Family Covid by Susan Grimsdell
The media has been full of dire news about the devastating effects of Covid since it appeared on the planet a couple of years ago. Millions of people have contracted the virus, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Businesses have collapsed, governments have incurred enormous debt, families have been separated for even the most important events, like funerals and weddings.
There has been deep division at the more individual, personal level too. Family parties have been disrupted when one or two members are against being vaccinated, and the rest refuse to be in their presence. That has ruined quite a few Christmas get-togethers. Often the anti-vax ones are passionate about their views and argue so vehemently that they cause irreparable rifts. Insults and accusations fly around, doors are slammed, people stomp off never to join the family again. People have been made ill just from the stress of these family schisms.
Is there any family who has escaped the anger and passion created by these differences? Everyone I speak to has at least one member who has either emotionally alienated themselves or caused a massive fight because of Covid. One nephew ruined a pleasant Christmas dinner by raving on about his government taking away his freedom. The adults had gone to a lot of trouble to make the nicest Christmas lunch – turkey, crisp roast vegetables, gravy, cranberry sauce, all laid out beautifully on a Christmas tablecloth, bought specially for the meal. Christmas pudding, custard – fabulous, and a lot of effort, a lot of caring, a lot of money. He didn’t notice. He had his opinion and took over the event.
Everyone else had been double-vaccinated, with boosters, and all they wanted was to enjoy each other’s company, and have a nice time. Instead, the nephew upset everyone, started yelling and eventually stormed out of the house. Weeks later nothing has been put right, the family is still upset and divided.
Resentments from childhood
Another friend had a sister whose adult child died, and if my friend had gone to the funeral chances were high he would have been trapped there, in a different country, unable to return for possibly weeks. The sister chose to take offence – “what comes first in your life – certainly not me, your sister”. Age-old resentments given an outlet, never mind how unfairly.
Can we attribute all these fights to Covid and the difference in view, vax or anti-vax, or has that just been the excuse to air seething resentments and jealousies from years past? Does there exist a family where the siblings do not have long-held grudges, long-held instances where one of them perceived the other got better treatment, was loved more, had the bigger bedroom, was the favoured one? Any family that escapes such rivalry is very lucky. Given the perfect excuse – Covid – vax, not vax – and it all pours out.