Reflections of loss on the anniversary of the first lockdown

Today marks a year since the first lockdown – March 23 – which also marks National Day of Reflection.

The day organised by Marie Curie looks to reflect on collective loss during the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting those who have been bereaved and offer hope for a brighter future.

Our partners, Age UK Salford, have adapted and evolved its services during the pandemic to meet the needs of older people, including the Empowered Conversations team joining the charity to extend its dementia support service.

The Empowered Conversations team help people from dementia diagnosis through to end of life and bereavement, enabling people to talk through their loss and share memories.

Here Amanda Barrell, Empowered Conversations Project Facilitator, talks to Lesley about losing her mum, Liz.

What has been the hardest part of losing your mum, throughout this time?

“The hardest thing for me and my brother was not being able to grieve properly and being thrown into caring for Dad. I’ve always been a huggy person and one of the biggest things for me was not being able to have physical contact with people.

“Mum and I used to ring each other every night at 9pm, the first time I couldn’t ring her at 9pm, I broke down. It is the first of everything! Mum’s birthday on New Year’s Day was so hard.”

What has helped you most throughout this time?

“Talking to you Amanda and having you there as a sounding board and to help me make sense of it all. I don’t know what I would have done without you, just having someone there and being so understanding.”

Has there been anything specific that we have used that has really helped?

“My mountain (my personal analogy), it has been a good visual to see myself at rock bottom and see myself climb up, even right down to the times when I felt like I was hanging on the edge by my fingertips. It has been a goal and now I can see how far I have come.”

How would you like to remember your mum?

“Mum was a special person, she made a difference to other people’s lives, without realising it. She loved both fiercely and unconditionally. She gave the best advice, even if you didn’t want to hear it at times. She was the most loyal and beautiful person inside and out that I’ve ever known.”

What are some of your favourite memories?

“The way she would light up when she saw her grandchildren. I remember when she and dad would pick them up, she would ring home a few minutes before they were to arrive and say: “put the kettle on!” She would then pass the phone to the kids, so I could hear them excitedly shouting, “2 minutes, we’ll be 2 minutes!” I can still picture her smiling– brimming with pride! It is the little things you miss the most!

“Also, seeing mum pottering in her garden, she would spend hours in her greenhouse despite the pain she was in.”

Lesley also wrote a poem after attending some sessions with The Storybox Project, a creative project which uses stories and imagination to empower people living with dementia. Read it here.

For more information about Age UK Salford services, visit: www.ageuksalford.org.uk for more information on Empowered Conversations go to: www.empowered-conversations.co.uk

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