1 Living with loss in all its forms
In the dark reality of COVID-19 with its high human cost, finding inspiration, mutual support and creative communal solutions is more important than ever. One of the most painful losses many people have experienced is losing a loved one during lockdown, whether as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or due to other causes. When in social isolation, for example, it may not be possible to spend time with a loved one who is dying. Under new restrictions it may not be possible to mourn or mark their death in accordance with traditional religious or belief systems in ways that a family or community wishes.
Yet under COVID-19, alternative rituals have also emerged as people find new ways to bear witness to the lives and deaths of those they have known. In some communities neighbours and friends pay their respects from afar, standing on their doorsteps as the funeral car passes, rather than walking behind the hearse and attending the funeral service. Letters and cards have replaced actually being there, hugging and shaking hands with the bereaved ones. Communal prayer services are conducted on video conferencing apps such as Zoom in which hundreds of people can take part to provide love and support. In other cases, memorials are live-streamed on private YouTube channels. Promises are made to celebrate the lives of loved ones at an unspecified future date.
In 2020, more generally, our social way of life has changed significantly. Personal freedom, for example, can often be taken for granted, particularly by those living in Western democracies. For a significant period of time, losing the freedom to choose what you do, where you go, with whom you spend time and with whom you don’t, can be challenging. Friendships or relationships may shift and your horizons may feel narrower due to the confines of the physical space you are in. Coping with loss in all its forms and finding new ways of being and of doing things, is both a challenge and an opportunity for all of us during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Activity 2 Reflecting on change and renewal
Note down your responses to the following questions:
- Take a moment to reflect on some of the rituals that you notice have changed or been lost, during the pandemic.
- Can you think of either any alternative rituals or a new ways of doing things to cope with this loss that have emerged?