Westminster Diary: Helping relatives of coronavirus victims say a final goodbye to their loved ones

PUBLISHED: 09:51 20 April 2020

"Behind every call and email, was a personal story  of anguish, of grief, of love."


The sudden arrival of spring this week, in addition to the beginning of Passover and Easter, was a welcome reminder of how life can triumph over death.

At the start of the week, Watford General Hospital A&E closed its doors for a day as pressure mounted on its oxygen system. I secured a call with the Secretary of State that day and insisted that repair works, cancelled two weeks before, should commence immediately. I was hugely relieved when I later heard that oxygen engineers had arrived just two days later.

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As the week went on, we received reports into the office that some residents who we had been helping, had very sadly passed away. Others wrote in to tell me about losing a loved one to COVID-19.

Some were pleading for help so they could see their loved ones in their final few hours. Others had missed the chance to say a final goodbye. Some were unable to attend a funeral or had been unable to hug anybody when there. Behind every call and email, was a personal story – of anguish, of grief, of love. Some were very muted: could we please change the name of the email recipient. In a few cases, we were able to intervene and arrange for a final goodbye to be allowed by Facetime, Zoom or some other video call service.

Like so many others, I was grateful that I could still leave the house once a day for a walk. I used it not just for exercise, but also for contemplation.

It has been lovely to see the Rainbow Trail of children’s rainbow paintings, posted in windows for all to enjoy, now also adorned with pictures of eggs and Easter bunnies. More than ever, these symbols of love, care, rebirth and spring are a new and poignant symbol of hope and a reminder that happier times lie ahead.

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