The COVID-19 epidemic has not only brought about life changes and economic recession but also brought painful experiences of illness and death. Some people have lost relatives and friends in the epidemic, and some children have lost their parents and primary caregivers, becoming “COVID orphans”. Assist them and pay attention to these important social issues. There is still a heavy long road to go for spiritual reconstruction after the epidemic.
New York, USA (Merxwire) – According to Charles Nelson, a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Harvard University, and his team’s calculations, since April 2020, more than 200,000 children in the United States have been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. Their parents or guardians have been Infected and died. They suddenly lost the support to take care of them, and thus became “COVID orphans”, which is just one of the potential problems that have to be paid attention to under the COVID-19.
The COVID-19 epidemic has affected the world for nearly two years. According to WHO statistics, the number of confirmed cases in the world has exceeded 285 million, and the number of death has reached as high as 5.42 million. The epidemic not only changed our habits and life but also had a great impact on the “life” of many people. Learning tools and working modes have changed to more home or online operations without contact with people, and the living economy of people and the global economy have experienced a considerable decline. Some people lose important family members, some people lose financial resources, and the ever-mutating virus continues to attack us. Recently, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has replaced the Delta variant as the “variant of concern” of WHO, which has caused more than 130 million diagnoses and claimed 500,000 lives, leaving many people sick and in pain, the spread of the COVID-19 virus seems to never stop right now.
COVID-19 outbreak leaves tens of thousands of families shattered
The COVID orphans not only occurred in the United States but also occurred in various countries and regions under the epidemic, especially in ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged families or regions, who lost their parents and guardians. The proportion is much higher than that of the white ethnic group. Because these groups usually receive less social support, lower job income, and less adequate medical insurance, in countries with higher medical costs, such as the United States, they may be ranked lower because of unaffordable treatment costs or medical treatment. They missed the time to receive treatment and evolved into severe disease or death.
According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every four people who die from the virus is the primary caregiver or guardian of a child. It is estimated that there have been at least 200,000 orphans from the epidemic. In the neighboring South American country Peru, more than 200,000 people have died due to the epidemic, which has resulted in tens of thousands of orphans from COVID-19. In some vulnerable families, half of the children in the family are left by the relatives and friends who died of the epidemic. The orphans left behind make it harder for families with poor financial conditions.
Unrecoverable trauma and precarious economic problems
Psychological Problems – Traumatic Syndrome
After a child loses a primary caregiver, the family needs are incapacitated, and the dramatic transformation will have a lifelong impact on the child. Failure to make proper arrangements can lead to various adverse changes in children, such as declining academic performance or unusual emotional reactions like lack of self-confidence, dropping out of school, self-harm, depression, and violence. If they experience the pain at a cognitive age, it will cause deeper trauma, and even choose some inappropriate behaviors such as self-paralysis or self-harm, while avoiding talking about the relative they had lost.
Financial Issues – Carer Stress
Some caregivers have to take care of the children alone after losing their spouses who died of the virus, while some individuals or families take up the responsibility of taking care of the children left by relatives and friends who have passed away, and even older brothers and sisters have to take care of the younger siblings. The psychological and economic pressure of these bearers will increase. Regarding the follow-up care of orphans in the epidemic, professor Nelson suggested that relatives should be the mainstay, followed by sending them to foster families and that these children must not be sent to group homes, residential care, and other institutions, especially for older children. Because of their age, these children have a stronger perception of trauma, and if they are not properly cared for, they are likely to have deviant behaviors.
What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe stress sequela that occurs after major trauma. Three main types of symptoms can be distinguished: hypervigilance, apathetic avoidance, and repeated trauma experience. People who have this condition usually experience or have witnessed natural or man-made disasters, serious bodily injuries, kidnappings, wars, and other frightening events, or they may be the result of learning about traumatic events from important relatives and friends. Follow-up trauma symptoms include extreme fear, helplessness, anxiety, pessimism, anger, insomnia, and inability to concentrate. Children often exhibit chaotic or agitated behavior.
How to detect your trauma and what possible reactions when it comes?
- The images of the traumatic experience kept popping up in your mind, like the feeling of constant nightmares.
- Fear, anxiety, anger, hypervigilance, and other emotions intersect, and you may also become apathetic and insensitive.
- The body responds in different ways, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, voice and body tremors, and even inability to concentrate during the day or sleep at night.
- There are many negative or catastrophic thoughts related to the traumatic experience, a feeling that a situation is dangerous or a disaster is imminent, and even self-harming behaviors.
All you can do in the face of pain is take care of yourself
- Be aware of whether you are in a traumatic state, such as trapped in negative emotions, repeated traumatic images, muscle tension, anxiety, excessive vigilance, etc.
- Try to soothe yourself, such as practicing deep breathing and patting your chest to calm down. Slowly pull yourself back to a rational state and tell yourself that those things are over.
- Find a safe environment for yourself where you are less afraid and unlikely to hurt yourself, and eliminate all the paralyzing ways of alcohol and illegal drugs.
- Find someone you can trust to talk to and release your emotions. Seek professional help to get sound advice and learn ways to overcome trauma.
- Read and learn about PTSD, understand the symptoms you may have, and then you will be able to cope with and adjust your emotions.
The pandemic has changed lifestyles, affected the overall economy, and caused many people to experience illness and death in unexpected and significant changes. And the emergence of virus variants one after another makes it impossible for us to determine how long it will take for everyone’s life to return to “normal”. After the vaccination coverage rate of countries around the world has increased and the virus has become milder, the world economy in 2022 may still grow conservatively at an average rate of 4% to 5% under the forecast of the three major global institutions. But what about the post-traumatic mind? How to get back to your normal life and what scars will be left? Can you grow up with positive beliefs after facing a huge pain? Can you survive these imposed economic pressures? Nobody knows the answer. The time for the spread of the virus may be in these two or three years, but the following huge pressure and pain will be another bigger test. Post-epidemic reconstruction is still a heavy long road.