Yes I’m obviously terribly upset, but I’m also terribly angry…..quite simply put.......because it just wasn’t his time.
I don’t want to allow Covid to take centre stage and block out all my incredible memories of an equally incredible man, but I do want to briefly dwell on the absolutely inhumane reality that this evil virus has inflicted on us all.
My dad is one of 5 children, a remarkable family of doctors born to an immigrant father, who tragically lost their younger brother 20 years ago on a charity bike ride.
With 16 first cousins, and 10 aunts and uncles, i feel blessed to have shared so many happy times together over the years as part of a close-knit, warm, loving extended family, but we were all hit hard by that tragedy, especially at such a young age.
And so once again dad has lost another wonderful sibling – an amazing patriarch, loving father, husband, grandfather, and uncle.
He was equally adored by all of his family and friends and was a beloved doctor for his thousands of patients.
But what fills me with rage is the injustice of him having caught the virus shortly before he would almost have been fully protected, having spent the better part of a year waiting and looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality.
To be unable to run to my parents, aunt and cousins to comfort them, in the way that is usually human nature for anyone, just hurts...a lot.
To have to watch the funeral sitting at my kitchen table, staring almost voyeuristically down the lens of a zoom link, all feels so wrong and slightly distasteful.
How can they or any of us grieve properly?
His beautiful wife of over 60 years kissed him goodbye from home, via an ipad, whilst he was in hospital. She had also caught covid, around a similar time and so was not allowed to be with him.
The only saving grace, in his final peaceful few hours, was the hospital allowing my cousins, his two children, to be by his side, albeit fully enveloped in head to toe ppe, which must’ve given him and my aunt, enormous comfort.
I know we are not the only ones suffering, and this sort of scenario must be playing out all over the world right now, but it doesn’t take away the pain that so many of us are feeling.
We are determined, to celebrate his life properly in the way he deserved, when this pandemic is all over, surrounded by the hundreds of people whose lives he touched, so that we can have some sort of closure.
He will be remembered for his warmth, kindness and beautiful approach to life and we will hold on to the most special family memories, we’ve all shared together over our lifetimes, forever.
If you have suffered a bereavement and are struggling to cope with your grief, please do reach out for help either on our Facebook group, via our directory of professionals or on our helplines page: https://www.lattelounge.co.uk/helplines/
Stories of Freshers Weeks like these have been shared around our kitchen table to our two younger kids over the years and my third child was beyond excited about experiencing a similar time as we planned and prepared to send him off to Uni last month.
So to hear how his fresher weeks have been so far is pretty sad really; the contrast is stark from the experience of his siblings who have gone before.
Over the summer I was very worried about how he’d cope going to university during a pandemic. Having only just nursed him back to full mental health this summer, we were always feeling cautiously optimistic about how things would pan out.
He purposely chose a uni where he didn’t know anyone as he wanted to have a fresh start and immerse himself in a totally new experience, hopefully meeting new people from all walks of life and from all corners of the UK & the World too.
Thankfully, he struck lucky with his flat of 12. Maybe it was luck or maybe it was because the uni had promised to match kids together with similar interests, it worked out well. Although him being a philosophy student who is an aspiring playwright, film director, actor, author, journalist, theatre director, who loves supporting QPR football, we weren’t sure how they’d match him up!
But sure enough he is now living with an English Lit student, a football fanatic, a psychology student and a media & theatre studies student – so they have all immediately bonded over their mutual love of thinking and writing a lot about the arts and football – oh and of course a bottle of cheap vodka!
The first week they became very close and although nothing much was going on within the campus they did venture out to a pub and the gym and a footie trial once. That was until one of the 12 caught covid.
Now, like so many students up and down the country they are all in lockdown for two weeks waiting to either get it or get out.
When I asked my son how he was coping he told me he was on page 300 of a 700 page book about the Beatles, he had finished writing a play, he had put a call out for actors and a film crew to support his play (which he was hoping to film in an outdoor setting) and he had been interviewed on the uni radio station discussing the championship league.
He’s also attended some zoom seminars and lectures so 5 days into lockdown, he's keeping himself busy and that's fantastic and reassuring.
But what worries me, and is starting to dawn on him too, is the looming reality of constant and repeated isolation. He lives in a flat of 12, all sharing a kitchen, so with one flatmate now positive they are all in isolation. Let's play this out further - if he doesn’t get covid, does this mean that every time a new flat mate does get it they will be back in lockdown for another two weeks?
If so, in theory, he could be in lockdown for 22 weeks (or in other words half his time at uni).
And with scientists saying that immunity may only last for 3-4 months – is his entire first year of uni going to be spent inside a flat of 12 with no fresh air and no exercise? No meeting anyone else, no societies joined, no in-person seminars, lectures or parties?
University is constantly dubbed 'the time of your life'.
But for current students, I can’t begin to imagine the impact this is going to have on all of their mental health and with all the money it is costing them, I’m not sure what the point of being there is right now.
Many kids aren’t as lucky with their flat mates, perhaps not gelling with anyone and hoping to meet others over time, how lonely an experience will that be for them?
Struggling to eat well, unable to go out and exercise, socialise, perhaps feeling a bit homesick. I’m worried the drop-out rate this year will be like no other and I’m also seriously worried about the increase in depression, self harm and far, far worse for kids who are locked away in their rooms with nobody checking on them.
We need to relook at this whole situation for our Uni kids.
2020 has already been a disaster for them with A-levels being cancelled, along with all the end of year celebrations that normally accompany it.
But if we don’t get it right now for them, I fear that many will never return and will be joining the unemployment queue along with hundreds of thousands of others who are already much further along the queue than they are.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, who is in charge of family courts in England and Wales, gave this and other guidance to parents in April 2020 due to the increase level of disputes concerning contact arrangements for children during the current Covid-19 crisis.
He urges people to focus on the child’s welfare and to try and ensure children are in touch with both of their parents. Communication between the parents is the key.
He goes on to say that the country is in the middle of a Public Health crisis on an unprecedented scale. The expectation must be that parents will care for children by acting sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the arrangements for their child and deciding where and with whom their child spends time.
Whether there is a court order or an informal arrangement in place, the government guidelines are that children under 18 can travel between their separated parents, if safe to do so.
This does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes. The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
A child’s safety with regard to the virus is a matter for parental judgment, as is the use of practical alternatives to minimise any potential risk, and to alleviate any potential concern the parties may have. This may mean parents coming to an agreement to facilitate contact in a different way, for example to change the mode of pick up and drop off to avoid public transport. They could change to video/telephone contact as opposed to direct contact as a short term agreement, if for example one of the parents is a key worker or there is a vulnerable person in the household.
Essentially, a sensible assessment of the circumstances should be made. It is a matter of personal judgement and agreement between the parents, if possible, with the welfare of the child always being of paramount consideration.
This of course only applies to contact between two separated parents. Contact with respect to grandparents, or extended family must still follow government guidelines on social distancing, which is for everyone to avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with.
In some situations, it is clear that contact will have to be restricted and a common sense approach will need to be adopted by both parents.
The government has from Monday 1 June updated its guidance with the aim to return life to as nearly normal as possible. This includes more relaxed rules, but the ultimate message of staying alert, controlling the virus and saving lives will continue to require parents cooperation.
The key aspects of the new guidance include:
Spending time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines;
Going to work if you cannot work from home and your business has not been required to close by law;
More shops opening, with a plan for more to do so later in the month;
Children in early years (age 0-5), reception, year 1 and year 6 can return to childcare or school in line with the arrangements made by their school;
People can be tested as part of the test and trace programme, which will enable them to return to normal life as soon as possible, by helping to control transmission risks;
This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well and can be reviewed on the government website, on the following link:
There is separate, specific guidance on isolation for households with a possible coronavirus infection.
For example, if you, your child, or anyone in your household has coronavirus symptoms, and you are self-isolating or indeed, if anyone in the other parent’s household has symptoms or they are self-isolating, contact should not take place. But this will of course be for only a set period of time in accordance with government guidelines, currently at least 7 days if you have symptoms and 14 days if you live with someone who has symptoms.
If contact is suspended for a short period of time due to the above, alternatives should be discussed, for example, telephone or video contact.
It is important to distinguish self-isolation and social distancing which has been mentioned above from shielding, which is advice for people at high risk from coronavirus to stay at home to avoid getting the virus.
This can cause a bit of a stir for parents who need to weigh up the risk of allowing contact to take place if they are living with someone who is shielding.
The Government guidelines for those living with people that are shielding are that if one person in the household is shielding, the rest of your household do not need to start shielding themselves, but they should do what they can to support the person shielding and to carefully follow guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing).
The guidance recommends that the person shielding should minimise the time other people living with them spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated. They should keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people they live with and everyone in their household should regularly wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoid touching their face and clean frequently touched surfaces.
Following these guidelines would allow parties to come to an agreement to keep contact with the children open. However, once again, a sensible risk assessment taking into account all circumstances should be made by both parents.
Despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, it is clear, from some children contact disputes thus far, that this may not necessarily ease parental concerns. Unfortunately for some, this is having a knock on effect on children maintaining any form of meaningful contact with their separated parent.
In an ideal situation, both parents would be able to discuss the children contact arrangements and come to a sensible solution, putting the welfare of the children ahead of any other need. However, there are of course some situations where either an application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order or enforcement of an existing Order may be the only recourse.
For some, doing something for the sake of the child, even when you they don’t want to, is just not feasible.
To discuss these or any other children or family issues, please contact Shahzea Tahir on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Rights of Women website on www.rightsofwomen.org.uk for further details on our free confidential adviceline for women.
Removing the need for an alarm clock to get kids up for school, us up for work and the dog out for a walk, has meant that the one bonus of being a prisoner in our own homes, for almost 3 months now, is we have all there or thereabouts 'caught' up on our sleep (whatever that means!).
So why am i feeling ridiculously weary right now?
It's not my diet or fitness levels to blame, as I am one of the very few that has miraculously managed to commit to a weight loss and home fitness programme for the first time in years! (I know mad right?).
It's not my hormones, as that little (well huge actually!) issue was finally all sorted a few years ago, thanks to HRT!
It could be the endless housework and cooking for 7 of us, whilst also trying to juggle work commitments, but honestly everyone is mucking in surprisingly, and its not 'that' sort of tired anyway.
Really the only way to describe it is, in the words of my kids, i just feel a bit blergh!
I was speaking to one of our Facebook group psychologists today, whilst commissioning her to write a new blog for this website, and i thought i'd bring it up.
She reassured me that i am absolutely not alone. Many of her patients are feeling unusally tired and irritable right now. Apparently its a natural part of a crisis response.
She told me that there are 3 stages of a crisis which we can translate into our current covid crisis as such:
She told me to keep remembering we are still in stage 2 and to not beat myself up for running low on energy, even when the sun is shining.
So here are some of her top tips if, like me, you are also feeling a bit 'blergh'!
Meanwhile if you need some support, please visit our helplines page or you can email us too. You can also compare notes with other women on our Facebook Group here.