The extreme loneliness of lockdown: 'Even though my partner is here, I’m struggling to cope'

Two days before Ireland went into lockdown, David’s wife, Maureen, went into a hospice. He stayed there with her for 10 days until she died on 3 April, ending her seven-year illness with the neurodegenerative disorder multiple system atrophy. Two days later, she was taken to a funeral home and cremated; under the lockdown rules, David was unable to attend the ceremony.

“The hearse simply drove down our road and the neighbours all came out to clap for her,” he says over the phone from his home in Kerry, his voice cracking with emotion. “That was how I said goodbye after 48 years of us being together.” David is now living alone, experiencing both isolation and loneliness for the first time in half a century.

As the global pandemic has brought a host of new experiences, including working from home, home-schooling and online socialising, it has also, unsurprisingly, increased the loneliness of many people. Some may have felt socially isolated before physical distancing began, while others, such as David, are having to cope with life-altering experiences on their own.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 28/04/20]