Mourning in Place

Earlier this week, someone in my community messaged me to tell me about a sick family member. 

I’ve been expecting this for a while. 

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise, it was not surprising to hear from someone in my circle who would be affected by this. 

This individual was contacting me on behalf of a family member who resides in a different country. The resources there are limited and the age of the person who had contracted the virus, along with the limited resources available, led medical professionals to give only one instruction. 

They were being released to die at home. 

They passed away this morning. This particular country has asked for bodies of those who have passed from the virus to be buried, or cremated within a twelve hour period. 

There is no time for funerals or vigils. 

Isolation and distancing orders make it impossible to mourn in person. Family members who live in other countries are not able to visit, either when sick, or passing. Pastors, if available, are asked to come say a quick prayer and then leave because of restrictions. 

Although I have braced myself for this as a pastor, I had not expected it to come on the eve of remembering my husband’s death five years ago tomorrow. The news struck me harder than I had imagined it would. 

Yet, I knew I had been called to provide a sacred space for them. 

This afternoon I wept. I pulled out my liturgy books and contacted a close colleague friend of mine for ideas. We collaborated and wrote a memorial service to be done virtually. We wrote it together for those who cannot be together. 

It is not perfect, but it is written with love and we wanted to share it with you. 

We pray you will not need it.  

Here is an excerpt:

There have been studies that show that no matter how often you dilute water, the water retains a “memory” of the substances that were in the water before it was diluted. 

I think of this and wonder, if my ancestors touched this water, is the water I use today also, in a way, touching them?

Latin culture knows how to remember our ancestors.

But sometimes, when we are deep in our grief, we find it hard. 

Let us rely on the water to remember the lives of those who have gone before us. Let us rely on the water to nourish us, to sustain us, to carry our memories forward. 

*If you would like a Spanish version, I can email a copy to you directly. You can contact me at https://revhazel.wordpress.com/contact/.

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