There is no doubt that we are living in unprecedented times, and covid has robbed us of a lot of things, including for many people their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Nothing compares to the loss of family or friends to this horrendous disease, of course, but the lockdowns and the distancing measures have robbed everyone of the solace we take in other people when we are in a difficult situation.
I absolutely understand why lockdown is necessary, I might not like it but I do understand and adhere to the rules, I also understand that I am in a better position than many right now. However this situation has had some unexpected side effects.
During 2020 I lost both a close friend and a family member, neither to covid, but that doesn’t change anything. The first was during the easing of the lockdown in August, and as a family member I was allowed to attend the funeral. I got to pay my respects and spend time with my family and his friends and just spend some time talking about the person we had lost and the person he was.
The second was a close friend, who despite having not met up in person for a long time, was hugely important to me and was one of those people who would always be a friend no matter the time or the distance. This loss was hugely unexpected and happened just days in to the second UK lockdown, and the funeral was held over the christmas period. of course due to the tier 4 restrictions I could not attend and neither could any of the group of us who had been friends since we were 14! There was a webcast of the funeral, which helped, we set up a whats-app group which also helped, but we each of it had to face the reality of Cathy’s loss on our own.
We were none of us entirely on our own, we have families of our own, we all had people to turn to in the face of this tragedy, but we had to face it without other people who felt the same about Cathy as we did.
As I sat in my living room, watching a webcast of the funeral of one of my oldest friends I felt like an impostor, like someone who had found unauthorised footage of a private event. I felt like I was intruding on a family event. I was, of course invited, it was a private webcast so people spread around the country were watching with me but, sitting there, watching feeling lonely, I finally realised the value of funerals and the gatherings we have after them!
I have been to a fair few funerals (unfortunately) and I have always seen them as something I have to get through to so I could get on with grieving on my own in my own way. There and then, however I realised that what this pandemic has taken from us in this situation is solace. There is a great solace in spending time with people who are feeling the same, or close to the same as you about a person. There is more comfort than I realised in talking to people with a shared history and experiences. Sharing memories and sharing stories is so much more important than I ever knew. Even just talking about normal every day things with people who are going through the same thing is more helpful than I knew. It lets you know it is possible to be sad and carry on, that others are doing the same, we are all sad, but we are still capable of functioning. Without this, left with just text based communication we were left with a shadow of what we really needed.
None of these moments make the situation any less sad, they just make it more bearable at the time.