Grief in a Covid-19 pandemic
It is stating the obvious to say that Covid has changed the way we do many things. Learning from home, working from home, shopping from home, church at home.
Grieving at home.
Recently, we experienced the 12 month anniversary of the death of a close family member. The past year has been weird enough with being in and out of lockdowns, but grief adds a layer of complexity that we could do without.
I had seen grief during the pandemic from a professional point of view. I had been privileged enough to conduct funerals for families when restrictions only allowed 10 or 20 people to attend. This was tricky for the family as they had to work out who to 'invite' to the funeral. Who gets to attend? Who misses out? Watching a funeral via video is not the best way to attend, but it had to do.
Before conducting a funeral early on in the 2020 lockdown period, I was speaking with the Funeral Director. He was sharing that the nature of funerals had changed during lockdown. They had become more personal, more intimate. Normally, a big part of the funeral is the telling of the person's story. When larger groups of people attend a funeral, they are usually from separate parts of the person's life - service clubs, bowls, church, music, the footy club etc - and so the telling of the whole story is important so you get a fuller picture of who they were. But with only 10 or 20 people allowed, this reduced the need to do this, as most people knew the deceased person well. So the stories shared became more about who they were, not what they did.
And so it was with the funeral our loved one in 2020.
Only 10 people could attend. Those who were invited were honoured to be there. Those who had to stay home fully understood. We did choose the live stream option so family and friends could view it online live or later. The service was beautifully led by our minister who made it a time of joy and hope. We were able to share stories and experiences and what we learnt from having them in our lives. Those we spoke to in the weeks after the funeral who watched it told us of how moving it was. If a funeral can be 'good', then this was a good one.
In the year since, by being at home more often, we have had a constant, daily, immersive reminder of the loss of this person from our lives. Their presence around the house. Seeing their smile, hearing their music. In the lead up to the anniversary, some folks said to us they couldn't believe it was a year already. Neither could we. Covid has been a massive distraction and disruption in everyone's life that it flavours everything we do. In some ways, it's meant everyone in society is dealing with a sense of grief and loss. It has allowed our experience of grief to be disguised.
It's no less real though.
Each month or so, members of the Chaplaincy team will share something to make you ponder.
Author - Sept 2021
This month, Chaplain Coordinator Andrew Shearer-Cox kicks off the Chaplain's Log. Andrew writes about a close experience of grief while living through Covid times in 2020 & 2021.