Losing a loved one painful, especially now

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The world is going through a pandemic, and for many people this is something completely new. Communities have had to set standards and rules that change day to day as the virus spreads throughout the world at a troubling pace.
One such way that we have had to change is through social distancing and quarantines. Places like senior facilities have been closed to everyone but workers, and people are encouraged to get no closer than six feet to each other.
These changes have impacted so many facets of our lives, including the process of losing a loved one. There is no final good-bye, no community gathering to celebrate a life and no actual funeral to be held.
I know that many families are losing their loved ones to this disease. A death is rarely ever an easy thing to go through, no matter the circumstances. Taking away part of the grieving process doesn’t help either, unfortunately.
My family has recently laid my grandfather to rest, after he passed away on April 22. A small visitation with just immediate family was held, then we attended a grave-side service.
Some of us wore face masks, and everyone tried their best to keep some distance, while also wanting nothing more than to comfort each other. There were no condolences whispered as people came and went, and no 21-gun salute to celebrate his military career.
The whole day felt somewhat surreal, like everyone was at a loss of what to do and how to act. I will say that my family rallied, despite the circumstances that were given to them.
I’m not sure you can say there is a typical funeral or even a proper way to grieve, but we make do with what we have. Some people have not been handling the current circumstances well, but for so many others it shines a light on the kindness and love they carry for other people.
I saw the strength my father, uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings possessed as we gathered to support my grandmother. Love could be felt in everything we did, but I also felt fear from the virus in a time that brought extreme stress to everyone.
No one can know what everyone was thinking or feeling during that day, or the pain they may be carrying know. Maybe they were as fearful, maybe less so.
It’s probably frowned upon, but on the day I found out he had passed I hugged my family. I held them close and then sat there, worried that someone might become sick, worried that my grandma could get sick, but wanting so badly to hold them all so close again.
We had to decide between being socially responsible and knowing that it was the right thing to do, or hoping that everyone was being safe and that we could then be safe, together. That was hard when everyone of us is marked essential.
I know my story and experience aren’t unique right now. Many people have lost someone and many more will before this pandemic is over. I can’t even comprehend what some people are going through in the bigger cities, or the toll on front-line workers.
That being said, pain is relative, and trying to mourn and deal with regrets will never be easy. I wish I could have been there for him, but I know us visiting could have brought the virus to all the other residents. I wish I could give my family and all the families out there proper closure.
Papa was loved though, and even if we couldn’t be there physically I want to believe that he could still feel that love from his family.
Someday down the road my family is planning on holding a public memorial with military honors, and on that day my family can gather again to once more celebrate grandpa’s life.
JENI MOELLENBERNDT can be reached at features@ hamilton.net

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