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Catch me falling

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Photo of Banksy's Girl with Balloon by Karim Manjra on

I was moved today to read about the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice 'campaign co-founder Jo Goodman, who lost her father Stuart, 72, to the virus in April' and empathise with her distress at the Prime Minster not adhering to his agreement (whatever the reason) to meet with families who have lost family members

to Covid. 'She called on Mr Johnson to reconsider, adding: "It feels like we're the wrong type of bereaved people: like the Prime Minister only wants to meet with people who will smile and not ask difficult questions.'

I started to wonder 'What do words matter or mean to us as humans? What is their power, their force, their effect on us as people, our bodies, our psyches? Language combined with human presence and acknowledging the other is indeed powerful. If a friend or even a stranger has suffered a loss of a loved one, the natural response is to affirm the grief, the emotion of the other human, acknowledging the hurt, the loss, and the pain. It could be a few mumbled words, a held hand, a flower, a bowed head.

So, the lack of words, presence, the recognition of pain is therefore just as powerful and meaningful. It leaves a void that isn't filled. We need to be metaphorically held by others, to catch us falling into our sorrow. Many have suffered throughout the Covid pandemic, unable to express their emotions, and be held as in the past. We have been unable to be present at the funerals of families and friends, causing untold hurt at the lack of goodbyes.

As humans we are able to express a range of emotions and yes, we can be angry and sad at the same time, and ask why this awful death happened to so many people. Indeed we need answers to our awkward and difficult questions, which we are entitled to ask. This is nothing new, as William Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth,

‘Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.'

What was penned in 1606 and recounted since, bears witness that our basic need for connection and the opportunity to express our feelings, has not changed, nor has our sorrow. We are all affected and denied, when a senior figure does not meet with those, who represent the families of the dead.

The UN report 'COVID-19 and Human Rights: We are all in this together', reminds us that by ‘invoking the right to life reminds us that all States have a duty to protect human life, including by addressing the general conditions in society that give rise to direct threats to life.’

A good start would be to talk and bear witness to those who have first-hand experience since they will not be the last.

Carolyn is the author of the 'Manage your language, How to get ahead in Health and Social Care' series of books of useful words and phrases to use at work and impress others. Find out more here and FB @manageyourlanguage

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