Covid-19: anxiety, fear, stigma, potential grief and hope amid the pandemic

By Abigail Tembo

As the country battles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the high number of recoveries has brought a new sense of hope amid the pain of losing loved ones.

More than fourteen days after his mother’s burial, Benson Makoni visits her grave to pay his last respects to the family’s anchor who at the age of 79 is among the 196 people who have succumbed to Covid-19 in Zimbabwe.

Benson could not attend his mother’s burial as he was in isolation fighting the coronavirus.

It has, however not all been doom and gloom as together with his wife, they are now among those who have recovered from the pandemic.

“I never had a chance to take care of mom when she was sick, couldn’t even attend the body viewing ceremony because I could not even wake up, I was so sick and it’s something which still pains me and wherever she is I hope she forgives me,” he says.

At the age of sixty-five, Benson is among the over 5 000 recoveries recorded in the country so far.

“The cough was so strong my chest was so painful couldn’t even breathe, the steaming helped a lot and I also had an oxygen tank, but now I am fine although I have lost some weight”

With recoveries in the country now at 80 percent, their daughter Constance Makoni who carried the burden of nursing family members reckons a positive mind is needed when dealing with COVID-19.

“We were focusing on recovering, it was me and my brother taking care of three sick people all I wanted was to see my parents back on their feet, even for gogo (grandmother) we tried our best, at that particular time we just wanted everyone to be fine and recover,” she says.

They might have won the fight against the coronavirus but outside their gate, another battle awaits the family which is stigma.

“Some are still afraid to even come close to me. People really do not understand this disease. It looks like people are now afraid of us. Ever since we fell sick neighbours shun us, we run a business here but no one wants to buy our eggs. I think this is mainly because of ignorance some people actually think its spiritual people are now shunning us but this has really made us stronger as a family,” Constance says.

The past two months have been difficult for the entire family: anxiety, stigma and the constant fear that another family member might succumb to the virus was unbearable.

But after all is said and done, they still find a reason to smile as they are grateful for being alive and to be counted among the recoveries.