By Dominique Heffes-Doon, Research and Social Media Officer
“Grief is the acute pain that accompanies loss. Because it is a reflection of what we love, it can feel all-encompassing. Grief is not limited to the loss of people….” – Psychology Today
The Covid-19 pandemic has placed the world in a state of grief. As the above quote from Psychology Today shows, grief can be more than the loss of a deceased individual.
It can be experienced by the loss of a person, a former “pre-Covid” world and even one’s country and identity. In the case of the Venezuelan migrant community, the latter statement is a sobering reality.
I’d like to take you for a moment on an experiential journey. Bring to mind the classic David Rudder song, Trini to De Bone and contemplate on your feelings of national pride.
It is truly a beautiful thing to “love up” one’s country. It is a privilege and arguably even a blessing bestowed by God, that one must not take for granted. The situation for the Venezuelan community is that we no longer have deep sense of belonging. It is now gone and for many, we are in a state of grief.
The population of Trinidad and Tobago is arguably also in a state of grief.
The Catholic Commission for Social Justice hosts a weekly conversation, entitled ‘The Migrant Speaker’ from one of our Facebook pages: CCSJ Trinidad and Tobago.
Our aim with this programme is to build “bridges” between the Trinbagonian and Venezuelan communities. We do this by highlighting the commonality of our shared experiences in this era.
In our very first episode of ‘The Migrant Speaker’, we spoke to this exact issue, our shared grief. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it, as we all struggle to live in a “new normal” and sadly, some of us, have had loved ones taken away all too soon. Loss seems to be rampant in one way or another.
Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, that “we are all interconnected”. We believe ourselves to be “separate” from the person that sits next to us in the office, in church or even those that you may assist through kind acts of charity.
The truth is that “the ever wider we” is experiencing this state of loss, at both an individual and a collective level. Our challenge as Catholics, is to “frame” or shift our own perceptions about our individual pain and grief to one that appreciates the experience of our “neighbour”.
We are all members of the wider “We”. As such, no-one is left “untouched” by loss and grief in some form. Yet our shared experiences hold many positive and powerful opportunities.
It deepens our understanding of ourselves and humanity as a collective. I also argue that this is the birthplace of compassion and true goodness, a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
To once again quote Pope Francis, we are not going to get through our current crisis by “hunkering down in individualism”; we have to come together as when we alleviate the pain of another, we lessen our own.
Members of the Venezuelan migrant community are experiencing deep grief and loss, which is usually accompanied with emotional “fall outs” and intense psychological stress.
To once again quote ‘The Migrant Speaker’, “if you cannot afford to help in this time, please we ask you, not to take away with negative mindsets and predetermined beliefs.”
Join us as we work towards building a harmonious society that integrates all.
SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE FOR THE WEEK
I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine… It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”
– Pope Francis
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee