Loved and Lost: grief in the time of coronavirus – a photo essay | Art and design

Loss of life has a stigma and the burden of grief can maintain us captive if we let it. Might this be a course of via which a beloved one may be remembered and thru which reminiscences may be relived. Although the ache of the loss might stay, might this go a way in relieving the damage and the stigma of loss of life and act as a public declaration that loss of life has misplaced its sting.

I ask every participant to discover a {photograph} of themselves with their misplaced beloved one. We then return to the situation of the unique {photograph} to copy the picture.

It’s a likelihood to assume again and keep in mind, to inform the story of that day and of the person who they’ve misplaced. Imagery permits for expression past what we are able to converse of. I hope it’s an expertise that contributes to the restorative course of in overcoming the painful affect of loss.

The serene view north from Anglesey, out over the Irish Sea towards the Isle of Man.

All of us have a unique expertise of loss that may reveal itself in some ways. Generally it’s a response that’s fairly clear for these round you to see. Maybe there are many feelings that they only don’t know the right way to let loose, they’re unsure how they need to be feeling or whether or not it’s proper to be having sure offended or difficult ideas.

It’s not about having the most effective photograph, saying the precise factor or having the solutions, I simply wish to give folks an opportunity to discuss their experience of loss.

My intention was that the mix of the images we took and the conversations we had, we might have the ability to painting a deep private story. This enables different people who find themselves struggling and going via related experiences to look via and discover power and luxury within the story, realizing that different folks have been via it and are assured sufficient to share their story.

I misplaced my father to prostate most cancers in December 2009. When my dad died, it wounded me within the deepest a part of my being. The loss formed the next few years of my life and can proceed to take action, however I don’t should let it outline who I’m. Via this time, it was actually useful to have the ability to speak about my dad. I wished to share with others in regards to the particular person he was, the feelings I used to be feeling as I processed the grief, and discuss in regards to the affect he had – and continues to have – on my life. These conversations have been usually onerous and few and much between, primarily as a result of folks simply didn’t fairly know the right way to reply.

Alistair and his father


I’m Alistair, and my dad was James. The unique image was from the seashore at Swanage in Dorset. I’m unsure how previous I used to be there, however it was a household vacation. We beloved to go down there and discover a pitch for the day, Mum and Dad would take in the solar and me and Tim, my brother, would construct sandcastles and splash round, and repeat till we needed to go residence.

He was a really loving father, he supplied for his household, taken care of us. He taught me quite a lot of rules about all the time doing the most effective, all the time attempting to be the nicest particular person and to be sure that others have been taken care of and cared for. Whenever you look again you realise you’ve been ready by your mother and father to reside your life. Dad all the time simply wished to deal with others how he’d wish to be handled.

Taken on a family holiday in Swanage, Alistair (right), sits on a bench by the beach with his brother Tim and dad.

  • Taken on a household vacation in Swanage, Alistair (proper), sits on a bench by the seashore together with his father and brother Tim

Once we bought the dementia analysis, a number of years in the past, we had observed over time that he was getting extra forgetful. He wouldn’t use my title, he was dropping his listening to, his imaginative and prescient wasn’t nice and I misplaced him as a dad over these years. I nonetheless beloved him as my dad, however I knew I wasn’t essentially going to get that reciprocated, which was powerful. He nonetheless provided to assist after I talked about to him about transferring flat; he’d say “properly let me know in case you want a hand”. I feel that’s simply his character via and thru and I all the time simply attempt to emulate that.

I went to see him within the care residence and I mentioned to the employees that I’d wish to volunteer within the backyard if potential, even when he wasn’t conscious of me being there, I might simply assist out and spend a while with him, however then we went into lockdown and that was the final time I noticed him when he was awake and alert.

When the Covid factor got here alongside, it was like dropping him for a second time, however this time, clearly, for the final time. It was troublesome as a result of I had sort of processed dropping him in a psychological sense, and now I used to be dropping him in a bodily sense.

I did get to see him earlier than he handed away and it was only a fully completely different expertise as a result of I needed to put on all of the PPE. Up to now, I’d simply all the time assumed he’d be there for years to come back and also you don’t give it some thought ever being the final time, whereas I went there, bought dressed up they usually mentioned you’ve bought 15 minutes. It was horrible having this countdown clock, the place you could have this time restrict on how lengthy you could have left with somebody. I simply set it on my watch and it’s simply counting down. I used to be pondering, I’ve bought 30 seconds left with my dad, 20 seconds left, 10 seconds left. What do I do? What do I say? And I simply panicked.

Alistair takes a selfie with his dad in South Wonston park, near to where they lived. One of the benches in the park is dedicated to Alistair’s brother, Tim, and will soon also have a plaque for his dad.

  • Alistair takes a selfie together with his dad in South Wonston park, close to to the place they lived. One of many benches within the park is devoted to Alistair’s brother Tim, and can quickly even have a plaque for his dad

It made me replicate on what number of instances I’ve seen or known as my mother and father and thought that perhaps I’m fairly busy and I haven’t actually bought time for this, however I’ll see them subsequent week. I’ve gone away pondering that it’s OK that I didn’t see them for very lengthy as we speak as a result of I’ll see them sooner or later.

It’s given me an actual appreciation for simply taking a second to understand that while you’re with household or a pal, that you just don’t know essentially while you may see them once more and that’s why it’s a must to profit from the time you could have with them. I’m attempting to behave on it in a constructive means, somewhat than simply fascinated by why I really feel that means due to Dad.

As he poses for a portrait, Alistair tears up as he remembers his dad, who passed away after contracting Covid whilst staying in a care home. © Simon Bray

It’s completely OK to cry and be a blubbering mess typically. In case you attempt to cease it, you’ll really feel lots worse. I do know that significantly for males there’s this societal stress to be a powerful help and a rock for folks, however to your personal sake, for women and men, to let your physique do what it must do. You wish to cry as a result of your mind is telling you that it’s good to course of this, to not battle it however to let it occur, then you definitely’ll really feel that stress is unloaded.

Johnathan and his father


My title is Jonathan. The image of myself and pop was taken on Christmas Eve 2019. We’d had Christmas collectively for the earlier 54 years and it was a practice we by no means broke. It was a superb occasion, we went out for a meal after which got here again and exchanged items right here.

My dad was 88 and he was getting previous, issues have been failing. As a son it’s actually upsetting when mother and father become old. I might do something to try to make his life simpler. I noticed that he was strolling badly and he mentioned that the flesh on his ft was getting thinner and thinner and it was painful to stroll. He’d by no means been right into a Nike retailer, however he hobbled in, after which fairly quickly we have been having him attempting on a number of pairs and we fitted him up with a pair of Nike Air Max. He was just about operating across the retailer, which was actually beautiful, actually heartening. I felt as if I’d knocked off 10 or 15 years!

Jonathan took his dad to the Nike store to buy these Air Max trainers, which dramatically improved his mobility for the last few months of his life. © Simon Bray

He was so busy, I couldn’t sustain with him. I’m half his age, however he was out each evening of the week. He would attend choirs, he was within the Higher Manchester Police Choir, the church choir, he was in Probus. I simply don’t assume he preferred being at residence.

He was the particular person I’d recognized longest in my life, he was all the time there. He was a bit like Switzerland, he by no means actually provided a view, however he was all the time there to help me and catch me if I fell or tripped. It’s three months since he died and I’ve spent the final three months going to name him day by day. So it’s been troublesome.

He was the 12th coronavirus sufferer within the UK, so it was proper on the very begin. The well being service and society as an entire didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know the right way to course of and take care of the virus at that stage. In order that was actually troublesome, as a result of we couldn’t go to see him. We have been solely allowed to see him on the very finish with a number of protecting gear, but when he hadn’t have had the coronavirus he most likely would have been right here as we speak, as a result of they might have handled his underlying well being points. It’s actually, actually troublesome.

The quiet kitchen. Jonathan’s dad died on 13th March, well before lockdown was introduced. © Simon Bray © Simon Bray

He died on Friday 13th, which I simply couldn’t imagine. The final time I noticed him, we’d had a chat and I’d mentioned what a cool dad he was, that he’d carried out a very good job, and he mentioned, “No, I don’t assume I used to be that good”, which I believed was actually candy. I mentioned goodbye to him and went into the anteroom, the place I needed to take off all of the protecting gear. I used to be midway via taking it off and he known as me again, however I couldn’t return as a result of the room had a constructive air stress, so I’ll by no means know what he wished me for. That went with him to the grave.

It sounds actually unusual, however it’ll be very odd when the pandemic ends, as a result of it has felt like a really intimate time, in that we went into shutdown and I might take into consideration my dad’s expertise, however it was like a shared expertise with the entire of the world. I dread to consider different households going via the identical factor that we went via. When somebody dies of most cancers or a coronary heart assault, it’s dreadful, however that’s the second. Whereas my dad died on the 13 March and from that time on, coronavirus has been on the information each minute of each hour of day by day. It was like somebody sticking a knife into the wound on a regular basis, there was no escaping from it. As a household we felt correctly battered.

Jonathan reflects on losing someone amidst a global pandemic. Seeing it on the news every day has felt like, ‘Someone sticking a knife into the wound.’ © Simon Bray

Usually in case you undergo a bereavement you could have the help of household and buddies, and we couldn’t go and see anybody. We have been in lockdown earlier than the nation, in our personal lockdown, so it’s been a really lonely time. Each step alongside the best way was troublesome, it felt as if we have been unlucky pioneers. The primary funeral director that we went to wouldn’t take care of us. It’s been uncommon.

At his funeral, we solely had 10 folks there and I preferred it as a result of it was good and quiet. I’d found tapes of him singing so we truly performed him singing a music on the best way out and it made the hairs on the again of my neck rise up. That was actually magical.

Philip and his parents
  • Philip stands together with his mother and father on a summer season night on the balcony of his caravan, situated on the north coast of Anglesey. Second picture: Philip returns to the caravan to restage the {photograph} after dropping each of his mother and father inside 48 hours to Covid-19


My title is Philip and the {photograph} is of me and my mother and father. We purchased this caravan in 2016, they usually have been very a lot a part of our lives, so they might come for a weekend. We’re within the very north of Anglesey. In case you consider the island as a clock, then we’re at 1 o’clock, overlooking essentially the most northerly lighthouse, Level Lynas.

My dad was a travelling salesman for James Stewart and Co in Ardwick, reverse Manchester Apollo. His turf was Moss Facet. He used to promote from a list going door to door and he was well-known within the space. He did that for 30-odd years.

The view back up to the caravan park from the coast. Being only a small site, the caravan park is closeknit community.

My mum introduced us up, two boys who preferred to battle and preferred to be boys. She was additionally the bursar on the Ryleys college in Alderley Edge, and was very into newbie dramatics, so was a part of the Wilmslow Inexperienced Room Society. She was in quite a lot of performs, then did quite a lot of backstage and in her older years did quite a lot of wardrobe, so there’s a crew of six that meet each Tuesday to speak and kind the wardrobes out.

Mum had coughs, she positively had Covid.She was match and wholesome, strolling a mile a day, within the drama group. Dad was enjoying golf and doing the backyard, however he died of a damaged coronary heart, principally. Although he did take a look at constructive, he by no means had a cough or any actual signs. I misplaced each mother and father in 48 hours. My household is my world, so the one reassurance is that we have been telling them to remain in, eat and have the paracetamol and do what the physician says, that they’d get via it and to be sturdy.

My brother nonetheless lived with my mother and father and needed to give CPR to each of them. They have been in lockdown, so even after each mother and father dying, Peter needed to keep in the home for one more 5 days and we weren’t allowed to go to. It’s all that stuff that you just don’t hear about and don’t know what individuals are going via. To today, he has not had any signs. He’s by no means been examined, no person approached him, however he’s by no means had a day of sickness.

The serene view north from Anglesey, out over the Irish Sea towards the Isle of Man.

We have been solely allowed 10 folks on the funeral once we might have had 200. We printed 100 orders of service and posted them out to completely different folks, simply so there was one thing for them to share on the day. We did a video, so we are able to share that with folks, however clearly no person bought the funeral that they wished.

For the primary three weeks after my mother and father died, I turned a little bit of a counsellor. Individuals would ring me up and I’d have to elucidate all the things and say properly, we’ve got to search for the silver lining in all of it, we’ve got to seek out one thing day by day that helps and is a constructive. We’ve carried out that, we’ve got managed to seek out that glimmer, even little quirky issues, reminiscences of them, ideas of them.

I suppose the one consolation is that there isn’t a solution. There isn’t one thing that we might or ought to have carried out to make the consequence something completely different than what it was, as a result of no person had that information. All people was scared and there are nonetheless buddies of my mum and pop that haven’t gone out.

We summed it up fairly properly in that if any person else got here into the room, that particular person turned a very powerful particular person. So it was by no means about them, they have been the host and hostess. Drop all the things, somebody’s are available, what can I do for you, get you a drink, one thing to eat, oven on, and we’ll take care of you, inform us what’s happening in your life, is there one thing we will help with?

Philip takes a moment to consider his parents, both of whom he lost to Covid-19 within 48 hours. © Simon Bray

I used to sit down and watch each United sport with my dad, we have been avid soccer followers and we’d chat away, so the primary time I watched United I put a glass of white wine subsequent to me. That’s what makes it powerful typically, these chats, these little bits that fill in your week. It’s good to speak it out, it’s a must to try this.

I’m simply so happy that they noticed each my daughters get firsts, graduate and be within the jobs they wish to be in. They burst with satisfaction about my women. I’ve tried to do the most effective to acknowledge them and pay them tribute, and if we may be half the folks they have been, then we’re doing a great job.

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