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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Massad

In These Unprecedented Times Of COVID-19, We Witness The Whole World Grieving, Together

In These Unprecedented Times Of COVID-19, We Witness The Whole World Grieving, Together

By Cynthia Corriveau, Belvedere Cemetery and Funeral Complex

As the manager of Belvedere’s Cemetery and Funeral Complex, I’ve been asked to share my thoughts on the grieving process amidst Covid-19. In moments like these, fear is our worst enemy. It brings out the worst in people; makes good people do "bad’’ or unreasonable things that they wouldn’t normally do. We’ve all seen it. And it reminded me of death and grieving; how different people, in the face of the biggest unknown, great pain and suffering, will all get through it in different ways. Some brothers and sisters will turn on each other, while we also see many rallying together when facing loss. Thankfully, I’ve seen much more people getting creative, generous, caring. I see how we’ve been going through our days just a few weeks ago glued to our phones or computers, almost ignoring each other; and now that these screens are all we have to reach out, we are starting to crave the human connection, the human touch, like we haven’t before. That too, reminds me of what death does….when we lose someone and we are reminded of all these things that we loved to do with them. How, when someone dies, there’s a sudden pause in a family, where everything else cease to matter, where only the most basics and necessary counts….love, relationships, support. I feel right now that the whole world is grieving, at the same time. We have some brothers and sisters judging on each other and pointing fingers…..there will always be 😉 But mostly we have an immense wave of kindness, care, loving energy and support going all around the globe; and in a moment of fear and darkness, that is where I want to focus…towards the light. And when this is all over, because it will be, we will join and celebrate and be together again, of that I am sure….when this is all over, let’s not forget the lesson, the basics. We’ve been shown how everything can change in a day; it is so clear and obvious to all of us now. So if you love someone, tell them now, tell them today. Say it often and say it loud. And those you can hug, do it. As even these simple touches we took for granted are a luxury today.

As funeral directors, we truly believe in the power of community support, families getting together. We understand how a few hours of visitation, allowing friends, relatives and coworkers to come and offer their condolences to the family are important. How sometimes no words but a simple hug, a handshake, says it all. We know that taking a moment to celebrate the life of a loved one who died, in a room full of people there to show their support, and reminiscing with pictures and stories and spiritual guidance has the power to bring so much peace to the ones left behind. We have witnessed how a reception; welcoming friends, gathering around food is symbolic of life that must continue…..different for sure……but the living must keep on living.

In the midst of all this, a situation so fluid that even our own preventive measures are changing almost daily, our main concern is of course the health of your families, and ours. But there’s a question that keeps haunting us : how do we support and offer our people what they need most when what we know to be helpful is now placing too many at risk? There is no perfect answer. As we can postpone a funeral service, of course. But grief doesn’t take a pause. Families who will be losing a loved one now will have to grieve alone….at least for a while.

To get back to my original question of what should I write, I want to offer you my suggestions on what you can do if someone you love loses someone they love. We are all lost when it happens, we don’t know what to do or say. But there are some form of social conventions that used to apply (go to the funeral, visit at home, give a hug) that just don’t work at the moment.

  • Instead, keep in touch, from a distance, often. That means calling, text messages and emails, Facebook. We have the technology so let’s use it. Isolation is hard; even worst when you’re sad.

  • Share memories of the deceased, nice stories, things that remind you of them, pictures, events, how your friend shares the same qualities or quirks, eyes or smile.

  • You can do your own mini private celebration. It can be as simple as lighting a candle; pray/meditate/give thanks for a few minutes.

  • Play a favorite song. Send it, sing it.

  • And share what you did with your grieving friend. They will appreciate it all.

  • You could send them a card or a plant.

  • Maybe send a coupon for a meal delivery so they don’t have to cook or try to think about going out and shop.

  • Why not offer them to hang out and chat…, via Skype or Zoom or google hangout, facetime or Whatsapp. Make it a date, grab a coffee and sit on the couch….listen. Often times we feel paralyzed because we don’t know what to say but the thing is, you don’t have to say anything, just be there and listen. I promise this is good, and it’s enough, to just be there. A hand on your heart and your eyes will say it all.

As for us, evolving and changing constantly, you can find the measures we have in place on our Facebook page and on our website . If you are worried, have questions or concerns, give us a call, send us an email, we are here to help. Every single one of us. I don’t know one person in funeral service that took the job for any reason other than that they care deeply about people. So don’t be shy, reach out, we are here. Be well, be kind, choose love…it’s always the right answer. #itsgonnabeok

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