You could feel it in the air this past week. A weight slowly lifting. Social media was flooded with pictures of newly cut hair and perfectly shaped eyebrows. Influencers were out of their leisure wear and producing reel after reel of floaty, flowery summer looks to wear to the social gatherings just within our grasp. I even heard of someone having a Tripler; haircut, Vaccine and a Penneys appointment all in one day.
In Spain they went one step further when exhilarated Spaniards danced in the streets and partied on the beaches overnight, chanting “freedom” as the Covid-19 curfew ended across the country.
But as we take these baby steps back to our new normal, I can’t help but think of those people Covid has not only impacted but has shattered. The people for whom a glow up, a beach party or a trip to the shops will do nothing to ease the pain of the loss they have experienced over the past 15 months.
Those who have lost a loved one
Before my grandad died 5 years ago, we got to visit him many times in hospital. The day he passed away the wonderful nurses told us it was time and I got to sit by his bed, kiss him on the forehead and tell him how much I loved him. I got to say goodbye.
After he died, as is the tradition in Ireland, there was a coming together for his funeral. We gathered for a meal to remember him, to laugh, cry and pay tribute to this dear man we loved so much.
I didn’t realise till afterwards how important these moments are. Having friends and family to acknowledge your pain and offer you comfort while you mourn is very helpful.
To lose a loved one is devastating but Covid has meant for many they were unable to visit their loved one in hospital, to see them or hold them. They were unable to support them in their dying hours and when the moment arrived, say goodbye. They were unable to attend a funeral or did so virtually or with the weight of social distancing and other restrictions on their shoulders.
I would imagine coupled with grief this would leave a person feeling very let down, angry and alone.
Those who have lost their business
The ESRI released a report last week saying young people are the group most effected by job losses during the pandemic.
I was very sad to hear this. Losing a job is very hard. It is always so much more then losing your monthly wage. There is a huge psychological loss for anyone, at any stage. Unemployment leads to the loss of social identity, contacts with colleagues, and stigma. As hard as this set back is I can only hope with talent, youth, and intelligence on their side they will in time get a new job and build what resilience they can from this experience.
What the study didn’t talk about is the thousands of people who have not only lost a salaried job but a lifelong business. Research from Germany has shown however bad losing a job is, losing a business is even worse.
And there are very real reasons why business owners suffer so much more. Firstly, business failure can lead to large financial losses. Self-employed people are much more likely to run into debt, and unemployment benefits are not always available for former business owners. Secondly, most entrepreneurs see their work as being central to their lives and who they are. Because the identity of the entrepreneur is often closely tied to his/her business, it is much more difficult to separate professional from personal failure.
And thirdly and not surprisingly there is evidence of a decline in physical and mental health when a person loses their business. Today, as you read this there are many people around the country and the world not only dealing with the loss of their business and income but the loss of themselves.
Those who have lost their chance to have a baby
In April 2020, The Irish Times published a letter written by Sarah K (not her real name) about the effect of the closure of fertility clinics in Ireland. Here is an extract from that letter.
I’m writing this letter to raise awareness of the countless women and men whose hopes of having a family are currently on hold due to the cancellation of all fertility treatments.
I’m 42 years of age, and more than two years ago, I started down the precarious road of fertility treatment. After three rounds of IVF, countless diagnostic tests, and three early miscarriages, two weeks ago I was due to have my fourth embryo transferred.
A few days before the procedure, I got a call from my fertility clinic to say it was cancelled indefinitely. My hopes of having a baby in 2020 shattered, and with all treatments stopped, there is no sight of when I will get to try again.
We know a woman’s age is the single most important factor when it comes to fertility. Any delay, even a month, can mean the difference between success and failure.
For me, one of the hardest and most frustrating parts of the IVF process has been my inability to translate into words the sheer desperation and sense of urgency I feel. If I was drowning, someone would throw me a lifeline. If I was starving, someone would find me food.
As a someone who works in healthcare, I am acutely aware of the current situation and truly sorry for the tragedy that will befall so many. I know our Government is fighting fires and doing the best it can during this very uncertain time.
However, as the powers that be get to grips with the situation, I am pleading with them to strongly consider the time-sensitive nature of this treatment.
Fertility clinics are now opening their doors again to the nearly 6000 women / couples wishing to undergo or resume fertility treatment. For some of these couples the loss of the last year may mean the loss of their chance for the baby they desperately long for.