Our grief meant nothing to those in power as No 10 partied through the pandemic

We write in response to articles by Jonathan Freedland (Don’t condemn just our lying PM: save some anger for the cowards who enabled him, 20 Mayo) and Robbie Hadden (Obedecimos las reglas de Covid cuando nuestro padre murió. Estoy enojado porque el primer ministro ha esquivado un ajuste de cuentas de Partygate, 20 Mayo). Our son died a year ago, en 21 Mayo 2021 – he was 18. He’d been admitted to hospital with a severe brain injury in October 2019 – in the old world, the pre-pandemic world when we could be with him day and night in hospital.

Then lockdown happened. We naively believed that we would still be able to be with our son – he was vulnerable, brain damaged and, nos dijeron, most likely to die. We drove to his hospital in London the following day but were told to leave immediately – the kind consultant could hardly bear to look at us as she gave us our instructions. She knew and we knew that we might not see our son alive again.

For the next 14 months there were long periods of time when we were not allowed to be with him, as he was transferred from hospital to a care home – and then it was strictly for no more than two hours a day and in full PPE. They say that one’s hearing is the last to go before we die, but touch is crucial when trying to bring someone back from the other side. As we could not be with him, our son could neither hear nor feel us as he lay entombed in his room, and we have no idea how much he suffered in his own physical and virtual lockdown.

When we read about what was happening in No 10 during this period– the parties and “bring your own booze” – we felt anger for sure, initially, but then utterly bereft. We feel corrupted, tainted by the people running our government, for their cynicism, for their contempt. But our overpowering feeling is hopelessness. The suffering we endured personally – but also as a nation – meant nothing, De Verdad, to those in power. Bring on the next good headline – the prime minister lives to fight another day! Our son didn’t.
Sarah Isles and Andy Herring
Guilsborough, Northamptonshire

My dad died in May 2020. He had complications with a heart valve that had been fitted about seven years previously. The staff were amazing. In full PPE, they would hold an iPad so that we could try to communicate with him (he was put into an induced coma). They’d speak on the phone telling us how he was doing. I knew he’d gone before they did. One morning, he didn’t move on screen, didn’t respond to our voices. That night he had a heart attack and they contacted us to say he wouldn’t make it. He was all alone. One person was allowed in when they turned off the machines.

Grief is a strange and difficult beast; it brings up things you had long thought were dealt with and emotions you never knew existed. But the anger that I feel towards Boris Johnson and this cabinet is difficult to put into words. It makes me feel powerless and disgusted.

They have no empathy and no understanding of what people have been through to protect loved ones, amigos, neighbours, people we’ve never met but know we could have harmed if we’d broken the rules. They are an absolute disgrace and embarassment to this country.

They have spent so long in their privileged bubbles that they feel invincible, and every time people in this country vote for them, they show them that they are. They will never apologise for their mistakes because they’ve always done what they want and never been held to account.

The only thing that makes it better is that I am not like them. My family, amigos, neighbours, community are not like them. So there is hope.
Naomi Browne

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