Covid 19 has robbed us of our chance to say goodbye. Whether, the virus is directly involved or not, our ability to grieve is changing. How do you say goodbye from six feet apart? We’re tactile creatures and in grief, we reach out and hold those who are hurting.
I went to our first funeral since the pandemic descended on Canada. Gerald Loughlin is a family friend of ours. Has been for years. A man, who was larger than life in the small village of Hallville Ontario. Farming and family was in his blood. Both made him smile. The man loved machinery. . Loughlin Motors, in the village, sports his name. A pillar in the community, volunteer firefighter, Gerald was called on many times in the middle of the night to help someone in need. (Usually to tow a vehicle out of a ditch).
So how do you say goodbye to someone who means so much to the community? In our Covid world, you improvise, from six feet apart. A drive by parade in honour of the man was planned. When my wife and I pulled into Hallville about 45 minutes before the start, there were hundreds of vehicles waiting to send him off. By the time, the vehicles started rolling, over 400 fire trucks, tow trucks, new tractors, classic cars and pick ups were headed for the homestead to pay our respects.
Along the route, residents many with their children had lawn chairs set up to watch the send off, the ultimate sign of respect on a cool, damp Sunday morning. As we snaked our way to the homestead to say a final farewell to Gerald and the family, my wife was in tears. Not just for Gerald and not just for his friends and family, but because all she wanted to do is go up and give them a hug of support. But us tactile creatures can no longer do so in the pandemic at least right now and at least from six feet apart.