As Covid-19 wreaks havoc it's our duty to be responsible

As Covid-19 wreaks havoc it's our duty to be responsible.
As Covid-19 wreaks havoc it's our duty to be responsible.
Image: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

Two thousand nine hundred and fifty-two. That is the total number of Covid deaths in South Africa by last week Friday.

On Friday morning, I woke up to news that one of my closest friends lost her brother in a car crash, a message that crashed and flattened me the whole day.

This was a young man who grew up right in front of my eyes. The effect is that I have a friend who is broken, a family that is broken and a community that is hurting. But it is not just us, there is a whole world, our country included, with families that have been left broken by the presence of death. At the time that I write this, the worldwide coronavirus death rate sits at 530,000, a little over half a million.

And as I have said about death in a previous column, it is the truest form of truth. You might discuss it, but its presence and arrival will not be argued or negotiated with. We fear dying, but I think death is hardest on the ones left behind.

Our mourning and grief are never-ending, they merely mould into pockets of heaviness that drop out from time to time and demand to be carried. And after this pandemic has passed, those of us that are going to survive this are going to be left blanketed by a heavy, dark wave of grief. What is going to the collective emotional and mental health of the people who will survive this?

On some level, I envy the people who went through pandemics without social media. While it has been helpful in how we access information with ease, it has also brought the death of people into our living rooms, daily. There is a difference between watching news and hearing a news reporter says 'at least five people have died today' and someone saying on a tweet that "I had to bury both my mother and father this week".

There is a face, grief, palpable grief that we all then tune into. Every single day that we live through the pandemic is another day of panic; the panic somersaults into trauma and together with the trauma left behind by all these deaths, the people that survive this, will be some of the most anxious people on earth.

We weep, we break and we whisper and write "rest in peace" to the departed, in the hope that they see and can hear our wishes for them. We need to start including in that language a hope and prayer for peace for the ones that are left behind. In the post Covid world we will need this more than the people whose lives it will claim. We are living through a really devastating time.

And I really wish all other forms of death would at least wait and allow us some kind of break but that isn't going to happen.

I don't take death well, I don't know that anyone does.

I have spent so much time worrying about a lot of things during this damn pandemic, chief being my business and whether or not it will survive. In the last two days my worry has been, will I be here to see whether or not it will survive?

Will I see my daughter grow up?

This pandemic will claim more lives and the truth is you and I may be some of those deaths.

We need to be able to trust each other in these times, trust that we can all be as responsible as possible and remember that a big part of this is in our hands and in our collective responsibility.

Moreover, we need to be kinder with each other.

We need to be able to be each other's source of peace and remember that it is us who need peace more than the departed.

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