A while back a family friend passed away from COVID. I grew up with his younger brother and sisters, my brothers were good friends of his, our parents were friends, my parents saw this person probably every other week, etc. Growing up in a small town, these kinds of connections happen regularly.
My Mom called me after the visitation. Because of COVID, the service was held in a very different fashion. I have grown up in the typical style where the deceased are laid out at a funeral home or the church and everyone who knew them, or the family, go in person to pay their respects. Flowers, pictures, people by the 100’s come and grieve and love on the people left behind by the clutch of death.
Due to personal stuff I was not able to go to the visitation.
“Have you ever been to a drive-by wake (visitation)?” asks my Mom when I talk to her later that evening.
“No, what did you do?”
“We just drove through,” she said.
“Like you’re picking up a burger and fries kind of drive through?” I asked.
We were both silent for a few seconds. I finally broke the pause with a question.
“So, how did that feel?”
Silence again, “horrible”. “We didn’t even get to see his wife and kids but through the glass door when we drove through. No hugs, no “I’m so sorry for your loss, I mean, I called her but…it’s not the same.” Indeed it is not.
We had a conversation about grief, and support and what it means to have people show up. We had a conversation about touch and hugs, and how do you find words to convey your sympathy for someone when so often we have just relied on a hug to say what we don’t have words for.
It’s weird, the things this pandemic is shifting for all of us.
In many ways it is forcing us to be better versions of ourselves in how we show up for others. While it’s challenging to not be able to take someone and hold them in sorrow, it is important for us to show up, somehow. Maybe it’s a phone call, maybe it’s sending flowers or dinner to the home. Maybe it’s a card in the mail a couple weeks later when all the hubbub has died down and reality sets in.
I know many of us just want things back to “normal” and so do I, but in the meantime, it’s still important to show up in whatever way we can for those we care about. It is not for someone else to do, it is for each of us. Lend support, give a hand, be you with more intention.
Grief is hard. Grieving alone is harder.
While it’s challenging to find new ways to say, “I care”, I believe we are up for the challenge.