Back To Work…For A While

I returned to Belfast this morning for the first time in almost two months. I had volunteered to work a four hour supervisory shift in the office where a skeleton staff are performing key duties. While my own team have been closed down for now, I offered to help another team who are still operating a customer service. It wasn’t the most taxing of days. All I had to do was field a few phone calls and clear some e-mails. Even I could manage that, I thought.

Normally the motorway into Belfast would be bumper to bumper at that time of morning but I was greeted by light traffic. It felt more like a Sunday afternoon as opposed to weekday morning. Upon hitting the city I pulled over to let a funeral cortege pass; the hearse followed by around fifty mourners on foot. I felt bad for the weeping relatives at the front as they shuffled disconsolately behind the coffin. A wreath marked ‘Dad’ caught my eye.

Had the deceased been a victim of coronavirus? And why were none of the mourners adhering to social distancing guidelines? My natural sympathy was tinged with annoyance. Couldn’t they pay their last respects in a more careful manner? Or how would I have reacted in their place? What would I have done? Grief erodes logical, rational thought. People crumble and succumb to the relentless pain. Did I have a point and, if so, why then did I feel such a pompous hypocrite?

Work itself was quiet. I did what I had to do and then made my way home again. My next shift isn’t for another two and a half weeks and there are no plans for the office to open on a more permanent basis. The Northern Ireland Executive, our devolved government, issued a five stage plan yesterday for returning to a semblance of normal society. Offices re-opening are at Stage 3, with no definitive date. I won’t hold my breath.

If nothing else, I felt like I was making a contribution. Sitting at home on full pay might sound great, and initially it was, but the novelty wears off after a while. I need to get back to work just as the kids need to get back to school. This can’t go on forever. But it must be done gradually and with great care. Relaxing the lockdown too soon could lead to the dreaded second wave that everyone is talking about. 627 people died in the U.K. yesterday. Have we even passed the first?

Tomorrow will be a return to the ‘new normal.’ I’ll get up, watch the morning headlines and then go for a run. There are chores to do around the house. The day will meander by as the previous fifty in lockdown have. We are at home and safe but for how much longer must we remain in limbo, uncertain as to what the future holds. There is light at the end of the tunnel but it is a very long tunnel. All we can do is wait. And hope.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

15 thoughts on “Back To Work…For A While

  1. I can’t help feeling that N.Ireland, Wales and Scotland have got it right and staying at home is the better policy – for now anyway. (Personally, given the Irish Sea between you and the ‘mainland’ and your obvious proximity, I would have thought you were better aligning with the South, but perhaps we’d better not go down that path!)
    Although we have observed some people ignoring the social distancing advice, the Swiss are generally very good at sticking to the rules. Even though our numbers exceeded the UK earlier on, the number of new cases and deaths has averaged only 56 and 10.5 per day for the past 10 days. So we are already into ‘Stage 2’ of the deconfinement period, with museums, libraries and restaurants allowed to open (though with restrictions). Hardware stores, garden centres and hairdressers have been open since April 27th as part of stage 1 (though again with distancing rules). There is still a rule though about no more than 5 people in a group. Having seen all the shops shut for the past however long, it was actually weird to see the doors open again. Stage 3 starts from June 7th when most other things will be open, like campsites and swimming pools. So I’m sure the UK will get back to some form of normality, if people adhere to the rules.

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  2. Thoroughly enjoy reading your work. Your honest, concise narratives are nuggets worthy of mining.I found “Grief erodes logical, rational thought.” to be particularly profound. You also have a wonderful way of seeing past your own indignation and into the shoes of those you observe. Thanks again for sharing your moments with us. Best to you and your family through these different times.

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  3. I’m afraid we are in this mode for the next year, until everyone has had it. A friend that lives in California said their stay at home orders just got extended for three months.

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  4. I think funerals deserve a very special amount of grace, to be honest. So many people have had to grieve with no one there, or over Zoom, and loss is so unique to all of us, that I don’t think we can make judgment calls on what is happening during that time. I personally would probably not be thinking about social distancing if my dad died right now. I would want as much human companionship as possible.

    I do support social distancing measures during other times, and I wear my mask when I go to a doctor’s appointment and to the store. I keep my hands washed and do my best to give others a proper distance, being respectful and kind and not freaking out if they cannot give me six feet.

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  5. My dad has been working at home since March, and will probably be working from home until August. My husband cannot, but his work in pest control is not one that is around lots of people naturally. (They try to avoid announcing to the general public that they’re there, lol. 😂) Thankfully my dad actually IS working at home, or he might have been sent to wander around the neighborhood.😀

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