“Everyone talks about how the war was worse than this, and possibly it was, but at least you had other people around you who were going through the same experience. In our little lockdown bubble, how do we know what experiences other people are having?”
Lockdown was very hard for us, because it took away the control and freedom that we’ve had all our lives, it just took away every last bit of power that we had. I have always enjoyed helping other people throughout my life, but that means we find it difficult to be on the other end, to accept and receive help. We are usually ultra-independent, so this really felt like they had cut the legs out from under us - although I’m nearly 80 I had never actually felt old until I was told that I was vulnerable.
It was particularly difficult to bear because the goal posts kept changing. The government only gave out lockdown orders in 3 weekly increments, so just as you think you are reaching the end of it they extended again, which was such a horrible feeling that added to the depression of it all. It was just was such a long time that it seemed never ending. It really felt like they just didn’t know what was going on and it was all just a lot of soundbites that they were giving out, and they’re putting all the blame at the feet of the scientist. Now the rules keep changing again which gives a feeling of agoraphobia, making it scary even to do basic things like going to the supermarket. I don’t think we can ever get the confidence and trust back.
Our daughters were very good with checking in on us and people rang to see if we needed any assistance, but we chose to do our own shopping online to retain a little of our independence. I also couldn’t stand the idea of someone we didn’t know doing our shopping. The problem was that we had look for available delivery slots at 3am, because that was the only time the slots became available. It makes one feel sorry for all the older people out there, that they have to sit up in bed until that time just to get their shopping done.
I used to do a lot; I was involved in committees and had a lot of friends. But over the years that has all pared down, and other then helping at Slimmer’s World once a week, for me it’s all about family and I was very content with my life like that. During lockdown I missed going out to see our children, I missed helping them with their children, I missed the cuddles. I never realized what a tactile family we are, being separated from them like this has made me realize how close we are and how important that touch is. I just have so much love in me that I want to give. This has all been very scary for my family, my grown-up daughters have been able to keep working through this, but it has still been very scary for them, and particularly frightening for my grandchildren. They are frightened for themselves, their parents and for us. Of course, naturally grandparents do sometimes die while their grandchildren are young, but this has really brought the concept of our deaths to the front of their minds. I would do anything to be able to take that worry away. As an attempt at bringing humour to the situation, I do tell them that perhaps I will live forever just to punish them!! I am usually able to find humor in every situation – that even helped us through the course of my husband’s cancer treatments – but I really struggled to find any humor in this at all. I hated that so many people were dying, I imagine people in the care home who couldn’t see their loved ones. As a family we are normally very good at “talking out” our problems, but with this we couldn’t. All I can tell you about the feeling now I look back in it is to describe it as a colour, and that colour is black. I have no hope because I think I can see another wave of this coming, that means I cannot plan for the future at all. I’ve always looked forward to the future, I’ve never been one to look to the past as I get older. Through my children and grandchildren, I look to their future, but now even that is uncertain. However, as my daughter (who is a nurse) said to me, “even the black death ended eventually”, so even if I can’t see any hope now, perhaps we should try to remember that what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger somehow.
We are very lucky in some ways because my husband and I get on so well together, we really are great friends apart from being husband and wife. Our allotment has also been a godsend, as we can work on that without seeing anyone at all, and at least we have our little garden. It must have been so difficult for people that don’t have any outdoor space at all, or face loneliness within the house. I must say that we did really look forward to Thursday nights when we could go out and clap and see people in the street. Everyone talks about how the war was worse than this, and possibly it was, but at least you had other people around you who were going through the same experience. In our little lockdown bubble, how do we know what experiences other people are having?