Covid-19 is throwing ‘life as we know it’ into something we have only ever seen in films. It’s pushed us to think long and hard about what we we really need, and shown us just how much we take for granted. (Not necessarily a bad thing?) We all have so many questions as we sit back and watch it unfold across the world, in ways we could have never imagined.
“We are in a war against an invisible killer,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock
For expats, living far from their loved ones, this pandemic hits us hard, not only because our every day life is fast becoming unrecognisable, but it’s hit us in the heart.
Whilst we are experts in conversing via video chat, and writing letters to friends in far off lands, nothing has prepared us for being helpless when seeing our loved ones in lockdown. We are only able to watch on as our older relatives need us now more than ever. Over 65’s in the UK are facing a long stretch of time at home in isolation, and when that includes your family members, and you’re so far away, it’s hard. A month ago, we could have jumped on a flight, and raced to the rescue if a parent or family member was sick, needed us, or worst case scenario passed away. Now we’re feeling shut off and we don’t know how long for. Many expats are deeply concerned they may never get the chance to see some of their loved ones again.
My sister is a doctor in an NHS hospital. Last year she had lymphoma and faced a long battle against cancer, she has only been well enough to return to work full time in the last month. I’m terrified she will get sick and die and I will be stuck here in Australia. My Dad is also very vulnerable, and she won’t be able to visit in case she passes it on as she will be exposed at work. I am so scared I may never see them again. I’ve always thought that I could get home in 24 hours and now that’s not the case and I hate it – Chloe Reynolds
“I’m feeling far away”
Flights are being cancelled and border controls are being put in place to stop people spreading the virus. When you rely on flying to get you to your family, this can lead to feelings of claustrophobia and panic. We are too far away to pop a cooked meal on the doorstep of a loved one, or pop by and check on them (through the window), so who’s going to help them?
At a time when Age UK have stressed the importance of thinking of “practical” ways to help the elderly, such as running errands on relatives’ behalf or picking up supplies such as food and medication, it is tougher than ever to be overseas. You feel helpless. The only thing we can do is make an extra effort to check in on our local community, reach out to the more vulnerable people in our streets, and hope that people are doing the same for our family too.
My parents were due here early May. We haven’t seen them for almost 4 years. Also my 70+ dad has heart condition & mum weak immunity. Yes that distance suddenly got a long way away. It is what it is, but gosh what I would do to have a hug from my parents right now – Sarah Trett
With so many frightening scenes around the world, we have mixed emotions about the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s important that we are brave, not just for ourselves but for our loved ones too.
It’s like a nightmare, my Dad passed away yesterday, Mum isn’t coping at all and my only brother is in isolation as my nephew is sick- Paulette Smith
At this stage it’s hard to ascertain how long we will be faced with restrictions or determine when will it be ‘safe’ for any of us to get home, so the most important thing for everyone to do, is keep in touch, keep strong and most importantly keep well.
I have a frail elderly mum who is 83 and living by herself in the UK. Luckily the church community are keeping an eye on her.
I have a brother who is a respiratory physician who will be very much at risk of catching the virus.
A sister in Belfast who helps run the breast cancer services whose services have basically stopped to push resources and manpower to care for those with the virus, leaving those who get sick with cancer and needing surgery having just to wait!
My other sister is a teacher … keeping teaching in her school for those children of key workers. Very anxious times. – Juliet Clayton
Despite all our worries, and our feelings of helplessness during this crisis, we must remember, this pandemic has the ability to segregate us all, but it absolutely has the capability to bring us all closer than we have ever been.
Have courage, and be kind