How Tim Denning Helped Me to Grieve Losing Someone, I Loved to Covid

How Tim Denning Helped Me to Grieve Losing Someone, I Loved to Covid

As some of you might know I write regularly for the Illumination publication on Medium, which is home to some very successful creative writers, one of whom is Tim Denning.

Tim Denning recently shared his plans for 2022, which I read with glee.

Tim is the writer’s best pants, after all.

Not bad for an Aussie, as they say here in the land down under. The place of the tall poppy syndrome.

Mister Denning’s endearing plans temporarily transported me to a time where COVID did not exist.

Describing a planet gifting seemingly endless expressive possibilities, as it takes your destiny by the elbow and gently guides it towards the places and situations in which you dream of venturing.


Memories of a loved one

It took only a few moments of reading, though, before the reality of living in a pandemic crashed into the party of my dreams. And I thought of my brother-in-law.

This year will be my first Christmas without him since I was seven years old.

Colin was a brother and a father figure to me, joining our close family when I was very young.

An early and cherished memory is sitting on his shoulders watching the English rock band The Police perform at an outdoor concert on Tooting Bec Common in London.

Sting and my brother-in-law were both my heroes. I sat on Colin’s shoulders, listening in awe while Sting sang Roxanne as if personally serenading me.

My first ever proper rock concert and Colin took me there with my sister. Memories like that stay with you always.


Janice Family Photo
Colin and Janice (my favourite photo)

Losing Colin

Colin did everything right throughout the first eighteen months of the pandemic in the UK.

He shielded, tucked away in his man shed carving wood.

Fully vaccinated from early on, Colin stayed at home with his new partner Karen, living like a hermit as an immune-compromised person with PKD (Polycystic kidney disease).

Karen had kindly donated her kidney to him, and it all went well.

A new kidney, a new chance at life, until the virus came and took him from us on the fourteenth of October 2021.


Fighting a Virus of the Mind

I’ve been fortunate these last two years to be living in the lucky country we call Australia, cut off from the rest of the world with extended border closures.

So, we’ve had it easy, with relatively low numbers of deaths from this terrible disease compared to other nations, and both my partner and I are fully vaccinated.

My challenge is of a different kind, being surrounded by neighbours who not only refuse to get vaccinated but delight at every opportunity in lecturing us about the evils of immunisation, citing every conspiracy you can find on the web as “The Truth”.

Wearied by this constant onslaught, I wrote them a letter shortly after the death of Colin that I’m sharing with you below:


A Letter to My Neighbours

Good morning, everyone,

The last few weeks have been extremely challenging for my family in the UK and myself.

My brother Colin has endured, fought hard, and now lost his fight against the Covid virus.

I had to take a phone call from my 33-year-old nephew Michael who told me that he was thankful to hold Colin’s hand and tell him he loved him before his heart stopped.

My Mum had a stroke last week. Unfortunately, the hospital admissions unit has Covid on its wards, so Mum must endure 14-days of isolation before being admitted to the stroke unit.

In my older brother Jason’s words, “We will have to see if she can get through this without the hospital killing her.”

Jason is a retired consultant aesthetician. He came out of retirement 18 months ago and has been working in the hospitals writing out death certificates for the people losing their lives to covid.

He’s seen many patients in ICU and watched how this virus affects people.

North Sydney Health District Authority is a client with the company I work with (here in Australia).

I write articles about self-care and mental health topics and record meditations to help with stress for those on the front line.

Some healthcare workers have shared that unvaccinated people on the wards are crying and begging for the vaccine. But, of course, at that point, it’s too late.

Why am I writing to tell you this?

I’m profoundly grieving now, and my mental health is being affected by these endless debates about “us” and “them”. “My” truth and “Your” truth.

I’m sick of it.

These debates are a virus of the mind, not based on reality.

Doctors are not evil.

There will not be a version of the Nuremberg trials, where police officers and doctors must answer for what they are doing.

There is no “they” who are coming to take away your private property.

There is no “them” and “us”.

There’s no one out there. It’s all in your mind.

Covid is a very unpleasant way to die.

Please take this seriously. Follow public health orders and, most importantly, respect and be considerate of others.

Because that person you stand next to in the shopping queue, while you are not wearing a mask, could be immune-compromised.

Do you want to be responsible for giving that person covid and potentially causing their death?

I’d rather not. But maybe I’m just old fashioned.

Stay safe and look after each other.

Thank you for reading, Janice.


What Has This Got to Do with Tim Denning

I wrote my thoughts and feelings in an email to my neighbours as it was, unfortunately, the only way I could communicate with them through the barrage of beliefs they currently hold.

My neighbours sent their sympathies, of course. However, they still hold on to the idea that the pandemic is all a conspiracy.

Despite it being here on our doorsteps now that Australia has reopened its borders with the world.

My grief rises and falls each day at the loss of my brother Colin, yet I mostly keep it to myself, being an extremely private person, and rarely talk about it with anyone else.

Reading Tim’s excellent article: My Shameless New Life Rules for 2022 subtly yet elegantly shaved off a little more of the grieving process and encouraged me to share this personal experience with you.


“Despite the butterflies you get in your stomach, practice being more vulnerable in 2022. See where it takes you.”

~ Tim Denning.

Usually, I write about creativity and like to share joyful, inspiring information.

Yet, as a writer, it’s sometimes good to communicate the more private heart-wrenching experiences to remind others they are not alone.

So, even though I find this process of sharing personal stuff extremely challenging and fear that my communication here is clumsy and not written very well, I decided to be brave and hit the publish button.

Everyone reading this article has been affected by the pandemic in countless ways, with so many people losing their loved ones, yet onward we must travel together.

So, thank you, Tim, for reigniting my dreams and sharing yours with us.

Wishing you and everyone reading this a most epic year in 2022 as we collectively lift our spirits and together believe in hopes and dreams of a better world.


How Tim Denning Helped Me to Grieve Losing Someone, I Loved to Covid
Tim Denning Portrait by Lizabeth

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