5 Apr 2020

She died, I think

They say when someone dies, you want the world to stop. You want everyone to be sad. You want the world as scheduled to pause and reshuffle and not ever be the same again. You want everyone to observe the fact that this incredible, integral, powerhouse of a person has gone, and how dare anyone try to carry on as normal. Why are you laughing? Work? Well, what's the point? Why are you going out, what could you simply want to be doing? Just stop.

My nan died a week ago. She didn't die from coronavirus but did die during coronavirus, and there's no difference. The rules are the same. There are rules, now, with dealing with death.

There will be no more than 10 people at the funeral.

There will be no wake.

There will be no funeral cars

There will be no hugs, no kisses, no physical contact at all.

There will be no visits from friends and family.

There will be no raising a glass in the pub.

There will be no nice family meal.

There will be no grieving together.

There will be no physically supporting each other.

There will be no seeing Grandad until the funeral, and there will be no seeing him after. For months.

The world has stopped, just like they wanted. And I have never wanted the world to carry on as normal more in my sodding life.

In all the times I imagined my grandparents dying - we all do it - it was never like this. Of course it wasn't. And it's so bloody typical of my nan to kick the bucket at the most awkward time. Knob.

It is virtually impossibly to grieve for someone when your world hasn't changed since hearing that news, when you're in a bubble of a new temporary reality. When your days are the same, when you're stuck in, when you're doing the same walks for your government-santioned exercise and cooking banana bread thrice a week.

But this is temporary, so maybe her dying is temporary too? It's just in this reality, right? Not for real. And anyway, I'm already grieving for the world we were living in, for the life we all had - aren't we all. Get in line, Nanny.

It seems ridiculous to comprehend someone dying when you couldn't see them indefinitely. This is what I expected, I was prepared to not see her for months on end. Nothing has changed. There is no difference. As far as my basic brain is concerned. my nan is still at home. She's still here. She's with my grandad. I just haven't see them since January.

I can only attempt to process the death of my nan through my mum's face. It's my mirror, my TV, my trigger for feeling something, anything. Her face holds the only tell that this has actually, genuinely, seriously, 100%ly, fo'realsies happened.

Mum was there. She's seen my grandad. She saw my nan on her bed after she died, after my grandad had to give her CPR, after the paramedics arrived and said, 'I'm sorry', and after they shook my grandad's hand and chose humanity over social distancing, after the police arrived because she died suddenly at home, after the funeral director arrived to 'I'll take care of your mum, Janice, you don't have to worry about a thing'. All these people. They joked as they all stood in the kitchen, shoulder to shoulder, that they were having a party. Apparently.

This is all a story. I'm experiencing a story, like when we went to that living museum on a school trip when I was 10. The phone is constantly ringing, I've heard Mum tell the story of how my nan died countless times, there's paperwork everywhere, the flowers and cards keep arriving. We've run out of vases. I never want to smell lilies again. All the signs of death are there without the effect, without the change. This house is a bubble, a simulacra of grief. Ceci n'est pas une pipe. Ceci n'est pas une mort.

I'll write about her soon. Just her, just about Nanny. But right now, I think I just need people to know what this is like. What it's like to lose someone during a global pandemic and country lockdown. What it's like to lose the humanity of death.

There's no empty space at the table, yet. There's no empty chair at my nan and grandad's, yet. There are no hugs from family and friends, yet. There's no seeing the grief on my grandad's face, yet. There's no planning life without her, yet. There's no not hearing her voice amongst the rest of my family's, yet. There's no funeral, yet. There's no celebrating of her life, yet.

There's no missing her, yet.

There's no death, yet.

It's all just fucking weird, to be honest.


  1. I lost my nan this week, also to not coronavirus. Your writing has made me feel less alone, so thank you x

    1. I'm so sorry for your loss, too. I'm glad this brought some comfort. x