Days 4 & 5
The reality of what’s happened is beginning to sink in.
The European Parliament will close the EU Schengen border on Tuesday at midnight. At that point, 700 million people will be living in quarantine. In most countries, the military has been mobilized. Public life has shut down and it’s anyone’s guess how long for.
Hotels are being turned into hospitals, private clinics have been requisitioned, therapists and university students with sufficient skills are being brought in to help. Immediate financial aid packages for individuals and small businesses have been announced by several governments.
There’s also a number of states offering to pay mortgages and rents of those directly affected by the lockdown. A wave of solidarity is sweeping across the continent. Likened to being in a state of war, we have come to realize that we’re in this together.
The initial shock is giving way to a sense of community and people are trying to help each other. Neighbors are offering to shop for the elderly and vulnerable. People smile at the bakery and wish you a good day.
Paradoxically, we’re pulling together precisely because we’ve been told to distance ourselves.
Some of my loss-parent friends tell me quietly that they don’t mind dying. Others are very frightened because they’re pregnant or have children who have pre-existing conditions.
For those suffering from PSTD, recent events have triggered panic attacks. Having to stay home won’t make much difference to many – life post-loss can be extremely isolating.
Like many bereaved parents, I don’t find social distancing difficult. Restaurants and churches have shut, and all events are canceled. Hanging out with friends in the park is banned. The beaches are closed.
My whole world turned upside down within seconds. It may seem odd but the dystopian pandemic reality within which we all find ourselves today perfectly matches my post-loss existence.
As I sit at my computer, I feel calm. I’m doing what I can. In the morning, it’s birdsong that wakes me.
Pollution is down so the air is clean and fresh. It’s right that we’re stuck at home and in so doing, trying to contain the virus. Our simpler, reduced lifestyle will save lives.
It’ll also teach us that we can live without superfluous things.
Every night I thank the exhausted medical providers, the supermarket workers, the police who are keeping the streets safe. It’s a time for gratefulness for what we do have yet I’m sad.
I wonder about the families directly affected by Covid-19 and my heart goes out to them. I also think of those living with abusive partners who must now survive a new hell.
And of the elderly who won’t be visited and may not understand why.
At home we’re doing lots of cooking – menus are the subject of lengthy conversations – so we’re getting through the food. Among friends, we’ve made WhatsApp groups to keep each other cheerful whilst staying connected.
We message regularly if any of us gets sick. Our cell phones are life-lines.
I’m working from home, as are many. My son has lessons online. The fact is, life goes on until it doesn’t. Each day is a gift.
These weeks and months are just going to be drastically different.
I’ve decided to reframe the concept of quarantine and to use this time for reflection. I have no idea whether I’ll manage; ask me again in a month.
Living in grief in such circumstances will undoubtedly result in a personal shift. For better or worse, the pandemic will change us all.
What was unimaginable only a few weeks ago, is now a reality. The situation changes by the day, so I stay informed on what’s permitted.
Food shops and pharmacies are open, almost everything else is closed.
The number of infected and dead keeps rising.
Readjusting to a simpler life hasn’t been hard. Living in grief teaches resilience. I trust my capacity to deal with unforeseen events. To be kind, to help others, to show you care… that’s what counts, as it always did.
Perhaps our communities will learn these things anew and we’ll create a gentler, more empathetic, loving society?
Or maybe this pandemic will end tragically in social unrest? I pray we find our way, respectfully and united.
Anything less doesn’t bear thinking about. We must choose love and kindness, above all else.