The pandemic changed everything about life, and death, in the last year. Amid the chaos and quarantine, people across the nation were unable to honor their loved ones at traditional funerals.
A recent Wall Street Journal article by Clare Ansberry on the importance of holding memorials, even if delayed, prompted readers to share their own stories about the extended mourning process brought on by the pandemic.
Here are edited excerpts of their comments.
While I was able to officiate at two Memorial services during Covid, nine more remain, the first of which was Saturday. The father, Louie, has grieved for his 52-year-old daughter, Jennifer, for almost a year now. Saturday morning we celebrated her life and placed her ashes in a resting place with her mother and other family members who have gone before her. Your article touched on all the reasons Saturday was so important to Louie and the family. Thank you.
—Rev. Dr. Louis Prues,
St. Clair Shores, Mich.
The story really hit home for me as we have delayed anything for my brother, Stephen Hauser, who died as the result of glioblastoma the day after Christmas. We are planning to do a small family gathering in the fall on Martha’s Vineyard, where he loved going on vacation and where he asked us more than a year ago to take his ashes. We were lucky as we had months to spend time with him and say goodbye without saying it. So many other people have not had that gift, as you well know. I really liked your piece and am sure it hit home for others as well.
Willoughby Hills, Ohio
My mother-in-law passed away in late February 2020 (not related to Covid). We had originally planned on having a small memorial for her in summer 2020, but that proved to be hard to commit to with everything that was happening as a result of the pandemic. We decided to postpone everything to this year. We are now hosting a small backyard get-together with immediate family and a handful of close friends for the July 4th weekend. We plan on looking through old photo albums, remembering old times and laughing together. Very informal, but something that will be nice to do in light of everything we’ve all been through over the last year and a half.
I wonder how Covid is going to change long-standing cultural norms like formal weddings and funerals. It seems like a lot of unnecessary pomp and circumstance has been built up around these events over the years. I think we’re going to see younger people continue to move towards more informal and simple events rather than having expensive, formal events. When it comes to funerals especially, it should be more about remembering the person and their life rather than the setting or event itself.
In the end, it’s about getting together to remember loved ones and celebrating their lives.
My wife of 34 years died in February of 2020, and the original celebration had to be postponed twice due to Covid. With vaccines rolling out and people willing to travel, we decided to have the service the day before Mothers Day, and I’m glad we waited. While we had some family and friends who still couldn’t travel, we had over 100 people gather to celebrate and honor a great life. All of those who attended agreed that the 15-month gap between her death and the gathering provided some valuable perspective. Additionally, we all felt that the opportunity to gather in person to share memories and comfort one another was worth the wait.
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