What happens when you can’t say goodbye? What do you do when that inevitable farewell, death and funeral take place in such an unthinkable manner? The coronavirus pandemic has damaged our ability to envision the future and weakened our capacity to prepare for it. It is changing our death rituals too.
Seniors in Solitude is a photographic deep dive into nursing homes in Catalonia at the height of the pandemic that killed over 32,000 people in Spain, one of the world's hardest hit by the novel coronavirus. Two thirds of these deaths have occurred amongst the elderly: more than 20,000 seniors have died solitary deaths without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones.
This story take us into nursing homes during the months of March, April and May, when supplies in personal protection equipment were dwindling and misinformation and fear dominated everything. It includes the stories of Marita, whose mother died alone on Easter Sunday and that of Julia, the director of a nursing home that lost twelve of its twenty-seven residents in the space of a month.
These photographs aim to offer a rare look into the closed world of nursing homes and the emotions experienced during the worst weeks of the confinement by some of society’s most vulnerable: fear, loneliness, isolation, sadness.
They do so, respecting the privacy of that group that lived through a civil war and the post-war hardships, the Franco regime, the transition to democracy, the arrival of the new century and, now, a pandemic.
This story was carried out accompanying emergency teams from the NGO Open Arms and it was published in Revista 5W text by Maribel Izcue