Constant sight of death, despair is taking its toll

Ambulances constantly zipping by and mass-scale cremations are causing an emotional reaction amongst the nearby residents

Due to the unprecedented number of covid cremations being carried out near villages, the nearby residents are now complaining of a feeling of unease and fear. Many say that they are scared to see so many covid bodies passing in ambulances via their village and then being cremated.

With city crematoria unable to manage covid cremations, the Revenue Department had set up makeshift crematoria at Giddenahalli and Mavallipura. Boards have been put up all along Magadi Road and Tavarekere-Giddenahalli road showing the direction to the crematorium. “If we come on to the road, we don’t see anything except ambulances carrying dead bodies. In 10 minutes or so, we can see more than 15-20 ambulances passing by. This gives us a feeling that so many people are dying and I am feeling as if I am having a nervous breakdown even though I have nothing to do with the deceased person,” said Venkateshappa, a resident of Tavarekere.

Dr Vijaykumar Harbishettar (Consultant Psychiatrist at Padmashree Diagnostics), said, “For the people living near the crematoria, in the last few days, the witnessing of the unprecedented scenes of rallying of ambulances carrying dead bodies of covid patients, one after another, marching towards the last rites is no less than disaster experience. Also, on top of this, visualising the burning of dead bodies, people in distress, smoke, smell would generate reactions in any empathetic person. These scenes remind one of death which always has a fear component attached to it. Some may become emotionless, apathetic and even get thoughts of their experience being closer to death.”

Bengaluru under pyre

Due to light showers on Friday evening, the workers were seen struggling to keep the fire going and were throwing extra wooden logs to the pyres so that it doesn’t go off while they were being drenched in rain with the PPE kits on.

There are a number of villages and farm lands around Giddenahalli where villagers are practicing agriculture. Many of them are now complaining of the dropping of unburnt pieces by birds. “It is really scary to see these pieces all around and we are scared for the fact that they are Covid bodies,” said Anita Gowda, a resident of Gattisiddanahalli.

Meanwhile, residents of Mavallipura have been protesting against the Covid cremations. A few of them are said to have temporarily moved out of the area. “For some, this traumatic experience may be so stressful, that they can continue to carry on having the anxiety, fear, irritability, depression or even no emotions as discussed earlier, for long, leading to depression and anxiety, with sleeplessness,” added Dr Harbishettar.



Feeling uneasy? Here are some tips

* Talk to someone. You are not alone and usually, reactions generated are similar.
* Share your thoughts and fears after getting into small self-help groups
* Meditation and mindfulness will help to think of the present

* Volunteer to help those in distress, ensuring your safety rather than just being a witness
* Remember that nothing is permanent and work towards acceptance
* Seek refuge by practicing spirituality or in your religious teachings
* Practice care and compassion towards others and always offer helping hand as you may need it tomorrow

(Tips by Dr Vijaykumar Harbishettar)

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