I understand social distancing is essential to keeping everyone safe but what we don’t yet know is the broader impact. Coronavirus is changing us in ways we can’t imagine.
On the day of my dad’s funeral, our sad congregation of 10 people gathered (a mere fraction of the people who knew and loved my father). After the service, in line with tradition, we each approached Dad’s coffin to bless him with holy water – a very sad, poignant moment of reality and grief. I was understandably upset.
I couldn’t believe it. This was our final farewell and it was ruined. At that moment, a woman I had only met for the first time that day, was intruding on an incredibly intimate and private moment, a defining moment in my life and one I can never, ever get back. It felt wrong. It felt unjust. I couldn’t stay silent.
With my heart in my throat, I said, “now is not the time.”
The staff member retorted sternly with zero emotion or empathy, “it’s the law”.
A not-so-gentle reminder of the world we now live in.
I was with my family unit and we had been in social isolation together in my dad’s dying days. Despite this, my family and I were left strung out on the street, metres apart, adhering to social distancing laws; together but alone.
That night, I lay in bed, not reflecting on my beautiful father and the endless love and opportunities he had given me. Instead, etched in my brain was that unthinkable moment at the funeral. It was traumatic and distressing.
There was no loving touch from a family member and no warmth of a single hug. It was hard. Incredibly hard. But it was our reality.
I know we are not alone. Hundreds of families across the globe are left to grieve in this new world. Each and every one of us is making daily sacrifices and compromises. Dozens of my family stayed home.
There is some comfort and solidarity knowing we were joined ‘virtually’ by hundreds of family and friends, who streamed the funeral service online. But no matter what, it was not the same.
Funerals bring people together to reflect on the life of a loved one, and while religion and cultural traditions differ from family to family, we all respect these solemn moments.
Sometimes a small conversation at a funeral or wake with a former work colleague or acquaintance can give you a different and richer view on the life and legacy of the loved one.
And while technology has been quick to try and adapt to the new regulations, live streaming can’t always recreate a space where you can come together – to embrace each other, to cry and share stories.
My family has not lost anyone to COVID-19. We are lucky and we’re aware, through it all, sadly, that there is more death to come.
We are all now physically distant but trying our best to be socially connected and keep it together while apart.
And when we can finally all be together, I am sure there will still be some tears but hopefully some laughter too – sharing the pain of losing a true gentleman while remembering the qualities of my dad – his joy, generosity, and loyalty.
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