It’s hard to process the death of one hundred thousand people. In fact, it’s almost impossible. I have been staring at pictures of packed football stadiums and festival crowds, but nothing seems to capture the enormity of it.
Maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps we aren’t built to process that sort of scale. It would probably send us mad. We are a tribal species, but the losses in our tribes where never that big.
The milestone of reaching one hundred thousand deaths didn’t make the ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine that came before it less significant, but it does offer a moment to reflect. It is a moment to ask questions of how we got here and where we’re going, but also to remember that behind every new batch of data and statistics are people. Sons. Daughters. Mums. Dads. Grandads. Grandmas. Uncles. Aunties. Humans. Lives. And grieving families left to pick up the pieces.
One such family is that of Monica Price. Monica is a regular voice on talkRADIO, a nutritionist and social commentator, she pops up every now and again to give us her take on the news. During the height of the pandemic, she appeared weekly on my overnight show and would often grace us with stories of her ninety-year-old Mum, shielding in her nursing home. She was worried about her, not just the potential affect of catching the virus, but the toll the isolation was taking on her too.
This week, as the country grieves for one hundred thousand of our fellow countrymen and women, Monica grieves for one.
She so desperately didn’t want her Mum to be a statistic. She didn’t want the word COVID on her Mum’s death certificate. She is struggling to see beyond the stats, ticking across the bottom of the screen when she puts on the news, her Mum’s life summarised as a final digit on the end of some numbers.
Except, of course, she isn’t that. She isn’t defined by an illness. She was ninety three. That’s ninety three years of life, laughter, victories, mistakes, stories and experiences. This weekend – with astonishing bravery – Monica will talk to us about her Mum. She is keen to share her experience of losing a loved one at this moment in history, but we’ll also take some time to remember that loved one. Who they were. What they stood for. What really did define them. The moments of love and the moments of humour. The person behind the statistic.
We don’t need to try to wrap our heads around the loss of one hundred thousand people. Because they are one hundred thousand of one. One person. One life. One family.
Then, straight after, we’ll have a wider conversation about grief. How do we go about grieving as a country? Can we? Dr Shelley Gilbert MBE, founder of the bereavement charity Grief Encounter, will help guide us in the right direction.
You don’t need a hot take from me this week. Just somebody to listen, a hand to hold and a nudge in the right direction.
You know where I am. See you in the morning.January 29, 2021 | No Comments