Berthlyn Plummer, social worker/grief counsellor at the Peace Manage Initiative (PMI) said that staying calm and focusing on the positives are ways of maintaining some normalcy as she pointed out that COVID-19 has seen a prevalence of disenfranchised and anticipatory grief.
Mrs. Plummer made the observation while addressing the monthly Steering Committee of the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), where she was the guest speaker, recently.
“Persons are grieving the loss of some amount of normality. They are grieving the loss of some things that they are accustomed to,” as she pointed out that the human interactions such as a hug are now being seen as a threat due to the implementation of social distancing measures.
Explaining the disenfranchised grieving, Mrs. Plummer said this entailed the loss of the
privileges such as social interactions; not being able to go to church freely; grieving the death of a loved one due to the confinement in the number of persons allowed to attend a funeral and not being able to attend nine nights and setups.
“If you said to someone that you are grieving they would ask you who dead? But really that is
the sort of grief that is not really recognized that persons can grief but they are grieving the
normality that they have lost,” she explained.
Turning to the anticipatory grief, Mrs. Plummer said COVID-19 has brought on a situation of
uncertainty, as it relates to the future as persons, are unsure what will happen and are anticipating the worst.
“We don’t know what is going to happen next. We know the world is changing but we don’t
know what it will be but we are anticipating and are waiting for things to happen. We are waiting for the new changes,” she pointed out that persons were losing things they are accustomed to such as support and freedom.
Speaking from the perspective of Mothers Against Gun Violence, a parent support group started by PMI in October 2018, which seeks to provide mothers with coping strategies, she said many of the women have expressed concerns that the recent restrictions in movement had greatly affected their ‘hustling’ or inability to make a living.
“Some of these women are the breadwinners in their families and so they are suffering from
economic and food insecurity as they are not able to ‘hustle’ as they were accustomed to. So they have hungry children sometimes looking at them as they do not know where the next meal is coming from,” she shared.
She added that the quarantine, caused many persons to be confined in crammed spaces, which pose problems of conflicts in the family which has the potential to morph into some form of abuse.
Turning to the implementation of virtual learning because schools are closed, she said many
parents are forced to become teachers and this has become extremely difficult for them as they have not been trained to do so and this has built up frustration.
Mrs. Plummer however underscored that one of the things to do to assist these persons, was to listen and give them a space where they can communicate; administer breathing exercise and offer advice on what they can do about their challenges. She also recommended back yard gardening, which she said can be therapeutic and staying in touch with family and friends on the phone.
Violence Prevention Alliance| Institute for Sustainable Development|3 Gibraltar Camp Way|
UWI, Mona| Kingston 7|Tele/fax: 702-2079| www.vpajamaica.com; June 17, 2020