Right now, we live in difficult times. As more and more Oklahomans succumb to COVID-19, those of us that remain are left with many questions. One of these is “How do we honor those that have passed?“
More importantly, how do we honor them safely?
Sure, there are many traditional options for honoring our dead. Many of those are closed to us right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still honor those that have passed.
Remember that in times of grief, physical acts can help to keep us out of our heads. They can also help us recover some sense of agency inside of situations we can’t control.
One of the first things you might do when a loved one has passed might be to contact a church or other religious institution for advice.
It’s true that many synagogues, mosques, and churches remain closed to regular worship services in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Many of these communities are still active online, however, and still offer support and resources that way.
Memorials and other services are often streamed over Zoom or other videoconferencing options. Clergy members are also sometimes willing to provide small graveside services, for close friends and family members. And sometimes one-on-one bereavement counseling is available.
Ask your church how they are helping those in need. Ask to speak with one of the clergy, a deacon, imam, rabbi, or priest when you need another human to speak to or grieve with.
And remember: Hurt is lessened by sharing.
Set Up a Vigil
Another idea is to set up candles and photos of your loved one. Place them on your porch or in your window. Allow others to drive past and wave, or honk in support.
Place a box in your driveway — the larger the better. This way your friends and neighbors will have a place to leave flowers, notes of appreciation, or any other item they might want to share as a sign of their shared grief and support for you.
As these items are collected, be sure to handle them carefully. Wash your hands after dealing with them. And if you’re in a high-risk group, ask people to be extra careful and mindful of you. They might send you an email instead.
These gestures — and making the space for them to happen — can mean a lot to others who want to support you, but never had a chance to properly say goodbye.
Don’t know what to do with your grief? Try digging in the dirt.
Plants bring life into the world. Planting a fruit-bearing tree is one way of remembering your loved one. You might also plant an ornamental bush or even some flowers. Because these are living things, these can act as symbols of hope and of life.
Even if you don’t have a yard, you can always plant something in a pot!
When we are in the middle of our own grief, it’s important to remember to reach out to other people. Grief is easier to bear when it is shared, even with people we don’t know that well.
Finally, organizations like Christi Center can help you simply get through your days. Both locally and online, they offer support groups and seminars which are led by people who understand what you’re going through — and who want to help you recover from your loss and rebuild your life.