Chaplain’s Message – April 12, 2020 – THE SADNESS OF DYING ALONE
As a clergy person, I have officiated at many, too many funerals. Along with friends and family, I give consolation and support to those who have suffered the death of a loved one. Whatever the cause, whatever the age, there is almost always sadness and pain… and the feeling of our own mortality and eventual passing as well.
In this time of pandemic, with tens of thousands of deaths, the sadness is multiplied many-fold by the fact that the community cannot be there, except virtually, to support the mourners. We have probably all read death notices re funerals being private (maximum of 10 attendees) and there is no community visitation. The best that can be hoped for is a “celebration of life” gathering at some future date.
It is so easy to get lost in the statistics we hear/read in the news…. and not remember that behind every projection and press conference with death counts… is a person with a family, with friends, with co-workers. As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal discussed, whenever society returns to “normalcy,” it will be a new normalcy. Repressed grief will continue long after society restarts. Can there be a “silver lining” to all this? It appears that, in this time of grief, we are looking out for each other, caring for each other more than ever before. There is a greater sense of societal togetherness.
A famous rabbi, centuries ago, wrote a phrase that resonates especially at this difficult time. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov wrote, “All the world is a narrow bridge… and the most important thing is not to be afraid.” We are all now on this narrow bridge together… and we become the least afraid when we support and console each other.
Blessings and prayers for strength at this holy season and beyond.
Chaplain Gary Atkins