Safiah Ngah (29) lost her dad, Dr Zahari Awang Ngah, to Covid-19 in February 2021. He was only 68 years old. A psychotherapist, Dr Ngah had worked in the NHS for nearly 40 years. He was a Malaysian national who settled and raised his family in North London. Here, Safiah shares her story about coping with grief during the pandemic.
“Dad was a very considered person,” Safiah tells GLAMOUR. “He was quiet. If you told him about a problem you had, he would say, ‘Okay’, and go away and think about it. Then he'd come back, maybe a couple of hours later, with this nugget of wisdom.
"I always knew he'd really thought about it and put his feet in my shoes. He so wanted the best for me, my brother and my mum. He cared deeply about us.”
Dr Ngah was a caring man. He treated refugees and asylum seekers in his spare time, and after he retired, he started a project to improve access to psychotherapy in Malaysia, Southeast Asia and India.
“He loved his work,” Safiah says. “He was so passionate about what he did. “He felt that it was important that people from all areas of society have access to mental healthcare, the best possible."
He was still working on this project the week before he was taken to the hospital.
“As a Malaysian national, he gave so much to this country, and I feel like the government has failed him, as it has many people,” Safiah says. “I'm deeply, deeply sorry and regretful that I couldn't be with him. It adds insult to unimaginable injury when you consider what the government has been doing during those lockdowns.”
Safiah is, of course, referring to the widespread public outrage following revelations that government staff, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, attended a garden party at the height of lockdown – while members of the public were obeying the rules and making enormous sacrifices.