Coffins of Covid-19 deceased in a crematorium in Dülmen
Rolf Vennenbernd / picture alliance / dpa
Almost exactly a year ago, at the beginning of March, I celebrated her 91st birthday with Aunt E.
Everyone calls her Aunt E., including me, although I only became part of my friend's family a few years ago and she is not officially my aunt.
It was the kind of birthday for which a room in a pub is rented, two dozen people sit at long tables, everyone talking excitedly.
It started punctually at lunchtime, there was soup, dumplings and dessert, and Aunt E. was hugged tightly and often throughout the meeting.
Samira El Ouassil
Photo: Stefan Klüter
Born in Munich in 1984, is an actress and author.
In 2016 her book “The 100 most important things” (with Timon Kaleyta and Martin Schlesinger) was published by Hatje Cantz Verlag.
In 2009 she was candidate for chancellor of the »party«, which at the time was not allowed to vote in the federal election.
She was recently awarded the Bert Donnepp Prize for media journalism for her media critical column »Wochenschau« (uebermedien.de).
You know that special hug that is given to people of old age, because every year you are more happy to see them.
This special hug is gesture of relief and gratitude - about the fact that you can still spend time with them.
And when you say goodbye, you squeeze it a little tighter - not too hard so as not to break the fragile body, but firm enough because you're a little afraid that it might be the last time.
Aunt E. is very fit, robust and resilient for her age.
I would like to be that strong at 91.
At that birthday dinner a year ago, a few of those present had just returned from a vacation in Italy.
We had all heard the reports from Bergamo - “bad, yes, bad” - at the same time we made unsuspecting jokes like: “Jens, not that you brought us Corona from Italy, maybe we shouldn't hug Aunt E. so much . "
Like a scene from "Black Mirror"
A good year later I'm at a funeral in a cemetery.
Aunt E. recently contracted Covid and her son infected her.
He had brought the virus home with him from work, although he had done everything to protect Aunt E. as well as possible: distances were kept, visits reduced, shops avoided, but there were many walks in the fresh air.
Taking care of his aged mother and taking care of her health were the purpose of his life, even before the pandemic.
I had seldom seen a son who cared for his own mother so lovingly.
Aunt E. survived the infection well, with almost no symptoms.
She is fit, robust and resilient.
Her son, who was thirty years her junior, did not survive Corona.
Before his funeral, "Yesterday" is played, then we march towards the grave with black clothing and white FFP2 masks on our faces.
I feel like in a scene from »Black Mirror«, that's how post-apoclyptic it looks.
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When we stand in front of the hole and the urn is lowered, I'm afraid that Aunt E. will collapse.
How much sadness can a heart endure?
She speaks - struggling to maintain composure - in the group: »I have experienced and endured so much in my life.
That I have to bury my son now at 92 ... I just don't understand, I just don't understand. "
Your son, the Covid bodyguard
I do not understand it either.
It all doesn't make sense.
We stand around her son's grave and do not understand how such a normal, healthy man in his early sixties can die of Corona.
The man who took care of her like a Covid bodyguard who was there for her.
Cut out of reality by infection.
No old age, no accident, no cancer, but this strange disease.
Tears and snot run into my mask, I have no idea how to cry properly under an FFP2 mask, my mouthguard catches all of my excessive demands for me.
In view of the more than 70,000 deceased in Germany alone, many people should have seen the burial of a corona dead by now.
I do maths wildly and naively while I see the mourners: If each of these more than 70,000 deceased had at least 20 people who will miss them, who came to their funeral and stood crying at the grave, then that would be 1.4 million bereaved.
They too are victims of Corona, this surreal thing that has only existed in Germany for 425 days.
A small town of people has now died, and a whole large city like Munich has been affected by the loss of these people.
No room for individual and collective grief
How are all these sons, daughters and grandchildren who lost their parents and grandparents?
Where is your lobby?
Where are they being listened to?
Where is the space for this individual but also collective grief?
This mourning is negotiated privately in the fenced-in cemeteries, buried there and conveniently hidden, even if the Federal President recently spoke to the bereaved.
I want to hug everyone that day, but it doesn't work, we can't, we clumsily keep our distances.
In the end I push shoulders and rub my back because I
n't give comfort
to a crying person
I hope childishly that the virus leaves us alone out of pure piety, and we wear masks and are outside and, and, and.
I say goodbye to Aunt E. and hold her hand.
Not too tight, I don't want to destroy the fragile lady, but still tight enough because I want to hug away her sadness, caress away her fear of loneliness.
But how tightly do you actually hug a grieving mother whose child has died of Covid?
I dont know.