Coronavirus: Quiz night at The Widows’ Arms 'lifts isolation'

Tadhg Lydon and wife Jess Image copyright Contributed
Image caption Tadhg Lydon's wife Jess died in December 2018, aged 34

A group of widows and widowers have come together for a weekly virtual pub quiz during the coronavirus lockdown to lift "that feeling of isolation".

The quiz is hosted by Tadhg Lydon, whose wife Jess died aged 34 in December 2018 from cancer.

Mr Lydon, from Bedfordshire, said the lockdown compounded the sense of isolation felt when widowed.

One member who has taken part in the quiz said: "It just feels like you've had contact with the outside world."

Software developer Mr Lydon, 36, from Westoning, is a volunteer area contact for the charity Widowed and Young (WAY), which supports those aged 50 or under who have lost a partner.

The charity's meetings have been forced to move online because of the restrictions on gatherings during the pandemic and Mr Lydon soon began to organise a quiz at the virtual pub, The Widows' Arms, via the video conferencing service Zoom.

Image copyright WAY
Image caption Up to 60 people have attended the virtual pub quiz during lockdown

Mr Lydon, who has young twins and has had support from friends and family during lockdown, said: "You kind of feel a little bit isolated already, going through the widowing process, and the lockdown compounds it.

"Before it might be difficult to go out to meet people - it's now impossible effectively."

One of the regulars has been Sue Thomas, from near Reading, who lost her husband Chris to bowel cancer in July 2018.

The mother-of-two said part of the current situation was "imagining what it would be like if we were in lockdown with our person".

She said: "I think it exacerbates the loneliness. We feel lonely quite a lot of the time anyway but I think during the lockdown, certainly for me, it's kind of put a real focus on that loneliness."

Image copyright Sue Thomas
Image caption Sue Thomas with her husband Chris

Mrs Thomas said that because of the quiz "although you know you haven't physically seen people you do feel like you have, you feel like you've actually had a conversation with other adults [that's] not work-related, not kid-related".

"It just feels like you've had contact with the outside world - it's definitely lifted that feeling of isolation."

The 47-year-old added: "We don't sit around talking about our losses and our grief all the time, but if one of us is having a bit of a struggle you can talk about it without worrying that you're going to bring somebody else down or that you're being a burden."

Vicky Anning, from WAY, said members had "been rallying around each other - offering help, advice and support to help each other get through these really challenging times".

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