I have received over the past few days, hundreds of emails concerning the Dominic Cummings saga. Below are just a few of the quotes that have really stood out to me and that I think are important to share more widely. For obvious reasons of privacy, names have been redacted.
Last year my siblings and I had to make an incredibly difficult decision to put our 79 year old mother into a care home that specialised in caring for residents with advanced dementia. Whilst mum really wasn’t mum, at least she recognised us when we went to visit her, and she always seemed happy to see us. Since lockdown we have clearly not been able to visit her, but the staff have been great and have often used their own phones to FaceTime mum for us. Still, it’s not the same as being close to her and many was the time that I so wanted to take the 50 mile journey to see her, but the instructions were clear, Stay Home! My mum has now stopped asking for us and we believe our worst fear is upon us, she will no longer recognise us!! Truly a devastating and horrid thing to happen to me and my siblings!
Still, we never felt compelled to breach or adapt the simple instruction, stay home, during this pandemic. In fact we will continue to comply with the advice offered because we do not have the levels of sheer contempt for our neighbours and the general population exhibited over these past few days by Mr Cummings and his vanguard.
My family and I, like lots of other families, have lived through difficulties and tragedies in this time.When my entire house were very sick with Corona symptoms, even when one flatmate and I were having difficulties breathing and staying awake, our family managed to not drive the 250 miles to see us. When my Grandma died in March there were only 5 people at her funeral, I was not allowed to attend. When my Father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given 3 years to live I did not see him for over a month, I have still not gone near him.
When my Grandad died in April, I had not seen him in the last few months of his life. His funeral was attended by 11 people, the only person I could go near was my brother. I cannot begin to express the negative effect this has had on myself and my family. But we did not act in the interest of our family, we stuck to the rules like the law abiding citizens we are.
My own mum has stage 4 cancer that has now spread – the spread has only just been picked up as she was unable to attend for screening and tests earlier due to lockdown and limited hospital visits. I still can’t see her in Cambridgeshire as to do so would not be an essential journey and no one in my family, including me, could justify the journey at this time.
Dominic Cummings’ actions are an insult to those who have stayed away from sick loved ones, and those who have mourned alone.
On 6th April, my younger brother phoned to tell me that my Dad had died. He passed away suddenly in his sleep aged just 65, at the home he shared in Cumbria with my brother and Mum. He’d been briefly ill with COVID19.
Since then, I have been unable to hug my Mum, or my younger brother and sister. With the exception of his brief funeral, that I feel incredibly lucky to have been allowed to attend in person, I’ve been unable to see them at all. We have not been able to sit around our family dining table, which now has an empty seat, and share tears in our time of grief.
To see Boris Johnson et al support the actions of Cummings, feels like a personal insult to myself and every other family to be bereaved the past few months. It is gaslighting an entire nation, and implying their instincts are not as valid as those in the conservative party.
For the conservative party to allow his actions to go unreprimanded, whilst refusing to even discuss when families may be reunited, is heartbreaking.
My wife is in the high-risk category, so in order to continue to work on the front-line I stayed away from home in a hotel room from the start of the lockdown, isolated from my wife and 2 year old son. I went home after 14 days of my wife being symptom free followed by another 14 days of wearing Level 3 PPE to every incident. This was difficult for our family, but the right thing to do for their safety and for patients who need an ambulance, this seems to be the ‘common sense’ approach. A small sacrifice in comparison to those who have not been able to attend the birth of their child, or hold the hand of a dying relative because they were following the lockdown rules.
Since lockdown I have been unable to see my only grandchild and/or help out with her childcare as I usually do. I have not seen either of my daughters or any of my friends except on Skype. I have lost two family members and been unable to offer comfort or condolence in person to my relatives or attend the funerals. In both cases the deceased died alone as their next of kin were not allowed to visit them in hospital, despite neither of them having Covid 19. My elderly mother, for whom I am a carer, was distraught at being unable to attend their funerals. In other words, I have obeyed the government’s lockdown rules despite the heartache it has caused because I can see the sense in them.
I have a friend who shortly before lockdown received the news that the stage IV bowel cancer she has been living with has recurred. They predict she has six months to live. She has been unable to start the only treatment that may extend this (chemotherapy) because of COVID-19 and has not been able to see her family or friends because of the lockdown. Spending the last weeks of your life in isolation is a much more extreme circumstance than that faced by Dominic Cummings but she hasn’t broken the rules because she puts others before herself.
Or my brother and his wife who live in London and have a one year old little girl. They live in a very small flat with no outside space. They both had COVID-19 in March and didn’t break the rules even though they were worried about their little girl. They could have come north to their family but, again, they prioritised stopping the spread of the disease and protecting others over what would be best for them.
Or the most tragic death of a relative in York to whom we couldn’t visit and only 4 of us were able to attend her funeral.