The new normal has given birth to a lot of positive ideas but there is another branch of the new normal that I will never get used to no matter how hard I try. This is because everyday a life is lost due to the Corona virus. Children have become orphans, parents have had to bury their children. Hope is supposed to keep us alive but there are some wounds that we will be forced to nurse for the rest of our lives.
How do you tell someone who has lost their loved one that everything is going to be okay when they are unable to travel back home for the burial. As Africans we believe that we are our brother’s keeper. We have accepted that we should be there for one another during good times trying times. When a member of our community graduates from college or gets married it is not only the family’s achievement but a community achievement. When someone passes away it is a loss for the whole community too and everyone comes together to support the bereaved family in different ways.
Sometimes when one is grieving the loss of their loved one you may fail to console them with words but a hug and a back rub may comfort them. “Nematambudziko”, my condolences, is now different phrase altogether due to the Covid -19 pandemic because sometimes you are unable to be with the bereaved family physically due to the Lockdown restrictions. Although the lockdown restrictions are precautionary, some part of you still believes that you have not done enough, you feel like you have wronged the bereaved.
How you wish you could either handshake or hug the bereaved family members and utter these words “nematambudziko”, my condolences rather than calling or sending a message. Africans are used to gathering at the home of the bereaved and helping out in all sorts of ways. The women usually prepare the food and wash the dishes. The men fetch water and firewood. Close family and friends of the bereaved sit in a particular room where everyone who attends the funeral will come to offer their condolences.
In some cases the burial date is only announced when all the close family members have confirmed their availability. The night vigil and women singing church hymns is a symbol of comforting the family of the deceased, and it had become the norm in some cultures that the body of the deceased is brought home for the last time before burial.
Everyone needs closure and sometimes it only dawns on a community that one of them has passed away during the body viewing process. When one has succumbed to a Corona virus related illness there is no body viewing service. How will someone get closure over the death of their loved ones when they are unable to see the body of their loved one for the last time?Will the close family member in a distant land ever accept the fact that they did not fail their loved one by not attending the funeral?
There are some traumas that we can get over, but we will ever get used to the new normal of funeral rites ?