Social Distancing Week 31…Mourning In A Pandemic

Friday, October 16, 2020…2:25pm

The end of week 31. I attended my first Memorial Service via Zoom this morning. It’s an experience I hope to never have again.

The service was for one of the dearest and most genuine men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was a hospital chaplain who was attached to our congregation as his home church. Grace, love, and light radiated from him as he moved through the world – even in recent years as he battled a debilitating and painful health condition. He did not die from COVID-19. He died from complications of a procedure related to his health conditions, but death in this pandemic time is complicated for the community who are left behind regardless of the cause of death.

The “pieces” of a memorial service were all there – officiated by his sister-in-law who is a pastor with remembrances and prayers from a sister, a chaplain colleague, and a pastor who was a decades long family friend. But because of COVID restrictions, there were only 10 people in the chapel – with dozens more on Zoom. I was “with” all of the other people, and my teens were in the house doing online school, but I felt deeply isolated. Mourning may be solitary, but a celebration of life needs community. Zoom did not fill the need of community for me today.

I realize that this is an experience happening multiple times per day all around the globe. I also recognize the intent and necessity behind the restrictions limiting the number of people gathered in the physical location of the service, and in this case I feel confident that the man we celebrated today would have wanted us to do everything we could to keep ourselves, each other, and the larger community healthy and safe. I have to think that this would be the case for most people who have died during this strange time – it seems that nobody would want their funeral or memorial service to cause more illness or even death.

So we Zoom. I hated every second of it, and I hope to never have that experience again. But I would do it again, knowing other lives were kept from any harm.

Be well my friends.

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