Mourning Six Feet Apart
“The wound is the place where the light enters you“ – Rumi
If you have quarantine fatigue, welcome to the club. Spring has always been my least favorite season and this pandemic only confirms it. Our new normal even affects the healing process. While death will become all of us, this outbreak has altered the way in which we say goodbye to our loved ones.
In 2010, I wrote a piece for Huffington Post on the etiquette of funerals, but a lot has changed since then. When the shelter-in-place order began, one of my first thoughts was I hope a family member doesn’t pass during this period. While it hasn’t happened to me, death has come to a member of my volunteer family. The deceased’s wife Liz had this to say on the passing of her husband Al: “My husband passed away last week after a long battle with lung cancer. While this was not unexpected, I miss him terribly. The really sad part of this shelter-in-place situation is not being able to hold his Memorial service, not being able to have my friends over to my house, not being able to meet friends in a restaurant, and not being able to donate his clothes at this time when many people are in need.” Closure marks an important transition in life and is an important part of the healing process.
A Year Of Firsts
Fundraisers have been postponed. Graduations and Mother’s day are cancelled. But can we do the same for funerals? Covid-19 has forced families to put their grieving process on hold at a time when we’re supposed to provide support and assistance to them.
How To Honor The Deceased
- Reach Out To The Family Of The Deceased. Try the old-fashioned way: by a telephone call.
- Ask How You Can Help. Whether it be offering up food or making calls on behalf of the family, doing something is always better.
- Offer Up A Prayer. If you have a favorite one, the words might be comforting to the family.
- Write A Condolence Note. A few short sentences offering sympathy is a good start, and always something positive about the deceased.
- Share Video Memories. I can’t think of a better gift than sharing treasured memories. I have many from when my own mother passed, and I treasure them 17 years later.
- Offer To Help Plan A Memorial Service. It may be months from now but planning is stressful and time consuming. Help take a load off.
For the time being (I’ve been saying this since March), we must live as one, or as one newspaper put it “Together, Apart.” Services will happen in the future, but with distance, and maybe even without hugs.
Alan E. Loebel passed away peacefully on April 23, 2020