Goodbye my love, goodbye

So much has changed since the beginning of 2020. The pandemic has disrupted our lives and relationships. We have been forced to separate ourselves from our friends to keep our family safe. Each day, we are reminded of loss. A loss of freedom and identity. A loss of purpose in life.

While the situation is difficult, most of us will get through it. But what happens when on top of this, we also lose someone dear to us? Since the risk of getting infected is high, we are unable to be with our loved ones during their final days in hospital. Every loss is important, yes, but the grieving process becomes much harder when we are not able to say goodbye.

Bereavement – A Lonely Time Beyond Measure

Each one of us reacts in a different way. The loss and pain hit us at various depth. We may become depressed or angry towards the person who has died. We may become anxious and fearful of our own mortality. Sometimes we think we are coping, but a sudden flutter and tumble in the stomach jolts us back in agony.  

When we mourn in isolation, extra layers of suffering are added. We lose an opportunity for closure. It may take us a long time to grasp what has happened and the grief may linger for years. If we cannot see the body, our mind can play tricks and subconsciously we hope that the person may still be alive somewhere.

In normal circumstances, we would be surrounded by relatives and friends supporting us through our griefs. From the wake to many days afterwards, we would not be alone. The person we are mourning may be gone but others are still here, real, solid. We forget to wallow in self-pity and allow ourselves to laugh without feeling guilty.

Be it Willingly or Unwillingly

Living in a pandemic, social isolation means no gatherings, no traditional funerals. We are plunged into a sea of fear and loneliness. Desperate to share our grief with others, for we long for their support, however at times we notice they are fearful of what to say or how to respond to our loss. They misunderstand our situation. Embarrassment appears on their face and they avoid us altogether. Should the bereaved be isolated and deprived of receiving any comfort?

Sometimes our loss is overshadowed by what else is going on in the world, because the spotlight is on other things. When Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh died, the whole country joined the Royal Family in mourning his loss. While the public was urged not to gather or leave tributes at royal residences, this request fell on deaf ears. Hundreds of mourners gathered outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, as if unconcerned about the pandemic. They wanted to pay their respects. They wanted to show their national sadness.

I do not claim to know why, but I guess they wanted to experience a sense of common grief, a social connection. And yet, they cannot share a friend’s fear and pain. The pain that we feel cannot be transferred from one body to another, but the mind can sympathise.

“Death” is a difficult word that feels heavy on our tongue. It means final, closure. But unimaginable as it might be, before any normality returns, it is important to grieve what has been lost. Every loss is valid, and we should acknowledge each one of them. Life has changed and along with it, so have we. Being bereaved is such a lonely time but there is no time limit to saying goodbye.

I Miss You…

It has been a while since you left. I still feel lost.

Have you ever felt that familiar feeling of missing someone you were close to? Or maybe you lost a cherished item, insignificant to others but irreplaceable to you. The void, deep inside, the churning of the stomach . . .

It is normal to be attached to someone so much that we miss them the second they are out of our sight. Our brain gets used to what we see, sending a deep feeling of longing to the heart. It is okay too if we get attached to an animal, a plant, or a material thing. It is okay to miss the touch, the sight, and the sound. The happiness that they bring us makes us feel alive, but the moment they are gone, we feel empty and lonely.

I am familiar to the feeling of loss. Whether it is because of someone dear passing away, or moving to a new country, I have felt different levels of pain. But missing someone I do not know or something that did not belong to me, took me by surprise. How could I get attached to something that I was not physically close to?

“Nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.” – Calla Quinn

Two years ago, I moved to a cul-de-sac, in a quiet, safe part of the suburbs. Nothing out of the ordinary from this insular enclosure – a row of red brick houses, unfenced front garden, set away from the main traffic. But out of the dull setting, something caught my eye. A white Cabriolet stood out among all the black and greys.

It took my breath away. In an instant, I fell in love. I had no idea whom the soft top convertible belonged to. I was attracted by with its red leather seats and sparkling bonnet. I fantasised about taking it for a spin – cruising along open country roads. It became my timekeeper. The purring of its 2.0 TFSI engine woke me in the morning and the unusual headlights shining bright reminded me it was time for dinner.

“I am crying over the loss of something I never had. How ridiculous. Mourning something that never was – my dashed hopes, my dashed dreams, and my soured expectations.” – E. L. James

Then one day the spot was empty. At first, I thought the owner was away on business, but several days later, still no car.  Over the days I caught myself standing by the window waiting for its return. I became disoriented – no longer grounded. Weekdays blended into weekends. Gradually I discovered that the empty space was causing an emotional gaping hole in my soul – an outcome that baffled me. I had lost something that I relied on; something that did not belong to me.

I realised that the loss had triggered some real issues. I had repressed emotions that I kept buried. I went through the process of mourning. I knew it would take time, as everyone has their own timeline to process grief and loss. But still, it felt silly to grieve for a car that was not even mine. In time I would heal.

“When I close my eyes, I miss you. When I open my eyes, I miss you.”

As I lean against my window in complete darkness, my eyes are automatically drawn to the familiar spot. Where once the object of my love stood out, now an unremarkable 5-seater grey minivan is parked in its place. Lockdown will soon be over and normal life will resume. But I know, in my heart, it will never be the same.

I miss you my little Cabriolet.