There are howls of pain all around me: on social media, in the news, on whatsApp.
“I couldn’t be at the funeral”
“I wasn’t there when she died”
“We said our goodbyes over an iPad”
“I had to rely on strangers to make sure the kids had food”
“I couldn’t sit with my son during his chemotherapy.”
“We took care of our six month old while we were both ill and it was terrifying”
“I was scared and alone.”
“I am scared and alone.”
For a while, the fear and the grief were made just a fraction more bearable because you were sure that you were doing the right thing. In overriding every human instinct to run to those you love, you were putting the lives of others above your own very real need for solace, for care, for safety.
Now that outpouring of grief and fear is shot through with a bright, barbed threads of self recrimination and self doubt. Pain upon pain. Guilt upon grief. Anger upon fear.
But you did the right thing. You are doing the right thing. Look at this curve:
Before the effects of lockdown came into play, there were over 1,000 deaths in a single a day in hospitals alone. Maybe your loss is recorded in this awful chart. Maybe it isn’t, as this figure ignores everyone who died of Covid19 in care homes or at home and who were – shamefully – not recorded by the government as casualties of their public health failure.
But had you not made the sacrifice you made, by staying apart and slowing the spread, that rate would have continued to grow exponentially. For every extra week of undistanced behaviour, we would have seen tens of thousands more families facing the exact same grief and pain you’re dealing with now.
Instead, you saved us.
Your name and your photograph won’t be on the news. We won’t applaud for you or paint portraits of you to hang in Westminster in years to come. Your name won’t be in any history book. Humans are crap like this: we like to believe that history is made by individuals, by great men.
But you – all of you who stuck with the actions needed to slow the spread of this virus despite your own fear or agony – each and every one of you did the right thing. For what it’s worth, I am so very grateful. There’s a good chance you have saved the lives of countless people, including those that I love.