Losing life remains the ultimate cost in this pandemic. Yes there will be untold economic damage, stress, financial burden on business owners and the banks, in the end, will again be deemed too big to fail and be bailed out by taxpayers along the way. The ultimate price we pay is with our lives and unfortunately more and more people are passing away as the health service struggles to cope with the number of admissions, ICU care beds and containment of Covid-19 in the wards.

This week I heard the unfortunate news of a dear family friend’s passing. He lived right next to our house where I grew up, had 7 kids, a wife and lots of grandkids. He was a baker his entire life, rising from the bed at 4am each day to bake bread. He was a rock of sense of our road growing up, a quiet man, kept himself to himself and somehow managed to stay sane as between just his house and ours, there 13 kids running around growing up. It seems insane to me but that was normal back then.

The experience of bereavement is especially difficult during this pandemic. After developing a kidney infection, he was transferred to hospital from his home where he contracted covid which lead to pneumonia which ultimately lead to his passing. For the last few days in hospital only 1 of his 7 kids was allowed in to see him in his final hours. This is inhuman and lacks vital compassion.

The funeral service in the church was restricted to 10 people. This restriction applies to a church building that could easily house 500 people sitting 2 meters apart. Only about a third of his immediate family were granted access to the funeral mass, with the remainder of family left to stand in the cold and rain outside the church. Inhuman and lacks compassion.

At the graveside, the family did not get to even witness the lowering of the coffin into the ground, a deeply symbolic part of the process that helps the brain process the grief , as he was lowered into the grave while the family were restricted to standing 50ft away. Inhuman and lacks compassion.

Afterwards, everybody went home as there was no drinks or food gathering permitted as all hotels and pubs are closed. After burying your Dad that morning, you are back at home after lunch, with your head in a tailspin at how fast it all went. With no social aspect, there was no opportunity for the family to hear stories from people that knew him, no opportunity to reminisce as a group, to laugh, to cry, to grieve. Inhuman and lacks compassion.

This whole experience lacks vital compassion, sensitivity and basic humanity as we struggle to bury our loved ones against a backdrop of severe restrictions in society.

My heart goes out to them as they begin to grieve the loss of their Dad, even against these odds.

Much love and stay safe out there.

JP