Tragedy in COVID-19 times | Celebrating Being Zimbabwean

BEREAVEMENT, which is a difficult experience under any situation, is taking place under very challenging circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic for foreigners in the UK.

Both those who experience loss because of COVID-19 or loss through other means may experience increased trauma and may be cut off from their usual support network.

Sadly, some families may not have had the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones before death, which can be upsetting. 

The observance of other practices and traditions, which normally occur after someone has died, may also be affected. 

When you are bereaved, you should stay in touch with other people; however due to COVID-19, this may need to be done online.

The Mutamiri family in Marondera have always considered themselves blessed as their son Elvis was in the UK. 

Truth being said, they had seen a great change in their lives through Elvis’ benevolence. 

He would send enough money for their daily needs.

They cherished their son for being able to provide for them. 

Elvis was also building a very big house, a sign he had all intentions of coming back home to settle.

One summer Monday, it was raining and the Mutamiri family were in the house. 

Mutamiri, aka Baba Elvis, had just arrived home from Harare. 

As the family sat down to enjoy their meal, the phone rang.

It was a call from Elvis. 

There was further excitement. 

It was Elvis’ phone number, but the voice was not his.

Mutamiri answered the call but dropped it instantly.

Mbuya Mutamiri picked up the phone and all hell broke loose as Mbuya Mutamiri started wailing.

Elvis had collapsed and died on the spot in the UK. 

Everyone in the house started wailing.

Death had visited the family as the Mutamiris had lost their breadwinner son.  

Although the Mutamiris had passports, no flights were allowed to the UK.

They knew that whatever they would settle for would never replace the real personal touch. 

Indeed, COVID-19 has brought in drastic changes to the way funerals used to be handled. 

Elvis had no other family in the UK. 

His death meant no one could repatriate his body to Zimbabwe. Even if there was one, repatriation of bodies has been suspended due to the pandemic. 

Organising a funeral during this pandemic in the UK is a nightmare; let alone a funeral of someone who is not a relative.

The average cost of a funeral pre-COVID-19 in the UK was about £3,837 with individuals borrowing more to pay for the funeral.

In this case, Elvis was dead and there was not even one person able to withdraw funds from his account. 

There had to be winding of his estate, then access would be given to his account. 

Elvis was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA), hence the Zimbabwean community in the SDA church in England took charge.

Elvis was buried by a people bound by their faith. 

His funeral was being live-streamed and his family watched online. 

The funeral director and the minister co-ordinated this and the immediate family was asked to share the live link.

All what was left was to take a few moments to think, write or draw some memories of the person. 

Later, they may be able to share that with others at a special memorial service, if it is to be held at all.

The Mutamiri family only hopes, when this pandemic is over, there will be a service to remember their loved one. 

For now, COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, but we must remain positive and also stay safe because, indeed, this scourge is real.

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