COVID 19 Grief, Loss and the Church’s response to it
COVID 19 Grief, Loss and the Church’s response to it
It is most difficult to take time to think through what this course in our lives has been like. Not only has the disease impacted many physically, but also has taken a toll on all, emotionally, socially and spiritually. There has not been that many times in our lives we’ve encountered such an uncertainty of what life could be or not be from day to day.
For many of us we’ve had to do a complete 360 degree turn around, completely halted to reassess our own situations due to age, due to the age of our congregations, even to the suitability of our building spaces, whether to continue to accommodate a worship service of any kind for whatever number were allowed.
Many of us found ourselves not being able to carry out the normal routine of worship, visitations to the shut-ins, sick or the bereaved. We had to always be conscientiously mindful of making sure our neighbour was safe and at a safe distance from contact with others that were not of their own bubble.
The places where we felt the most grief was when families’ loved ones were sick and dying. We are grateful of close family members who were able to minister to them at times like this when the ordained could not be present, and the usual practices of our community pulling together in support, was not available. It seems so long ago, that our communities have come physically together and stood with those saying their final respects to loved ones.
As ordained persons, we come in, only for about an hour to do a funeral, outdoors most of the time during the warm months with limited number of attendees. Now that it is colder, in a building with even smaller family circles than the outdoor services. The people you know, the person you knew, your grief feels new as you watch the family say their goodbyes, for a little while, and you thank the Father of All for being your guide to serve these people.
Though they minister to you even in their grief, you also are expected to give words of comfort as they move from this. What did Paul say in 1st. Corinthians 15:10…”But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain.” Without His Grace, I know in my heart I would not be able to bury dear Elders, dear friends, dear mentors, young men and women, let alone babies.
The grief, that this pandemic has caused is not just in the passing of loved ones but also the division of families being separated from each other. Families saying goodbye to a loved one, who is going for surgery, now has COVID, they cannot visit. Those who die, never to be seen again, not even their ashes. God be glorified, there were those who pulled through.
The emotional griefs have taken some into loneliness, depression and some to a different end, and those with incurables diseases could not be comforted by many of their family members.
One of the saddest of these in our area, is the mother before she could see her dying son from cancer, had to be quarantined first because she came from elsewhere. A couple weeks later we buried the son. There are those relatives who lived in different communities, who passed on, whose funerals we could not attend.
In fact, in our own communities, if they happen to be in a different denomination, though they were family, we can not attend or visit their immediate family because of the precautions we must adhere to.
During this time, love of neighbour has been the main goal to stop the spread of this virus, and to that end, many made sacrifices to safe distance from and with each other. None more so than the frontline workers in our communities, public health, fire departments, police departments, medical professionals and others who sacrificially laid their lives on the line to keep us well, and protected.
First Nations Pandemic Teams, Health Canada, Provinces and Churches had to enforce precautionary guidelines and stipulations to give the communities a fighting chance to recover and not further spread the coronavirus from being uncontrollable in our communities.
Our first gratitude falls to our Creator/God who continues to watch over us and care for us, carrying us through this life and if it is one’s time to leave, to eternity.
Beautiful Life, how wonderfully has remained to be with us, new births with brand new babies, new spiritual births, even when many have been broken and weakened through this time and space of our experience with COVID-19. Our Archbishops, Bishops, and priests across this country and world have held services of prayer and continued ministry to those who could attend virtually. Many in our communities, hold vigils, prayer and meditation moments in small groups or alone, and many more have whispered a prayer of gratitude for everyone.
I was thinking of when ice breaks up, broken into pieces, and piled high along the shores remains as ice for a moment; then melts into the water to join the whole again. I believe God/our Creator’s repair is like that. He doesn’t leave us as broken ice, He makes sure we join the actual Living Water we can touch and feel, refreshing us. This Living Water is also like the Son our Creator has so generously given us to save us and keep us through this world and completely make us new and whole into the next.
This pandemic, though it has taken many in its path, has also brought us a new way of knowing one another, caring for one another, living and sharing of what our Creator wants for us; first of all, to give Him honour of love for Him, for lives, to love our neighbour as we love ourselves because this earth is given for all of us to share as His human race.
The Rev. Grace Delaney
Deacon Incumbent Moosonee and Moose Factory
James Bay Deanery
Diocese of Moosonee