I heard recently of the death of someone who died over the Christmas period. It was a sudden unexpected death and it went unnoticed for some days.
Friends telephoned their friend over a period of two or three days, assuming they might have gone back to family for Christmas.
They left messages and heard nothing so went round to the person’s home to see if they were there but just not answering the phone. No answer so the police were called.
The property was securely bolted so it was hard to get it. Experts were needed to remove the protective locks and doors.
Inside, it was as friends and family feared. The person’s life force was gone.
The cause of death has been given to some extent so relatives and friends can go on with their mourning. There are toxicology reports to come through but, while those are necessary, they will not impede the process of what happens next.
Meanwhile, there are relatives and friends, officials such as police, medics, locksmiths and paramedics, who are likely to have experienced some form of trauma at the way this poor person left this world. They may be used to dealing with tragic and emergency cases but that doesn’t make it any easier.
And somehow such a death over Christmas seems to make it worse, to die all alone when many of us are celebrating with our loved ones at this time.
I’m told that those who entered the person’s home were shocked at the squalor. There was dirt – of all kinds – and mess as though nothing had been cleaned for years. Takeaway cartons were discarded where they were finished; empty bottles of alcohol lay beside chairs and a sofa and there were no sheets on the one double bed. Just a mattress with a pillow. Nothing else.
The signs might indicate someone with depression or an alcohol problem. I don’t know, I never knew this person. What I am told, however, is that pre the pandemic, they enjoyed meeting friends and going out to the local pub. True, they rarely invited friends into their home but some had been there and not seen anything to concern them.
So, what seems to have changed someone from being a reasonably sociable human being into a total recluse in a period of just less than two years? Yes, that’s what I suspected too. Covid.
It seems this person went into extreme covid-protection mode. They – I’m keeping this gender-free for confidentiality reasons – was very afraid and took the government’s laws, rules and regulations as seriously as it was possible to take them. Perhaps even to extremes.
They ordered all their shopping online, left it outside to allow any germs to dissipate and then slowly and laboriously carried it in with surgical gloves and then washed it all through again. I don’t know how the takeaways were managed but they seem to me to give an indication that, despite all this extreme care (even obsessive behaviour) this person still wanted to live.
So, imagine, you go from being a mildly outgoing person some two years ago with, admittedly some tendencies that a professional might wonder at and bring to your attention, to somebody who continues to live but seems to have also completely shut down.
The problem was, because of lockdown, such extreme behaviour went unnoticed. There were no checks or balances because no-one was there. All state-run organisations had gone to ground, including GPs, social workers, community carers, and to be fair they were only doing what they were told to do. Everyone had to be kept away.
That also applied to families. If you were individuals who were all part of one family but lived separately, you either had to bundle together or stay on your ownsome. Unsurprisingly, many people chose to continue to live on their own. After all, it was only going to be for three weeks or so, wasn’t it?
And, in case, we forgot to comply with the latest law or rule – not for our own good, you understand, but either to keep the NHS safe (isn’t it supposed to keep us safe?) or to protect others – we were threatened with a possible £10,000 fine or even a 10-year prison term.
Meanwhile, those who had imposed such draconian laws on us have now been found to have been partying their way around lockdown from almost the start of it.
So, when I heard about this latest death, I felt both sad and angry because of what covid and lockdown has left for us.
This particular death will never be added to that strange number reported on the TV and radio that is signalled as being “with” covid, rather than “from” covid – making the numbers impossible to understand.
Instead, the death certificate will register something quite different. A sad tragic accident that ended the life of someone who was perhaps a little vulnerable. We can be momentarily upset but not too concerned; it’s unusual after all.
Except that I worry it’s not. I imagine there are many more sad deaths like this one that will never be recorded as they should be. Deaths that might have been avoided if not for lockdown and its strange, unconsidered laws and rules that forced us to comply, even when we disagreed. We know they were unreasonable because the behaviour of our political leaders shows us. They partied. They did not believe they were going to die.
So where do we go from here? I’d suggest it’s an easy one. No apologies, no lessons to be learnt, no waiting for inquiries. Just no.
We must never let this happen again.