Paying Tribute

As I looked out of my window the other day, a bright hot sunny day. I saw family groups and individuals dressed in their best.

The young men suited and booted and the young women uncomfortable in their heels. But, this was no ‘get together’ of people disobeying social distancing rules. No, they were paying to tribute to one of our own who had sadly passed away. In these extraordinary times, we no longer have traditional funerals followed by a wake. Instead, people are notified of a route which the hearse will follow, for some, round Belle Isle Circus, up Belle Isle road and of course past Belle Isle WMC and numerous other routes determined by the families of those who have passed.

But, whatever route the funeral procession takes, people turn out dressed in their best, despite having nowhere to go afterwards, they can’t get together to celebrate a life well lived. So instead they pay tribute in the only way that they can. And in true working class tradition, they dress for the occasion, a sign of respect. As I watched those young people in all their finery, uncomfortable on a hot sunny day, waiting for the hearse to pass, I knew the effort that they had made for such a brief glimpse of a life once lived.

I cried that day, and will cry many more times I am sure as these processions continue, until some sense of ‘normality’ is restored. But the fact that people turn out to pay tribute, to give some small comfort to the families and of those now gone, in the only way that they can, is a credit to our community. We can no longer fill church halls, no longer go to the funeral service, have a drink afterwards. Celebrate a life once lived, tell stories to each other about the person who has passed. No longer hug families, to offer brief comfort. That most human of desires, social contact. So instead we line the streets and send out a virtual hug, acknowledge that we knew the person and that we care about those left behind. We do this in the hope that those who have lost family members, for whatever reason, during this awful time, will take some comfort in knowing that we care.

When this crisis is over, as it surely must be one day, we need to look back and not focus on those who broke the rules, had parties in their gardens and friends round for tea. We need to focus on what is truly good about our estate, because at the heart of our community, there is surely more good than bad.


This post was written by Catherine Gill

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