A YEAR to remember, or a year to forget? This week’s day of reflection gave us all pause for thought.

In particular I thought of two of my friends’ husbands who were lost to them in the course of the last 12 months, but whose passing had to be marked in the most meagre way.

No massed ranks of friends, though both had many. No reception afterwards where people could share their memories.

And, crucially for their widows, no consoling hugs from their family and friends.

There is never a good time to lose a partner or a parent, but a pandemic loss is one which seems especially cruel.

The first of these friends said she had planned a delayed “event” for her husband who died in hospital on April 1 last year. Now that belated tribute has had to be postponed again.

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Yet even in these circumstances, human ingenuity was not denied, with the funeral director after the second death taking a pre-publicised route which offered the opportunity for respects to be paid.

For others the losses have been in a more minor key – the loss of human contact, normal social life, the chance to travel to be with friends in other parts of the country, or even for grandparents to keep up the relationship with grandchildren who, in the nature of things, change and grow so quickly in a calendar year.

A behavioural scientist who was asked, on the anniversary of the first lockdown, whether he had been surprised at public compliance with the restrictions, admitted he would have bet heavily against our doing so for long, and, mostly, so willingly.

And, in truth, we all might have said “thanks, but no thanks” to this massive gear change in our lives, if we had known in advance how long we would be out of normal commission.

Yet here we are. And as well as the massive heroism of the front line key workers there has been the quiet, lower key courage of the teachers, the home schoolers, the many jugglers of competing domestic demands, and the determination of the public to do whatever it took to keep safe.

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