This article was posted on medium.com on May 20 with the title “Bouncing from a COVID funeral,” and is reprinted with permission.
I had a loss in my family this weekend. It was not related to COVID. Nonetheless, it has been an exceptionally challenging time to lose a loved one. There are no mourning rituals, or figurative closures or moments to console the ones who are hurting the most. There are no hugs or shmoozing or recounting memories or poring over old picture albums around a coffee cake and a cup of tea (you get the idea: insert any of your traditions or rituals here).
Loss and death are concepts I struggle with, like most people. I always feel like I cannot say the right thing and feel awkward in the presence of those hurting the most. I am not “good” at funerals or mourning phases. I generally show up, pay my respects, and bounce.
What makes losing life during this unique time in history so hard is that we are mandated to be socially distant. However, when death hits the one we know and love, it is so heartbreaking, I want to so badly be socially closer, more than ever before. I would not have bounced. I would have stayed and been present.
Today, at 2 p.m., I will sit on a Zoom call to pay my respects. I will send a meal to the homes of the mourners. My father will be one of 10 that is allowed at the graveside service. He will wear his masks and gloves and stand six feet apart from his sister and nieces.
This seems grossly unfair, for a person whose funeral would have attracted people counting in the hundreds.
I cannot show up at this funeral even if I wanted to. I can sit in my house and watch it all go down on a live stream. It feels so cheap and lame and gross. Not the tribute that this person deserves.
The learning for me – as we sit together, alone, living a socially dis-social lifestyle for the foreseeable future, what small acts of kindness, generosity, pay it forward, TLC and tenderness can I express to just one other person to enrich their lives?
When I close my eyes and I imagine the eulogy recited at the end of my time on this earth, I wonder, what will I be remembered for?
I challenge you: what will you be remembered for?
Are you proud of the life you have lived?
How would you want to go down in the books?
What is your legacy, big or small?
It’s a morbid thought – not a place I often go but feel compelled to address, given the nature of the planet and the nature of my family’s pain.
My heart aches for anyone who has lost anyone during this truly f*cked up moment in time.
May your memory be a blessing.
Alana Kayfetz Kantor is founder and chief executive officer at MomsTO and MOMFEST, and co-host of Moms That Say F*ck the Podcast.