Twelve months lost – but it's a lot when you are 72.
Thu May 06 2021
One of the great tragic consequences of the pandemic protocols is the forced separation of spouses. The most tragic of course is where one spouse is confined in a 'rest home' while the other spouse still resides on 'the outside' but can no longer visit the confined spouse. Worse still is when one spouse is dying, or dies, and the other spouse cannot say good bye, nor observe traditional mourning rituals Grieving will always happen, but made worse by this forced separation.
The twelve months +, and counting, of severely restricted liberty is hardship enough, but when that includes the loss of actual contact with loved ones (and Zoom and Messenger and the like are not sufficient, though better than nothing) the hardship is worse, much worse. The limitations of Skype and other Telecon modes put the lie to the old ATT/Bell slogan – Reach out and touch someone.
It is well established that loneliness is a major cause of depression and depression leads to other chronic health problems. Sufficiently frequent contact with others relieves this somewhat but is still no substitute for loving companionship.
Add to this the notion that 12 months of a life lost means different things to different demographics. To a ten-year old, a year of lost youth can seriously affect their long term mental models. To a 20 something, or even a 40 -something, not too much; in fact the lost year may become a significant memory marker. But for a 70-something a lost year, and counting, is a significant loss. There are not many years left to live when you are 72. (And don't give me the naive homily of long life yet to live – it's not a matter of lifespan, it is a matter of 'healthspan' and at 72 it is simple arithmetic that the number of years of mental and physical vigour remaining is clearly short. Let's say, with luck, we make it to 80 more or less intact. From age 72 that's a mere 8 years. 12 months lost for a 40-year-old is a 'mere' 2.5%, but for a 72-year-old 12 months lost out of 96 available is 12.5%.
I left my Filipina 'asawa' in The Philippines in 2020 May due to covid and travel and health insurance restrictions. We thought (believed? naively hoped?) it would be only temporary. 12 months, and 12000 miles, of separation is a huge loss from our lives that can't be recovered.
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I wonder how many thousands of couples like me and Carmelita have lost 10% of their remaining lives to covid constraints. I wonder if the lives 'saved' by pandemic restrictions has been worth it.