Nelly Rurangwa is a 22-year-old Clinical Psychology Student at University of Rwanda and a board member at Rwanda We Want organization who unburdens herself to her friend after seeing Covid-19 tear apart her normalcy, but she is also concerned about her friend and she tries to lend a helping hand to this friend and also raise awareness to issues relating to our biggest losses and how to cope with the grief of these losses during the coronavirus period.
How have you been holding up with the pandemic? I have thought to write to you so many times but didn’t have the words yet to express what I was experiencing on the inside. Now, I feel ready to share with you how I am living the whole COVID-19 experience.
When the lockdown was ensued, I thought it was for a short period of a time and that going back to school and social activities would resume after a short time. At first I assumed I was only going to deal with concerns related to protecting myself against COVID-19 through washing my hands and respecting physical distance. Little did I know that this was the beginning of several subsequent changes and the rise of new problems. ‘It is not very serious’, ‘I am having a nightmare when I wake up everything will have gone back to normal’ are the words I kept telling myself because the reality was not easy to process. I later discovered it was denial. Within the same period, we were announced that school was resuming in September, these news were not simple to process and I realized we were actually losing our normalcy.
Anger, sadness and fear are some of the emotions I felt during this period. The social isolation was one of the biggest loss, and doing my best to not be overwhelmed by it was a daily fight. It was clear that I was grieving my old life, not that I had completely lost it but it is just that my life had changed in a sudden way. Something I was not expecting in a year like 2020 and didn’t have control on. I knew I couldn’t stop all the changes from happening but I had the choice of I was going to live through them. I had two options either to be a victim and be passive in this whole situation or find meaning in what was happening and learn from it. One thing was sure my old patterns of coping on their own wouldn’t be enough to help me navigate through this novel situation. I needed novel coping strategies because what I was living was different from I have experienced before.
As you might have guessed at this point, I went for the second option, the one of creating meaning of what was happening. I had to figure out how I was going to live through the changes. From this time, I created a daily schedule and made it a goal to learn one new thing per day. I discovered new hobbies, I didn’t know sports was an activity I would like. I got the opportunity to reconnect digitally with people I had not talked to in ages. I did activities full of lessons that I would not have before. Finding meaning in this current situation doesn’t mean I have everything figured out or that I don’t miss my old my life. I have low days when I don’t feel like fighting or when the memories of the life before COVID-19 leaves me with a feeling of sadness. However, all in all my life became better much when I accepted the changes resulting from COVID-19 and changed my attitude towards the situation. This has been my life since COVID-19. What are you still doing well despite this crisis? What were your losses? How are you trying to create meaning out of this unexpected situation? What is this season teaching you about yourself and others?
In this COVID-19 reality we are all experiencing due to different loss linked to changes in our daily routines and missing out on planned celebration, always remember you are not alone and whatever your challenges are, you can handle them.
I hope you stay healthy! Talk to you soon. Remember the sun still shines. Take care of your physical and mental health.
If you wish to participate, do not hesitate to send your letter to our communication team at firstname.lastname@example.org