The concept of Life & Death in 2020: Redefined

by Pooja Mukherjee
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2020 has been a rough year. And the next six months do not show a silver lining of hope. Starting from the Amazon forest fires, to the locust infestation in Eastern Africa, we have seen it all. We have witnessed the Australian Bush fires, countries showcasing a prelude to World War III, the COVID-19 global pandemic, volcanoes erupting in the Philippines, earthquakes in Turkey, and the most recent, the asteroid scare. 

Phew. Would be a crazy year to share with our kids if we get the chance to live, eh? With the COVID-19 cases increasing at a staggering amount every day, it seems unlikely that we would be able to return to our normal life. Will the pandemic end? Or will this be our new life?

Read more: Life after lockdown, what can we expect?

With new life comes new responsibilities. Humankind is slowly changing the way it thinks, adapting to the situations around us. This brings us to the idea of developmental psychology; how we modify our thoughts and emotions as we grow up and fight our battles. Developmental psychologists study a wide range of factors that influence our thought process, such as social, biological, emotional, and cognitive processes. The year 2020 has been challenging our beliefs and we are adapting to our situation in stages. 

The concept of death has always intrigued us. While some take it as an unchartered territory and deviate from its discussion or even utterance, others do take death as part of their lives and come to terms with the idea of death quite easily. We have an innate quality of fighting our deepest fears or anxious thoughts, and while we don’t run away from our situations, we simply do not accept its original form, to be honest.


Originally based on Ernest Becker’s book, “The Denial of Death”(1973), the concept of Terror Management Theory highlights the human tendency to derive worldviews, to suppress their anxiety and frustration of feeling powerless. TMT proposes that humans are motivated to promote ideas of self-esteem and worthiness to make themselves feel important and escape from the looming thought of death. 

The numbers of COVID-19 are rising every day, and we can’t help but think of the million people we have lost in this fight, and maybe millions we will be losing. While countries are trying to fight the pandemic with an unprecedented amount of hope and empathy, we humans are slowly losing our “human touch.” Physical social distancing has become the need of the hour, and hopefully will be a norm in the upcoming years, but emotional distancing has forced us to get cooped up in our own cages of despair. 

The coping mechanisms of each individual differ according to their culture, their situation, and the traumas they have faced in the past. Death, as an idea, has become more normal than before. With the increasing number of casualties due to COVID-19 every day, the concept of losing people doesn’t affect us that much. To be honest, our emotional consciousness is in hibernation mode, waiting to be woken up from its slumber by an incident that will shake the world. 

Read more: Our psychological responses towards the COVID-19 pandemic

It is ironic that the only way of fighting this pandemic is staying at home, staying away from our loved ones. We have to slowly come to terms with our situation, alone. In the 1960s, Elizabeth Kubler Ross came up with the five psychological stages of accepting death. They denote the phases we go through before we decide to accept our fate.   

It is obvious that we have crossed the first stage of denial way back in January 2020, when the COVID-19 virus turned global from a small market in Wuhan, China. We can remember the anger we felt when we blamed cultures and countries for a situation that was out of control. We have been bargaining with the aspects of the pandemic with our own theories of medicine, vaccinations, health advisory, virus’ longevity, research graphs, studies and even blaming the weather. But sadly, we are being grasped by depression as we witness our efforts to be futile, forcing us to accept our fate in the end. 

Maybe life would never be the same again, but so will be death. Losing someone won’t feel any different. Right now, we can realize how futile our existence is in this world which is ready for evolution. 

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