Our lives changed almost overnight with the first reports of COVID-19 in Australia.

The physical closeness that bonded our families, our communities, our achievements, is no longer possible.

Amongst our greatest challenges has been the prohibition of gatherings to mark milestones in our lives: births, birthdays, graduations, marriages and even funerals. The simple act of hugging someone, holding a hand or an arm around a shoulder, is no longer possible.

And the more public moments for reflection and remembrance are also interrupted: Easter, Anzac Day, May Day, International Museum Day - and many more to come. Days of special significance for communities of belief, such as Christians, Muslims and Jews, are being commemorated in new, physically-distant, ways.

Anzac Day 2020 will never be forgotten. For the first time since the first Anzac Day commemoration in 1916, people could not gather together. Instead, they stood in home driveways, held candles and poppies, displayed their own family photographs, remembering and reflecting privately on the lives lost and the tragedy of war.

The restriction of physical gatherings for funerals has been particularly hard. Only 10 mourners could gather (lifted to 20 from 13 May) with others watching remotely, enduring their loss alone.

Our need for connection, and the sharing of joys as well as sorrows, is strong. The happiest moments of pandemic isolation have come from birthday parties in front gardens, shouts of joy and laughter from loved ones in the street and kisses sent through glass windows to grandparents.

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