‘Lockdown made me realise what’s important’: meet the families reconnecting remotely
Living on lockdown has given us time to reflect. On ourselves, our relationships and what’s important to us. For some of us, that means reaching out to old friends, or healing old wounds with people we once thought we’d never speak to again. And in a way, the tech that helps us reconnect makes repairing those relationships easier: the screen gives us an element of safety, yet we can tap directly into those emotional connections we need to get us through this crisis.
Here, three people who found isolation has had a positive effect on their relationships share their experiences – from building bridges, to creating the foundations for better communication, and reconnecting with family members they haven’t spoken to in years …
Emma*: ‘Coronavirus gave me a reason to reach out to my brother’
“I’d always had a good relationship with my brother, but it came crashing down last Christmas when my family discovered he’d been keeping his gambling addiction from us. He’d even taken money from Mum, and I was upset that he could put her through so much stress – I just couldn’t bring myself to speak to him. But after chatting to Mum over the past couple of weeks and hearing that he’d been helping her with food deliveries while she’s been in isolation, I decided to reach out. I sent him a text first and then he called me and we chatted about coronavirus and how we’ve been coping – a few days later, he FaceTimed me and gave me a tour of his new flat that I’ve never visited. I’d wanted to reach out to him before, but I was struggling to know how, so while lockdown is a very weird situation, it gave us both an excuse to push our differences to one side.
“I also realised that life is too short – if my mum could move past what had happened, so could I. In fact, I’m probably speaking to him more now than I ever did before.”
Michael: ‘Lockdown made me realise what’s important’
“My ex-partner and I split a year ago and we share a young daughter, but our relationship has been really rocky ever since we broke up. We’d fight all the time and nasty words would be fired back and forth at each other over text message. But when the lockdown happened, it really made me take a step back and think about what’s important.
“I reached out to her via text and also sent her some money for petrol, as she is driving our daughter between our two houses during this time – I wanted to make sure she knew I appreciated that she was helping me to see my daughter. It has felt like a real turning point for us and our relationship and it’s a really positive outcome from a situation that is out of our control. Now my daughter is with me and I’ve been sending my ex-partner pictures and we’ve been having civil conversations. Without this happening, I don’t know if we’d have ever reached this point.”
Jo: ‘I’m connecting with family members I haven’t spoken to in years’
“We have an extended family WhatsApp group made up of the descendants of my grandparents, both of whom sadly passed away recently. We used to use it every so often to share pictures from when people visited them, but over the years as individual families grew, and as my grandparents got more frail, we didn’t have the same opportunities to gather together. And for some of the family, my only contact was an annual Christmas card. Since everyone has been staying at home for the past few weeks, though, the group has blown up with almost daily messages – pictures of the great-grandchildren doing their home school work, baking or learning to ride bikes without stabilisers in abandoned car parks.
“My mum and dad both work in the NHS, with more than 60 years of service between them, so everyone shared videos from the 8pm clap for the NHS in recognition. And my brother, who’s a musician, livestreamed a gig on Facebook and lots of the family who’ve never had the opportunity to see him play before got to watch. It’s really lovely to feel connected to everyone, particularly as the two people that held us all together are no longer here.”