Presented by: Valerie Maasdorp
In Zimbabwe’s fragile socioeconomic environment emotional processing and grieving is a luxury.
This community has endured decades of challenge through: liberation war; political polarization encompassing violence, trauma, death and loss; one of the highest prevalence’s of HIV (15%) and world record hyperinflation (500 billion %). Losses have become so overwhelming the populace appears impervious, unable to respond appropriately to illness death and loss. Daily focus on basic survival to acquire cash to purchase medications, food and staying alive is prioritized over emotional processing.
How then does one engage those dealing with life threatening illness, end of life transitions or grief?
Research indicates that emotional loss processing can be a prophylactic for future possible mental health issues – but when people are living in the here and now how can we help in a way that is both seen and felt as helpful.
Whilst Maslow posited that basic physiological needs, such as food and shelter, then safety and security, must first be attended to, Stroebe and Schut’s Dual Process Model states that healthy grieving means oscillating between preoccupation with grief itself, and engagement in a world altered by loss.
Given Zimbabwe’s situation, losses are compounded which makes bereavement and loss work especially important.
Offering adaptable services in any setting with possible traction, Island, Africa’s oldest palliative and bereavement service engages the community in referral systems from multiple sources, continuously assessing and reorienting its approach and creating services to align with the emotional needs and available time/resources/energy levels of its population