Covid turned a friend into a tragic death statistic. Sharing some unfiltered thoughts on the loss.

We are fighting a losing battle, and this time there are no takeaways.

I lost a friend to Covid today. Saying it came as a shock would probably be an understatement. He was barely in his early thirties, full of life, funny, charming. And now he is gone — leaving behind his wife and a three-year-old. 

We met close to a decade back when he joined the organization I was working for then. It was such a long time ago, but as they say, it seems like yesterday. It really does. 

We worked together for about 3 years. A small group of former colleagues turned into lifelong friends. I remember the way he was unfailingly polite to all of us, no matter the situation. I remember the unique baritone of his voice, which would change when he would excitedly tell us about things. I remember all our long-term planning and exuberant discussions when he was getting married. We all moved on to different organizations in due time, but most of us stayed connected.

I remember that the day when I had my little one; I shared the good news with him. The next day his wife went into labor too. Such a little coincidence. I remember his excitement at being a proud first-time dad. In little ways, we shared those early months of parenthood in our respective homes – sharing tips, advice, and struggles with a newborn. Life took over then and during the last couple of years, we stayed in touch occasionally to wish each other on birthdays, holidays, and minor celebrations. 

And then, two days ago, my former boss shared a message about him. My friend’s family was fundraising for his treatment, as he had been battling Covid and other complications for a month. His friendly face flashed in front of my eyes and I could almost hear his voice making funny cracks. He used to be respectfully polite even when making jokes. I spent some time sharing the fundraising appeal to everyone I knew. That is all I could do.

And then this morning, my former boss texted again. Our friend was no more. 

My group of friends who had worked with him instantaneously called each other. Most of that conversation was just an awkward silence. All of us wanted to reach out to his family to console them, to help them, to do anything. But all of us knew we couldn’t do anything.

The shock had almost united us in silence. The unfairness of it all. Why is it so much worse? Is it because we we lost him so young? Is it because he was perfectly healthy and this was utterly unexpected? Is it because he has a little one who might be waiting for him at home? Is it because he is our age and it makes us question our existence? I too hugged my daughter a little closer, thinking of all this.

And we were still just his friends. We cannot even imagine what his parents, brother, and wife are going through. And how will they even break it to his son? 

Being on the Losing Side 

In India, our death toll has crossed 3.35 Lakh, and the numbers don’t seem to be slowing down. Each day, close to 3000 people are dying in our country. My friend added to this unfortunate statistic today. 

In this battle with Covid, somehow all the good people seem to be on the losing side. Till a few months back, every few weeks we would hear about the loss of a relative, a friend, a colleague. This frequency has increased to every other day now. Loss seems to be only constant in this chaos of life today.

Losing someone changes you in ways you never know. I say this from my experience of losing my lifeline, my father, a couple of years back. There are neither any take-aways nor any lessons learned I can share from that unfortunate experience. So only sharing some thoughts that came rushing back today.  

Grief needs a safe space 

Losing a family member is a personal moment of disbelief, denial, and helplessness. Also, everyone grieves in their own way. Some choose to cry, some choose to console others, some choose to organize frantically (yes, that was me). For the same person, everyone grieves differently — since everyone lost a different version of that same person. Like, my father was someone’s husband, someone’s friend, someone’s uncle, and meant different things to each of them. All of us mourned him in different ways. At a time of loss, we are fortunate if people trying to provide support are surrounding us. But sometimes there is no right thing to do. There are no right words that can make things better. All that is needed at such times is a quiet hug, non-judgemental words, and especially no accusations, suggestions, or complaints. 

Grief brings perspective 

Whether we lose someone in the family or a close friend, it mostly brings in a momentary perspective. Am I really focusing on the important things? Can I not take out a half-hour to have a meal with the family every day? Can I not keep the phone on silent and spend some time with the kids? Can we not end our fight before we go to bed? Do I really need to disconnect the phone when my parents call, thinking that I will call them back later? Grief puts things in perspective, even if for a few fleeting moments. It makes us appreciate the unsaid gestures, share our unshared emotions, makes us plan to reconnect with people we lost touch with. But then, as time passes, life again takes over and we lose ourselves with it. We lose the perspective again, though the grief never leaves us.

A Better Place 

As I was talking to another friend, she said something morbidly deep. 

Perhaps we are looking at death all wrong. Perhaps it is the best place to be where you actually get to have and be everything you ever wanted. Maybe it is a place of peace where there is no sadness, no discrimination, no violence. If we look at death like that, wouldn’t it help us feel differently about our loss?

To be honest, in moments of grief, it is impossible to understand this point of view. It is painful to try looking at a bigger picture for our loss. So, all we can do is to provide support to each other, in the ways we all need. 

But time helps. Like I now believe that my father is in this magical realm — the one my friend talks about—like my personal guardian angel.

My dear friend — Somehow, we can’t imagine this for you today because of the unfairness of it all. But someday I hope we can all believe that you too are in this magical realm, content and at peace, looking down on your family as their guardian angel. All I can say today is —  So long, my friend!

This article was originally published in Illumination. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

About The Author

Hello – I am Roselin. For more than a decade now, I have been working in sustainable development, and I absolutely love it. I also love being a mom to an adorable three-year-old. When I am not juggling PowerPoint and parenting, I enjoy being a librocubicularist and moonlight as a writer. I also believe in the power of chocolates and Harry Potter!

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