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‘Her absence speaks volumes’: Family’s first Christmas without wife and mother lost on pandemic’s frontline


en Sazuze will be spending Christmas with his two children this year, but it will not be celebrations as usual. Instead, he says, they may play a few games, do prayers over Zoom, and visit his late wife’s grave.

It is the family’s first year without Elsie Sazuze: wife, a mother-of-two and care home nurse who died in April after contracting coronavirus.

“For us, it is not Christmas,” Ken Sazuze tells The Independent

“It is impossible to celebrate it. It’s feeling weird,” the 45-year-old from Birmingham says. “Even the house, it doesn’t feel like a home anymore. It just feels like a house.”

He adds: “Her absence speaks volumes.”

The 44-year-old loved her job as a care home worker, her husband says, as she “loved looking after people”.

Elsie fell ill with coronavirus symptoms towards the end of March, not long after England’s first lockdown over the virus was announced. 

The 44-year-old was taken into hospital after struggling to breathe one night, and was transferred to intensive care shortly afterwards, telling Ken to look after the children – 22-year-old Andrew and 16-year-old Anna – if she didn’t make it home. 

“That blew my mind,” Ken recalls. He told her “not to speak like that”, but she reassured him it was just in case. 

“That was the last conversation we ever had,” Ken says. Elsie died a few days later. 

“That was just within a week, [from] working to losing her life.”

Elsie Sazuze died earlier this year after contracting coronavirus

(Ken Sazuze)

Since then, he says the family have been “struggling”, with him also out of work at the moment. 

The charity has launched a new Family Fund just ahead of Christmas, dedicated to supporting families of NHS staff who have died from Covid-19.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there have been 620 health and care home workers deaths involving Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic up until July.

Ken Sazuze with his daughter Anna and son Andrew

(Ken Sazuze )

Like the Sazuzes, their families are facing the first Christmas without their loved one. 

Ken says they do not feel able to celebrate the holiday as usual this year, after Elsie’s loss. “In our house at the moment, being the first Christmas without her, it don’t feel normal,” he adds.

“It’s something we need, as the world needs more kindess.”