by Anshu Agarwal, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

It has been two long months that I have been hearing about the devastation of the COVID-19 variant spreading through India.  I have watched on the Indian News entire families get destroyed.  In the United States people are talking about reopening, but India is closing down again.  The pain has been growing in me, and it came to a head when my cousin was infected and died.

I remember in early April 2021, my cousin contracted COVID-19, but I did not think much of it.  He was 33 years old and all I could think, was, he is young, he is healthy, he is going to make it.  He was rushed to the hospital after a few days, and even then I did not think anything different, he is young, he is healthy, he is going to make it.  He survived Covid-19, but due to his complications he developed viral Pneumonia, but still I was positive, he is young, he is healthy, he is going to make it.  He then ended up on the ventilator, but still I thought, he is young, he is healthy, and he is going to make it.  Only the day he died did I get the news that he was not oxygenating his blood, and the doctors did not think he would make it through the night?  I was in shock, and all the hope I had used to dam my grief, had burst, and I could not stop myself from crying.  He was young, he was healthy, he was supposed to make it, but he died.

I am writing this article one week after his death, and for most of the week I am just trying to make sense of why he died.  I keep thinking about what I could have done to make a difference.  My family just sits and blames themselves, and I am doing the same.  I felt that COVID-19 has brought a lot of pain to others, but the loss of my cousin weighs very heavy in my heart.  I imagine that everyone else that has lost someone might be feeling the same.  Logically, I can say that things will get better, but for some reason I do not want to feel better, not right now.  I want to sit in my pain, my loss, the same loss we are all facing.  I feel that this is something that connects me to others, and our pain is one in the same, and I think it is more important we allow ourselves to be here together in our pain, then try to pretend we are okay.  When it is time to feel better, I will, but this loss will take time, and we should all give ourselves permission to feel sad.  I just hope people are able to recognize that this is not just my pain or their pain, it is our pain.