemic. In certain moments, one is likely to think of the possibilities if not for the entry of the pandemic. These losses deserve recognition as we have lost a part of our lives due to an external force and the helplessness and frustration accompanied with these thoughts need to be dealt with in our own ways.
While it is easy to spot the physical wounds, it is harder to identify and resolve these mental challenges which are equally painful. Grieving is a personal process because the perception of loss differs from person to person. Based on the coping abilities one has, loss influences each person differently.
Though there are rituals in place and a fair idea of what can be done to help a grieving person, it is still not a one-size-fits-all policy. A child who missed going to school with his grandfather, a final year student who did not get to attend a graduation ceremony, a young professional who lost a year of career development are some instances of loss.
The carefree attitude seen among the people at present could be considered as their way of reclaiming their lost time. A glance at the busy streets, overcrowded clubs, frequent protests, etc. could be an unconscious way to deal with the loss. With the season of renewal arriving soon, we need to ensure that we allow the season to change by continuing to follow the safety protocols. If not, the spring season may have the same flavour as in the past.