Today’s sunshine raises our spirits. Even though we are still queuing 2 metres apart outside the stores, standing in the sunshine seems to dispel the corona-virus shadows. I find myself wondering if it also helps people who’ve lost friends and family to the disease, those still coping with the shock and grief, that was especially worse in the beginning because relatives weren’t able to say goodbye. Bergamo’s Bishop Francesco Beschi said there had been an outcry, though it was as silent as death. In an intercessory prayer at the Bergamo cemetery at the end of March for the more than 1,800 people who had died in the city and their relatives, he said, “We must not leave them alone with their pain, those who have seen their loved ones disappear into nothingness.”
To date, 38,161 people have died from Covid-19. Around the middle of April hospitals made adjustments so relatives could come in to say goodbye and patients would not have to die alone. Having those final talks with loved ones makes coping with grief much easier. A friend told me how it made such a difference spending time with his mother before she died. ‘We told each other everything we needed to hear,’ he said.
And I am forever grateful to my beautiful daughter-in-law in South Carolina who held the phone near my son so I could tell him how proud I was of him and how much I loved him, hours before he died. And to hear him say, ‘I love you, Mum.’
But in the pandemic, time spent was limited and goodbyes were by phone ior iPad, either encased in full PPE or through Ward windows. Some didn’t manage it, at all. How can you let go and grieve properly if you haven’t had those last conversations?
When my gentle 19 year old grandson , Luke, was killed in a freak motorbike accident in a deserted country road, for me the world stopped turning. Everything felt unreal. But two things helped more than anything – one was telling Jesus what I wanted Him to know, and the other what I wanted Luke to know. I wanted Jesus to tell him. I’m not sure where the theology is here, but I know that nothing is impossible with Him. Jesus existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together (Colossians 1:17), including us. In his blog, author Randy Alcorn says that when praying he sometimes says, ‘”Lord, would you please give my mom a hug, and tell her it’s from me?” Now I think my mom sometimes sees what’s going on here and might hear this when I say it, but I KNOW God hears it. And I trust God to do what He knows is best. Does that make sense?”’. (Note, not praying directly to the person, but to Jesus.)
Tell the Lord Jesus how you are feeling, and what you would like your loved one to know. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and His Holy Spirit is the ultimate communicator.
Sometimes it can help to write your loved one a letter. Write on special notepaper, and say everything you want them to know. Put it in an envelope, with their name written in your best hand-writing. Don’t type it, write by hand, and keep it in a special place.
Above all, know that Jesus defeated death at Calvary. Separation is painful, but it’s only until we arrive Home, ourselves. On day, thank God, all things will be well.