Grief in the Time of Covid-19

Posted by fiesty76 @fiesty76, Jun 26, 2020

My closest friend of decades died Tuesday but today is just like Tuesday last week or any other Tuesday two months ago for me.

She’d been comatose and unresponsive for over a week. I’d been praying for days for mercy from her pain and discomfort and that she would be surrounded and touched by loving hands and words.

When I was told just minutes following her death that she was finally at ease, my first response was an overwhelming relief that she was at peace.
My second was a grateful acknowledgement for being called and an offer to make calls to others if her precious guy desired.

Still midday when those brief calls were made, I hung up wondering what to do next. The announcement of her death to those I’d called were much like the brief updates I’d been sharing when others often called over the past months and weeks on her condition. Her death was peaceable and her guy was with her. What more need be said.

There were no others with whom I wanted to talk with at more length. My feelings were too personal and too deep to risk sharing. There were no tears. Only silence enveloped me in my aloneness since the COVID-19 isolation of early March.

Nor were any of the time honored rituals or usual actions one would take at the time of the death of a beloved available to me now.

I had not seen my friend in weeks. Although I’d continued to talk to her by phone, I had not heard her voice in many days.

Although I’d written to her and her beloved and checked on him by phone, I had not and still could not be with him physically to offer in person comfort. I couldn’t prepare a meal to take over as has been a first action in the past. Ordering a catered and delivered meal is a poor substitute at best.

The funeral plans they’d made a few years earlier are now being challenged and changed by my friend’s daughter. Final plans have not yet been announced. If a memorial is conducted in the cemetery chapel, I cannot attend.

This is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I have lost my friend to death and even prayed for her release from suffering. I’d been informed and had informed others by rote however, none of this news seems real. My days are no different from the many weeks leading up to now.

The pandemic has changed so much for all of us but for those who have lost someone to death and cannot gather to grieve or commemorate that person’s very unique loving, laughing, compassionate, generous ways, it is a time of surreal unreality.

I’m following the daily routine I’ve been following since March. I am cyber sharing in groups and with others as though nothing has changed. Yet everything for me and those who loved her has changed forever. Hopefully, this a temporary state of shock or of denial. However, I fear that grief will be prolonged because the usual ways of mourning are not available during this extraordinary time of pandemic. Yes, the pandemic will eventually pass and people will resume their daily lives more normally. However, I wonder if present circumstance will only make the reality of loss longer and more difficult with the passage of time.

I remind myself throughout each day as I take my routine neighborhood walks or prepare a meal or work in my yard or respond to another’s post that I’ll never again hear my best friend’s voice; I’ll not be able to turn to her for counsel or encouragement or just the joy of knowing that she always has my back regardless.

How am I supposed to feel now? How am I to grieve? What will make this event of passage real enough that I can mourn her loss, celebrate her life and begin to move forward in a meaningful way?

Thousands of others are experiencing the death of a loved one during this pandemic. Some are gathering through Zoom to participate in funerals or celebrations of life. Others, too, cannot come together or react in the usual time honored rituals of a beloved’s passing.

One source found on the internet revealed a link that might prove helpful to others. This link provides excerpts from a book: “Option B” and gives ideas on resiliency in crisis; hardship; support; self-compassion; post traumatic growth and taking back joy: https://optionb.org/bookexcerpt

What suggestions can others who have experienced something like this offer to those of us who are needing support but don’t know how to reach out for it?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Caregivers Support Group.

@lioness

@fiesty76 Anytime . It will take time for you I lost some close friends and it is hard I know but be kind to yourself and glad you and her guy are there for each other . One thing that helped me too was that I would go to his grave to talk that helped a lot . You get to say things you didn't have time to when they are alive . Might help you also .

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@lioness, Yes, Fred and I have talked about plans to do that together later. I think it will be healing for us whether we eventually continue to go together or individually. Of course that will also depend upon whether her daughter will allow some of her ashes to be placed as my friend had planned with her mom and dad. If not, we'll talk at my outdoor table or perhaps his kitchen table if he is allowed to remain in their house where so many, many visits over the years took place. You are so right, that would/does allow an opportunity to share what didn't get shared with the loved one earlier. Hadn't thought of it like that before. Thank you.

Each time I'd visit my family home and as members were added to our family plot, regardless of the primary reason for any visit, I always made it a priority to spend time at the cemetery communing with my loved ones. Those visits throughout the years brought me much comfort and consolation regardless of whatever else was going on in the family. With the completion of estate affairs for my sister, there are no others of that family group living to require a trip back to my hometown. However, I continue to talk with and remember each, dad, mom, sister, nephew throughout the year. We were a close family and their influence continues and is relied upon in my life today.

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@fiesty76

@lioness, Isn't this garbage gardening a hoot???? Like your pics and wish I could share some photos of some of mine that have been "at it" a bit longer. Doncha' feel like a new veggie mamma watching these fragile "newbies" start to emerge????

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@fiesty76 Yep do feel like a garden mama again . Since I sent the beet picture the other one is poping its head through so now I will have some vegies again like before in my own garden . On another note here yes going to the cememtary is important whether you need to get anger out or whatever . When my Dad died I was 6 but when a teenager I would go and talk to him . I still talk to his picture here and Mom it is comforting to do this . Tell Fred also too I hope she does her Mom's wishes and put her ashes where she wanted . Is she communicating now to Fred and you?

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@gingerw

@fiesty76 Alice, since there will be a chapel service, is there any way this could be put as a Zoom type broadcast? Since you mentioned your friend was a known and respected educator, there may be far-reaching persons who are not able to attend for differing reasons, whether it be COVID-19 or previous commitments. Perhaps you can contact the place it will be held, and ask?

A note to her guy in your writing may go far in comforting both of you.
Ginger

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Hi, @gingerw, I'd asked if a Zoom broadcast might be considered for the service but daughter decided against that. I am saddened that she hasn't included Fred in the final arrangements but he somehow manages to continue to walk on eggs and avoid confrontations. He must surely have accumulated a whole new spectrum/constellation of stars for his crown by now! smiles.

The daughter would not agree to having her mom's ashes placed in the family plot. Instead declared that she will carry them home with her and have them made into some type of necklace. I am beyond despair at her disregard for her mom's expressed/desired plans and wishes. At least she referenced Fred as companion in the obituary as well as the brothers, she did not include the names of their wives because she "never liked them".

I'd delivered a letter, which included some possible tribute remembrances that might be used during the service to Fred along with a batch of his favorite chocolate chip cookies and a can of his favorite reg. Coke the other day about 6am. Parked in front of a neighbor's house and posted a note on his garage window of the "pkg" left. Didn't want to alert anyone of the delivery and though he shared what I wrote with daughter and said it had "made his day", I seriously doubt any of it will be read at the service today. It was primarily intended for him and my friend knew how much she was loved by so many.

As my friend so often said: "This too shall pass" and although I cannot be there to physically support him today, we will have other times ahead to share.

Even knowing that the daughter's unreasonable behavior is a manifestation of her untreated mental illness, I know the best action for me is to avoid any and all possible contact with her. Fred and I are talking daily and he knows beyond doubt that my door and outside table are always open and available to him and little Tuffy.

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@fiesty76

Hi, @gingerw, I'd asked if a Zoom broadcast might be considered for the service but daughter decided against that. I am saddened that she hasn't included Fred in the final arrangements but he somehow manages to continue to walk on eggs and avoid confrontations. He must surely have accumulated a whole new spectrum/constellation of stars for his crown by now! smiles.

The daughter would not agree to having her mom's ashes placed in the family plot. Instead declared that she will carry them home with her and have them made into some type of necklace. I am beyond despair at her disregard for her mom's expressed/desired plans and wishes. At least she referenced Fred as companion in the obituary as well as the brothers, she did not include the names of their wives because she "never liked them".

I'd delivered a letter, which included some possible tribute remembrances that might be used during the service to Fred along with a batch of his favorite chocolate chip cookies and a can of his favorite reg. Coke the other day about 6am. Parked in front of a neighbor's house and posted a note on his garage window of the "pkg" left. Didn't want to alert anyone of the delivery and though he shared what I wrote with daughter and said it had "made his day", I seriously doubt any of it will be read at the service today. It was primarily intended for him and my friend knew how much she was loved by so many.

As my friend so often said: "This too shall pass" and although I cannot be there to physically support him today, we will have other times ahead to share.

Even knowing that the daughter's unreasonable behavior is a manifestation of her untreated mental illness, I know the best action for me is to avoid any and all possible contact with her. Fred and I are talking daily and he knows beyond doubt that my door and outside table are always open and available to him and little Tuffy.

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@fiesty76 Can you or her guy ask the daughter for a "token" amount of ashes? Surely she cannot begrudge you that? That is what we did with my father. While I had the bulk of ashes to commit to the sea, there were also a very small token amount distributed among the children, plus I left ashes at two of his onshore favorite places. As he was a Navy man, aboard the USS Enterprise in WWII, I ordered a stainless steel anchor from Perfect Memorials for each child.

You'll be in my thoughts today. You are dealing with a lot, and how blessed you and her guy are to have each other!
Ginger

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@gingerw, Thank you so much for your thoughts and words today. Yes, the suggestion was made and rejected that a division of ashes be allowed.

How thoughtful your actions were for those closest to your father and what a lovely gesture for token amounts to be shared among his children. Perhaps this will be an idea others can implement in future.

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@fiesty76 I,m so sorry you and Fred can't have something of the service the daughter may think she is doing right but she isn't . That was so nice of you to leave the letter and choc. chip cookies for him ,my heart goes out to you for what she is doing . Did your friend have any last wishes she put in writing? Again I,lm sorry this is happening to you and her guy . Thinking of you

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