“Grief is different at the moment – much less of a shared reality, much more private than usual, even for England – I say that advisedly, as the English grieve in a completely different way to the other three nations. One thing that has come out of it, though, is that funerals from Mortlake Crematorium can be livestreamed, so more people are “there”, virtually. Also, a recording of that livestream is available to the family to keep, so people are watching the funeral for a second and third time, and finding comfort that way, which is very new, and I wait to see where it takes us.
Slowly but surely, things are beginning to ease. Shops are re-opening, the churches are available for private prayer on certain days. Schools are back – a bit. There are more cars on the road and people on our streets – even Kew Gardens has flung wide its gates, as long as you have a timed ticket. So how has it been?
Two questions are worth asking of these peculiar circumstances:
- What would you keep from the lockdown experience?
- What would you discard from the lockdown experience?
The special characteristic of this time of enforced isolation is the plethora of means by which we have been able to break out of our solitude and meet with others. Care and the welfare of neighbours has returned to street level via Whatsapp groups, while more specific levels of need have been met by Kew-based organisations, like the Kew Neighbourhood Association, the Avenue Club and all the other local organisations that have kept in touch with their members. That street-level care, of all the positives that have emerged over these past three months, really needs to be maintained into the future, as well as the question, “how are you?” being genuinely meant.
To discard? I long for the removal of fear. Fergus Walsh, the BBC Health Correspondent, wrote that he regards everyone he meets as a Covid 19 carrier, and that is probably fairly representative of the country as a whole. I long for that fear to be gone. I also long to be able to walk easily down the street without looking at the oncoming pedestrian with suspicion, trying to gauge if they are going to get out of the way or whether I should cross the road.
I am also vacillating about keeping or discarding my lockdown beard, but that is a matter for personal vanity alone. What would you keep and discard?
Revd Peter Hart Vicar, St Philip & All Saints Kew & St Luke’s Kew