Many have suffered loss in the time of COVID. The isolation of such loss is another symptom of this pandemic.
I told myself I wouldn’t write about COVID this month. It’s been too much this year, despite it being the reality. I’ve been trying to focus on the bright side, making lemonade out of the lemons we’ve been dealt this year.
But on October 19, my grandmother passed away. I wasn’t able to attend her funeral. In fact, I hadn’t seen her since June 2019. She lived her entire life in Ohio, the Cleveland area; therefore, attending her service would require travel, either solo or any combination with kids and spouse. I could have done the 8-hour drive with my almost 6-month old or hopped on a 90-minute flight, but the COVID cases in both Missouri and Ohio seem to be on the rise again. I work full time and rely on daycare to continue my full-time employment. Traveling wouldn’t have been the right choice for the health and safety of my family and others we rely on to sustain our daily life.
Of course, under normal circumstances, we would’ve packed up the car, young children, stuffed it full of necessities, and made that 8-hour drive to celebrate the very full 94 years my grandmother lived. Instead, COVID kept the service small and distant, only attended by my grandmother’s four children and two of her eight grandchildren.
That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Not to say my strong-willed and fiercely independent grandmother wanted any sort of fanfare on her way to her final resting place, but the fact that her assisted living facility had been on lockdown since March also meant no one had physically visited in seven months. Perhaps the gut-wrenching silver lining is that her worsening dementia kept her from knowing the extent of what was happening in the outside world.
This is 2020. I’m never one to hop on the “worst year ever” bandwagons because nothing productive comes from that mindset, but this is just one of the realities of our world right now. Gathering to celebrate, grieve, and heal from the loss of a loved one isn’t healthy or safe for those of us left on earth to carry on her legacy. I know my grandmother would want us to all prioritize our health and safety, but this is not how it was supposed to be.
Life will continue, and our memories will keep our hearts full when we remember. So many families have made hard choices this year. As colder months and holidays are upon us, more decisions will be made on how to celebrate and gather. I don’t have the right answers or even good ones to keep navigating this, but I’m hopeful for kindness and understanding when making decisions that work best for the needs of each family or individual.
Let’s make those who are no longer with us on earth proud as we look for the light at the end of the COVID tunnel. I’m certain our loved ones are looking over us, looking forward to the day when we can continue to carry on their legacies together.