Boats ferrying residents from neighborhoods; helicopters hovering across the skyline distributing packets of food and water bottles; familiar landmarks submerged in water; a loss of close to 400 lives and 1.5 million people displaced — it seemed like a disaster sequence from a science fiction film. Except that, the violence of the storm was very real. Chennai and parts of coastal Tamil Nadu faced the brunt of nature’s fury, in what has been described as the heaviest rainfall experienced in a century.
The storm brought life to a standstill and almost everyone experienced some kind of loss. Thousands were left homeless and vulnerable, at the mercy of the weather and the charity of good Samaritans. For those of us, away from the city, watching the images on television, the situation created both empathy and a sense of helplessness.
A teacher in Chennai shared her concern about her students. She said that many of them were experiencing grief and unable to come to terms with the devastation they had seen. Most of the students expressed a sense of anger, frustration compounded by the fear of facing loss and control. The classroom is a microcosm of the grief experienced at various levels outside. As with most life experiences, there are no tailor-made solutions. However, there are ways we can begin to face the fear of loss and grief and in the process use what is best for our own personalities and temperaments.
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