Holy week has been heavy. Not just because we are living in the upside down and having to figure out how to participate in Easter services remotely, but because my church community has suffered loss this week.
Three deaths in three consecutive days.
Would the timing have been the same were there not a global pandemic? It’s hard to say. All three were elderly and two of the three were in poor health. These individuals weren’t blood relatives but I deeply love the family members who connect us and grieving for them and with them from a distance is very difficult.
I’m not sure if the irony of so much loss happening on Maundy Thursday is a comfort or more painful. Normally Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are set aside for reflection and, if I’m completely honest, more brain power is spent on planning Easter lunch, boiling eggs, and deciding how much money to spend on Easter basket treats so that they are fun yet not Christmas lite.
But this year…time I would have spent preparing for Easter has been consumed with figuring out how to keep the boys motivated to participate in online learning from home coupled with the latest pandemic news. Now add the loss of loved ones and the concept of distance grieving (that so many people around the globe are experiencing) is brought into sharp focus.
I keep thinking about the women who stayed with Jesus as he suffered on the cross. I imagine them holding vigil together, clinging to each other for comfort yet alone in their grief from the rest of their community. Everyone else seemed to have turned their backs on Jesus. Those who threw palm branches at his feet just a few days before had demanded his death. His beloved disciples who promised to be true to the end, turned tail and ran when the law came looking for an arrest. Yes, his followers would be faithful to him later on but in their deepest and darkest hour I imagine them all to be a alone in their despair.
Together yet separate.
That is where we find ourselves. Distance grieving. Wanting to sit with our friends and raise a glass together for those we have lost. Wanting to hug and cry together. Instead we have to make due with leaving a casserole on the porch and waving from the car. We have to be content with connecting through a computer screen instead of living rooms.
And yet, we will not be separated forever. We will not always grieve alone. There will come a time (in this life or the next) when this fog will lift and we will hold each other close. We will mourn our losses together and honor the memories of our loved ones as a group.
Until then we wait. We wait in grief and loss with a sliver of hope that this will not be our reality until the end of time. We cling to the hope that this veil will be lifted and our hearts will be stronger and our connections unbroken.