How the greatest collective mourning in the country’s history changes the Day of

The All Souls’ Day, celebrated this Tuesday (2), arrives for the Brazilian population permeated by appalling statistics this year. In twenty months, Brazil lost more than 600,000 lives to the coronavirus pandemic.

With less than 3% of the world population, it came to concentrate more than 13% of deaths worldwide. The total of deaths from natural causes in the national territory, last year, increased 22%, given that it includes the fatal victims of covid-19.

Until the last month of September, a total of 1.4 million deaths were registered in the country, a jump of almost 250,000 compared to the same period in 2020. March this year was the month in which more people died in all of history of the nation.

The risk of losing his life in the pandemic was up to 19 times higher than in the rest of the world. Amid so many numbers, it was difficult to avoid naturalization, but the mourning for more than half a million lives lost remains.

“These are things that shock and end up generating different postures, other rituals, in terms of attitudes towards death,” says historian Juliana Schmitt, who has mourning as a research topic. According to her, the pandemic caused sudden changes in the farewell processes.

The hospital environment, previously linked to a sense of security, today often represents a solitary death. “We never imagine that this person will be there without anyone who loves them around”, he points out.

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Juliana points out that the distancing from issues related to death, enhanced in the last 100 years, was exacerbated by covid-19.

In the words of the researcher, today’s society “outsourced” the theme, but the pandemic cut off contact with patients still alive, taking away the final moments together with loved ones.

“It’s an extreme situation. Until the 19th century, people died at home. We don’t have that anymore, but not having any contact with the person anymore? This nothing, this absence is very dramatic and has a very emotional, psychological weight big,” she says, who notices a movement to resume dialogue on the subject.

“Not alone”

Although the Day of the Dead is not celebrated by all religions, the emotional weight cited by the historian is present in the lives of followers and followers of all faiths. Therefore, even those who do not visit the tombs to honor the dead, are faced with the challenge of overcoming the losses.

Babalorixá Pai Lucas Minervino explains that, in Cadomblé, mourning does not refer to bitterness, but to the celebration of memory. Sons and daughters of saints wear white in their rituals and the 2nd of November is experienced at home and with the family. “They’re not dead, they’re our ancestors. We’re celebrating the lives of those who gave us life.”

According to him, it is necessary to reverse the naturalization of losses. “There’s not a person you’re going to point out that you don’t know someone who died from this virus,” he recalls. “You can’t get used to what’s bad. You have to bring life back to normal. Not together, not alone.”

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“The idea of ​​mourning is of unity, of bringing people together. Telling stories, remembering funny things that the person has lived. This lasts for years and years, lives and lives. This ancestry will be much happier.”

In Catholicism, where it is traditional, the date has existed since the 10th century and began with the intention of dedicating one day of the year to prayers for the purification of departed souls. In 2020, the faithful are also seeking to strengthen those who stay.

“Respect for the dead extends to solidarity with the mourners. We cannot forget their names, their stories, their deeds. Remembering the dead by visiting cemeteries or praying in homes or churches is to recognize that there are countless hearts hurt by the death of loved ones,” said Dom João Justino de Medeiros Silva, Archbishop of Montes Claros, in Minas Gerais.

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Among evangelicals, the Day of the Dead is not celebrated. Pastor and researcher Brian Kibooka, from the Baptist Church, who works in Feira de Santana (BA), explains that the understanding of Protestants about death does not foresee salvation after the end of life, but through acts of faith during existence.

According to him, the idea that the effects of death cannot be remedied makes room for a denial perspective to advance. “Maybe because of this, many evangelicals are able to resize death due to the lack of protective measures.”

The pastor warns: “This dance of death – made worse, because it is led by an individual who has genocidal traits – is underway and uses these peculiarities for it to be effective, for it to be efficient.”

In contrast to this path, in an interview with Brazil in fact in May of this year, Kibooka mentioned the importance of remembrance and the collective to overcome grief.

“The remedy Christians found for this was the sharing of memory and the conviction that justice had to be done.”

what stays

The perception that the accumulation of deaths by the pandemic has led people to talk more about the topic – brought up by the historian Juliana Schmitt – goes hand in hand with the movement to collectivize the overcoming of losses, seen as essential in religious communities and which can serve as a fuel for continuity.

As part of a project that draws attention to the responsibilities of public authorities in the face of deaths caused by covid, Amnesty International Brazil and more than twenty movements listened to the bereaved and bereaved.

Campaign videos Omission is not public policy show the impact of absences as a driver for change and as an emotional burden on the whole of society.

“We were witnesses and victims of many deaths. These many deaths were considered numbers and there was a dehumanization of those people who lost their lives. People who lost loved ones had to deal with the pain in a very brutal way”, says Alexandra Montgomery, director of programs for the organization*.

“We began to see that the state was failing. Part of the government began to spread fake news, discredit the press. All this generates additional pain in people. In addition to the uncertainty of not knowing if you are next, you continue to live without perspective.”

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Faced with this finding, Amnesty International began to look for institutional ways to put pressure on the authorities. “People’s stories cannot be left out,” Alexandra points out.

“It is essential for us to rescue the humanity of these people. To rescue and build the process of experiencing collective grief. If we lose the collective dimension, we ask for the motivation to fight. The motivation to understand that this was wrong and that it is a injustice,” he concludes.

*Listen to the entire conversation on the audio player below the title of this story.

Edition: Leandro Melito

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