Saying Goodbye in the Time of COVID-19

galleries-d36161d68e9df5217a9c55eec6e7ac08-14564867839Life as we knew it has been upended by COVID-19. As I’ve thought and pondered a lot on the changes we see and the potential changes ahead, I see that there could be some very good results that come from this, as well as some very bad ones.

I scan the news headlines a couple of times a day, and then I leave it alone. A steady diet of all the confusion, the outright wrong information (often from the government), and all the unknowns (and there are a lot) about COVID-19 can result in feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed. I don’t want that for myself.

If we look at this a positive perspective, it’s an opportunity for a reset in our personal lives.

We have the opportunity to pray more, meditate more (get out and take a walk in the neighborhood and wave and smile at those neighbors you’ve never met), to study God’s word more (and come into a much deeper, more intimate relationship with God and Jesus Christ).

We also have the opportunity to read more and to do creative things or hobbies that we may have neglected for years because we were too busy running here and there. I suspect that we’re moving from a global perspective back to a local perspective, where we help and serve those around us in meaningful ways.

It has been a mystery to me for the past 15 years or so, with all the technology we have to do things remotely – from our homes (without hours of commuting to and from work) – why companies that could are still building brick and mortar facilities (a lot of overhead, whether you own or rent) instead of investing money in supporting employees to work from home.

It’s never made practical or financial sense to me since you have everything you need to work in a team environment except being in the same room with each other (this is the argument you’ll hear from people who are opposed, but the team technology is fully in place to give you that full benefit and feel, so it doesn’t wash with me).

Now, however, that so many are working remotely, I suspect we’ll see a massive change in business models in many companies and organizations.

I also think we’ll see a change in the food industry. Delivery services like GrubHub and PostMates will be phased out as local restaurants change to a take-out/delivery model and use their own employees (waitstaff, etc.) to do deliveries to keep them employed. There are so many ways to make this work favorably at the local level, but we have to have the ability to see and act so differently from the way things have always been done.

The businesses and organizations that can think outside the box and adapt will survive. Those who insist on doing things the way they’ve always done it will not.

The funeral industry – and those of us who are mourning and grieving the loss of loved ones – is also having to change and adapt as social distancing limits are imposed, putting traditional funeral and memorial services on hold indefinitely because of COVID-19.

My twin sister, Deb, died on February 29. We had, with some difficulty because of too many people who weren’t on the same page initially, finally scheduled Deb’s memorial service to be held on March 21. As the number of people who could gather dwindled to 10 early last week, we made the decision to postpone Deb’s “real” memorial service indefinitely.

It was the right thing to do. It was the responsible thing to do. But it was hard, because memorial services fulfill two purposes: honoring and paying tribute to the person who died and providing support and comfort to their grieving family members.

But memorial services also are a tangible part of closure and starting to move forward through the grieving process. Not being able to do that is perhaps the hardest thing families are now having to face.

So, we decided to go ahead a do a personal and private memorial service at home for Deb on March 21, since that was our original date (we will still have the full memorial service at some point, God willing). The minister who was going to do the service came to the house as did a few friends. We sent out messages to those who wanted to attend virtually that we’d Skype the service so they could be a part of it.

Our next-door neighbors, who own a Mexican restaurant, unexpectedly brought a lot of food over the day before so we had a feast to feed the people who were able to attend here, so that was a blessing we didn’t anticipate.

As different as the personal and virtual service was, it fulfilled the purposes of a memorial service because even those who attended virtually were able to participate, and there was a sense of closure.

deb beach grief COVID-19Of course, grief is still settling in. Everyone grieves differently. I had anticipatory grief for Deb before she died, but since she has died, a different kind of grief has come.

Music, I’ve found, is a real trigger for my emotions. My grief, mostly, is internal, deep, hard to put into words, but profoundly affecting me, more in thinking than in actions.

My grief will change over time, although there won’t be a day I don’t miss Deb.

But my love for her will never change and her memory is something I will hold close until my last breath.

Until the breath after that, Deb, I love you and I will miss you. Rest well until then.




2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye in the Time of COVID-19

  1. Pingback: Saying Goodbye in the Time of COVID-19 — Going Gentle Into That Good Night – It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

  2. My favorite observation: “I suspect that we’re moving from a global perspective back to a local perspective, where we help and serve those around us in meaningful ways.” Beautifully said.

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