DURING the strict community quarantine, there were several important once-in-a-lifetime events in our family that we were not able to celebrate with friends and relatives.

First was my father’s 80th birthday. It was supposed to be a joyful gathering of close relatives, a mini-reunion of my father’s brothers and cousins who are already way past their senior years. We have prepared for it since last year and everything was all set when the pandemic hits the country. And that missed reunion of brothers won’t happen anymore. My uncle Fred, my father’s brother, died on Saturday, July 18. That birthday celebration could have been their last joyous and memorable moment together.

Next was our 30th wedding anniversary in June. We planned an out of town celebration with the family and a simple gathering of close friends afterward. We ended up celebrating it at home, with take-out food, instead of a feast.

Then there’s my son’s Grade-12 graduation. It is a milestone that is definitely worth celebrating. High School years are the best years in a student’s life. The pandemic abruptly ended the school year with unfinished lessons and without a once-in-a-lifetime high school prom. Batch 2020 was denied proper closure to high school. No goodbyes to classmates, teachers and Alma Mater. Students and their parents were deprived of their few seconds of fame up the stage to reap the harvest of their hard work.

I believe we are not alone. Thousands, if not millions, probably experienced the same thing. A planned wedding that was postponed is perhaps the most devastating of all. Sabi nga ng isang kanta, “some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.” I am supposed to be a wedding sponsor this August, but I was informed that it has to be set aside for now. Imagine the months of preparations that all went to waste.

Missed happy events are painful. But the loss of a loved one with nobody by your side is probably more hurtful. Some friends' relatives and passed away during the quarantine, but wakes were not allowed. We could not be physically present to condole with the family. It is even more painful for families of Covid-19 fatalities who cannot be with their loved ones in their deathbed, and could not even see them at the last moment before cremation.

This pandemic has disrupted probably thousands of once-in-a-lifetime events, not just in the Philippines but in other countries as well. Our attention, and that of our government leaders, is focused on avoiding infection and reviving the economy. Meanwhile, thousands of people, with bottled up pain and disappointments, are suffering in silence. Nobody knows if this will have a long term effect on the mental health of people.

Do our medical experts acknowledge this? Is this being addressed? It would be a mistake to ignore the pain caused by the loss of meaningful once-in-a-lifetime events.