• Ellen Dorrington

Lockdown Erases the Boundaries of Grief

She died in May. For me, the start of spring signifies the start of dying. With each evening, as more and more daylight lingers in the sky, I’m mixed with feelings of the joy of the approaching summer sun, and the unusual knowledge that this time, a few years ago, we were hurtling towards her death. April and May are months of sitting in the sun, and how that had become synonymous with shock: sunburnt, and dazed.

This year I am in lockdown. The days start and end in the same place. I go for walks around the duck pond at my local park, and I don’t do much else. I have lost my buffer board, the outside world, which was the contrast between me-without-grief and me-with-it. Before (a time that seems far away now) I had cafes to meet friends in, I had restaurants, I had the crumbs of a croissant beside my laptop. I had late night tube rides with friends, I had the sparkling streets of London. I wore glitter, I liked to look at others and what they wore, how they sang and laughed. I liked sharing the city with others. I had my university library, with its big windows that let in lots of light, I had my own life with my flatmates, a different type of family. We danced around the living room, we watched bad TV.

Part of grieving is forgetting you’re grieving. It’s about being reborn into the world again, this different world that no longer has the one you love in it. Most ‘progress’ is made in finding your footing, and pushing all that love you have into different people and places. When it gets hard, the outside world comes to remind you that it's worth taking each tiny step away from the softness of grief: a laugh, a good comment, the breeze coming through a bus window on a hot day.

Without these things everything becomes missing them. I miss her when I look at the ducks. I miss her when I’m around water. I miss her when I wake up and when I go to sleep (which is often the time I miss her the most).

But I also know it’s a gift to still be soft from her death. When there’s no boundaries or ways to shut it out, I welcome her back into my life again. It hurts to hold, but also, much more, hurts to let go. In lockdown I have an excuse to pause and feel it. And when we return to our boundaries, I hope some of them aren’t so stubborn, so I can bring her back into my glittering life.

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