“Living My Dash” – On losing a loved one during Covid 19 – guest blog by Rose Bradley

Published by Jo on 19th May 2020

Rose Bradley is a Support Worker with Green Light’s Tresleigh Team in Grampound Road who together support three adults with autism and learning disabilities

Living My Dash
On losing a loved one during Covid 19

26/3/1930 – 6/5/2020

That little dash in between those dates has a very big job. How do you sum up a full and varied life in so small a piece of punctuation? Moreover, someone once said that how you spend your little dash is what matters most – will it represent love, success, compassion? Will your dash be symbolic of fulfilment or regret?

When I lost my mum the first time, around 15 years ago, to vascular dementia, I had often considered the inevitable final loss. Wrapped in guilt and wracked with pain, I had made fleeting, tentative plans over the years of a send-off, a celebration of mum’s life, a gathering of the clans to enable us to share stories and grieve with our loved ones. In my plan, I would reach out to my siblings, offering and seeking comfort. I would be by mum’s side, holding her hand, gently humming her favourite songs, being there for her at the end as she was there for my beginning. I would avoid letting her see me shed a tear, allowing her to leave without feeling she had to stay for me.

My plans did not feature leaving mum in total isolation with no family visits in the last few weeks of her life, her only company the care staff who, although they loved her, were there because it is their job. I only hope their compassion shone through their face masks and PPE. Neither did my plans see me standing in the car park outside her home, maintaining a socially-distant 2 metres from my brother, as mum faced her final hours. Covid 19 regulations meant only one of the remaining four of us was allowed to be there with mum. It was difficult to choose but I am glad my sister was there, albeit behind a mask. I only hope mum doesn’t think we deserted her at the end.

My plan never included going to work on the day I lost her. But for me, on that morning, there was no question in my mind. I needed my family – my work family. I needed to feel their unspoken support and strength. I needed people around me and I needed ‘normal’. Going to work at Tresleigh each day has given me the purpose and clarity I would not have found at home grieving alone – Coronalone(?!). For me, this speaks volumes about being part of this amazing bunch of people. In such a short time, coming from all walks of life, we have meshed into a compassionate, resourceful team offering support not only to our fascinating residents, but to each other. We are there for each other, we listen to and buoy one another. We offer support through the hard times and celebrate the successes, however small. For me, I cannot think of a place I would rather be, particularly in my time of need. Thank you guys. You mean the world to me. Furthermore, you’re helping me to live my dash to the fullest – striving to make a difference. #TeamTL – you rock!