Losing a Loved One While on Lockdown Abroad

After a 19-month-long battle with cancer, my dad died this past Tuesday. Losing a family member is hard enough; the Coronavirus quarantine measures make it worse. I can’t get on a plane and fly home right now to be with my mom and brother. My mom can’t receive hugs from friends. My brother wasn’t allowed to visit my dad in the hospital last week, and my mom was allowed in just once. We can’t plan a memorial service because we have no idea when we will be able to assemble in church again.

Grief can already feel isolating, and here we are, being forced to physically isolate. But we’re doing it for a good reason. I ask that you please continue to do what’s right for others, so that fewer people have to go through the pain of losing their loved ones during this time. And so that restrictions can be lifted sooner rather than later, and I can go home to celebrate my father’s life with our family and friends there.

I’m so, so grateful that I was able to travel to Oregon a few weeks ago to spend time with my family, for what turned out to be the week before my dad went rapidly downhill, and that I was able to get back to my children in London before the lockdown and travel restrictions kicked in. (And thank you to my MIL for coming out here that week to fill in for me.) I’m grateful for FaceTime, and for the hospital social worker who held her phone up in front of my dad for a multi-way video call with my mom and brother and me. And I’m grateful for all the incredible friends my parents have, who have been dropping off food, doing yard work, and even arranged a beautiful prayer service in my parents’ backyard earlier this week (which I experienced through FaceTime)—all without being asked. Thank you, dear friends. I look forward to when I can hug you all and thank you in person.

12 March, 2020: The last night the four of us spent together, before I flew back to London (and the last time any of us ate at a restaurant)

Until then, I’m mourning here in my London home with my husband and children, in the ways I can. The girls and I made Puppa’s famous pear crisp recipe. We’ve been eating toast topped with the boysenberry jam my mom made with the berries my dad grew in his garden. We painted pictures to send to Grandma. We talk about him, and look at photos and watch videos. We FaceTime our family and friends a lot.

And we give thanks for all the incredibly hardworking health care workers. Last night, we did the “clapping for carers” thing again at 8:00, and this time an ambulance happened to drive down our street. I hollered and shook my toy tambourines as loud as I could, and they waved and flashed their blue lights in response. Thank you to everyone who is going above and beyond during this pandemic to help others, often at great risk to themselves. Thank you.

My dad and me at the Oregon Coast in January 2019

5 thoughts on “Losing a Loved One While on Lockdown Abroad

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