When I saw this picture of this woman weeping for her sister who had died of Ebola being taken away by the Liberian Ebola burial officials, I was heartbroken. It made me realize that this disease is the most horrible one of our time. Let me explain why.
The horror about the Ebola disease is not just the fact that it can’t be cured or is extremely contagious. Its horror also lays in what happens after one dies of it. As an African, I know how much people value their deceased and the importance of burying a loved one. People are capable of selling all their assets to offer what they “call” a proper burial and funeral to their deceased. But Ebola has taken that away from thousands of families in Africa.
The fact that the governments of the nations affected by the virus have decided to cremate the bodies of those who died of it is a pretty understandable and reasonable safety measure to stop the spread of the virus and to avoid further contamination. Nonetheless, the reality remains painful. I can’t imagine having a loved one taken away like that to an unknown destination to systematically be turned to ashes. In our West African culture we do not “burn” bodies even though it is a very popular practice in other parts of the world. And Ebola has drastically changed overnight a culture that has been in place for generations.
I read in an article that some families do not even know that their loved one that has been receiving treatment at an Ebola care unit has passed and has been cremated. Imagine asking about your daughter, son, sister, brother, husband, wife and being told that: “Oh, he/she died and we’ve already burnt him/her”. It’s a feeling that I can’t allow my mind to explore for too long as the mere thought of it gives me cold sweats. But that’s what people have been going through.
Take a look at the woman in the picture. Her sister had just died and that is her goodbye. It’s very devastating. My sympathy goes to the families of all the people who have died of Ebola. The psychological trauma that comes with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is overlooked and I believe that the families of the victims will need some sort of psychological assistance.