Covid was devastating – why are we pretending it didn’t happen? , Emma Beddington

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MMy best friend has taken ill and it has taken both of us back to March 2020. For her, it’s rekindling the real trauma of feeling so bad and waiting, struggling to breathe, for an ambulance that never came. I was very lucky, but it’s rekindling memories of trying to get in touch with her, waking up every morning afraid she wouldn’t answer my messages, because our strong and healthy neighbor died in the hospital. , his companion was unable to travel.

Covid was so bad for so many people – why aren’t we talking about it more? My friend, who has been a long time survivor of severe Covid, is struggling to understand the refusal of many people to think or talk about the pandemic; His reluctance to understand what he has taken from her and so many others. He is amused by the apparent willingness to pretend it never happened, or that it was no big deal.

Then there is the absence of a formal memorial: the Covid Memorial Wall came into existence as a response to the lack of any official counterpart. The third anniversary of the detection of the first case in Britain in York, near where I live, came and went with little more than a tweet from the local paper. I think the lack of a definite end point makes it difficult. There is no armistice; We’re living through a fizzle (at best: there’s always the fear that it might get worse again). It’s hard to tell ourselves a clear story about Covid when we don’t know how it ends.

The same thing happened with the Spanish flu: Laura Spinney’s book on the 1918 pandemic describes a “mass amnesia” and the absence of official commemorations. It was, says Spinney, “remembered individually, not collectively … as millions of discrete, private tragedies”.

But that is certainly not possible now, when digital life means we are all embroiled in each other’s experiences to an unprecedented degree. I certainly cannot forget the personal tragedies I witnessed and read about. But I discovered something else in Spinney’s book: words nallunguarluku – “Pretend it didn’t happen”. The elders of an Alaskan community ravaged by a series of epidemics explicitly advised people to do just that. have we all decided yet nallunguarluku,

Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist

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