I live with daily text messages which make clear to me how hard it is to live with the loss of close contact with other people. Yesterday’s message read, ‘it is just an awful sore painful time for me just now. What did I do to deserve this?’ My friend suffers from separation anxiety and can disappear from contact for days at a time when I have a picture of him curled up in a ball, self-isolated, in a tiny flat. The death of his wife a few years ago and the ending of an overly-dependent and manipulative friendship leave a huge empty space which it is difficult to fill at the best of times. I try to offer understanding with some sort of reassurance of friendship and talking over ‘the good times’ in his life. We also share some ideas for what we might start once things settle back to normality. I have to admit to panicking a few times when texts arrive with words like, ‘I’m in a dark frightening space and I wish I could slip away right now.’ What to do where his phone rings out, there is no reply to texts and I am unable to visit?
At a personal level, our family is struggling with the situation where my 91 year old Dad is in a Care Home with no possibility of our visiting. ‘Will we ever see Bob again?’, my Mum asks. She has very limited mobility is living at home with a very supportive care package and her question is impossible to answer. Dad has deafness and dementia and can’t understand how we appear on Skype and why we can’t visit. Before the lockdown we had found this absolutely first class home for Dad where Mum was even able to visit herself using Dial-a-Ride and we celebrated Dad’s 91st birthday in the home with a wonderful family lunch party. From that great experience we have moved so quickly to the situation with updates telling of cases of Corvid-19 infection in the home and even of a death. All this plays on all our minds as we look to support one another with a sense of helplessness and uncertainty.