CORONA and the seven stages of grief

| May 16, 2020

Resident columnist Dickson Igwe

Public reaction to the sudden and drastic change from the new Corona Virus Pandemic is worthy of assessment. The Corona Virus Pandemic has had a major impact on public psychology in every country. This is reaction that is equivalent to the human response to deep loss and grief: it is critical to recognize and understand that reality.

After Hurricane Irma’s tragic and devastating trajectory through these Virgin Islands, the effects on human life and behavior were apparent.

The most daunting observation was the deaths of elderly residents who after a life of hard work, stepped out after the hurricane, to see that their life’s work was destroyed in the few hours the hurricane pummeled the country. That trauma broke hearts, and killed many in the weeks and months after the event.

The Corona Virus Pandemic is both different and similar. It is not a pummeling and murderous storm. It is an invisible virus that has shut down the country, and the world. However, the effects on human behavior are similar to Irma: loss and grief.

People, as the Corona Virus spread throughout the world, and at the blink of an eye, lost not simply their livelihoods; they lost their freedom of movement from lockdown and curfew. Lockdown and curfew are the best ways to manage the infection rate, short of a vaccine or cure.

Consequently, the seven stages of grief are a factor in how humans are affected by this crisis.

Photo courtesy https://theconversation.com/

The pandemic is impacting people of all ages physically and psychologically, albeit in differing ways. Children are affected differently to adults, who understand how serious the pandemic is in seeking to kill and destroy. For many children, being off from school is an unexpected holiday.  

Now, shock is the first clear stage in the human response to Corona. The trauma that your life will never be the same again is similar to losing a loved one, and suddenly. It is indeed a shock.

There is the denial stage: observe the stupidity of anti-lockdown protestors. These are people clearly in denial that their behaviors are a danger to themselves and others.

There is the anger stage at the fact that there is sudden loss of freedom and self-sufficiency. That burst of temper and bout of snappiness can have its source in the sudden change the pandemic has brought on our lives.

Depression: this stage is a deep sadness at the sudden loss of livelihood and the deep change from loss of freedom and movement.

Guilt is a common emotion deriving from the belief that others may be suffering much more than we are. It is similar to the irrational guilt felt at the loss of a loved one.

Coping and reconstruction: after a period of time we all begin to adjust to the new reality, and adopt coping mechanisms to take us through a very difficult time.

From coping we arrive at the final stage in the process: acceptance. There is light at the end of the tunnel when we accept the tragedy in all of its dimensions and parameters. We are able to see ahead when acceptance is adopted and molded into our hearts and minds.

After the final acceptance stage in the seven stage process our survival in this pandemic is better guaranteed.  We believe we will not simply make it through this difficult time, but even thrive through it.

The light at the end of the tunnel is truly a better day ahead: not the headlamps of an oncoming bullet train. 

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Category: African Caribbean, Culture & Society

About the Author (Author Profile)

Dickson Igwe is an education official in the Virgin Islands. He is also a national sea safety instructor. He writes a national column across media and has authored a story book on the Caribbean: ‘The Adventures of a West Indian Villager’. Dickson is focused on economics articles, and he believes economics holds the answer to the full economic and social development of the Caribbean. He is of both West African and Caribbean heritage. Dickson is married with one son.

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