Susan Kelly

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Grief, Loss and the Kindness of

We’d been waiting for my nephew to die for a week. Or if I’m honest, much longer than that. Addiction took him years ago and it’s been a long and harrowing road since.

On the 15th May, the doctors told us he had just days left. Even a young body can only recover so many times. I should say we’d been told this before. He had been told this before. And then recovery came, and soon after, relapse. And repeat. And so it has been for a long while now. But it did seem different this time.

Unable to visit and say goodbye, I sat in my home, bags packed, 300 miles away, waiting for that call. The call that would tell me he had passed. The call that signalled my need to travel north to take over day-to-day care of my mother from my sis. The call we’d waited for, even hoped for, but would be the most unwanted call we’d ever receive.

The waiting is the worse. There is nothing so tragic that can happen in life, than waiting for that tragedy to happen in life. Always there, a shadow in the mind. It’s an especially cruel kind of limbo.

And so I waited. I couldn’t face making a YouTube video. I couldn’t face writing. Even growing and cooking didn’t help. I did the minimum to keep my work alive, and waited. Flicking through Screencasts Online, I saw a tutorial for I’d signed up for it years ago and followed a couple of people, but couldn’t quite work out what it was at the time. I logged on. I saw some people whose names I recognised: @macgenie@patrickrhone @bsag . Familiar voices, steady voices, heartful voices. They were still here. Maybe this was something.

The welcome message reminded me of the intentions of this place. Safe.

Very quickly, @miraz @hollyhoneychurch @baker @tw2113 @dejus @diplomaticdiva welcomed me in - thank you. You didn’t know I was in this very dark place but you welcomed me anyway. Those little acts of kindness were so precious to me. Warm, safe.

My nephew passed away on Friday. I began my journey north, leaving behind my partner, my home, my garden, my safe place. I’m here now caring for my mother. It’s where I need to be. Locked down in a new place. A tougher place. My mother’s stage of dementia means we can not tell her that she has lost her only grandson. She no longer has the capacity to process the loss. And so I live here with her, in this sad, surreal place of untruth and unsteadiness. My heart is breaking.

We make funeral plans quietly while she sleeps. We try to explain the unexplainable to friends and family in snatched phone calls. No they can’t send flowers, no they can’t attend the funeral. We try to work out what a funeral can look like in these Covid times. There is nothing normal about this. The time-tested ceremonies and practices that accompany death are not available to us now. We make calls, we cry, we put on a brave face, we do the best we can.

In the spaces in between, I log on to I connect with new friends and post a photo of a quiche. We share the little moments of everyday life and the things that interest us. We connect. I find myself ‘more me’ and less curated here. I take a moment to respond to posts that resonate in some way - it feels so different to the tap tap tap of the like.

I discover is not Twitter. is Here we don’t just see people who are mirror images of us - or that version of us the algorithm has decided we are. We see kind strangers and kindred spirits. Kind strangers and kindred spirits with their own complicated and beautiful lives. They share some of our interests but have unfamiliar interests too - and they might just walk us into something new one of these days. I like it here. There is hope here. Room to move. We can explore. We are amongst friends. And when needed, we can take refuge from the storm and find some comfort here. Safe, Together. Thank you.