Georgia Love: Saying Goodbye To A Loved One In A COVID-19 World
Saying goodbye is never easy.
Funerals are some of the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking experiences we as humans face, as we gather to commemorate life and acknowledge the loss of the people closest to us. The only thing that makes the funeral of a loved one even the slightest bit bearable is having your support network around you and seeing how many people were also touched by the person who has passed away.
So what if that is taken away from you?
COVID-19 has taken over our world at a rate and with a force never-before-seen. It has forced the closure of schools, workplaces, entire industries, even entire countries. But by far the cruellest thing it has taken from us is the opportunity to grieve.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has amended the rules around how many people can attend a funeral under our current level of lockdown laws. While on Tuesday, he announced no more than 10 mourners could attend a funeral, he has announced states and territories can offer exemptions for “hardship cases”. The exemption would allow another one or two family members to attend, only under special circumstances. And the total number includes a funeral director and celebrant. So in reality, even in specially exempt cases, the total number of mourners allowed is 10.
Ten people to mourn a life.
I had a friend who passed away in 2014, aged 39. She had two young children and owned a dance school in a very close-knit community. The school was her third baby and its hundreds of students and their families an extension of her own. Her death touched the entire community, with 900 people turning out for her funeral. About half of those mourners were children. I truly cannot fathom having to tell even one of them they weren’t allowed to say goodbye to their beloved dance teacher.
When my own mum died in 2016, I had friends and family fly in from all around the country to give her the send-off she’d wished for (aperol spritzes, colourful outfits and The Monkees soundtrack on the beach. Bless...) and to be by my family’s side. That week between her death and her funeral was a total blur -- grief does that to you. In my experience, the only way to get through that time and to be able to even get out of bed on the morning of your mother’s funeral is having a large support network around you helping you do so. Standing by your side, holding your hand and giving you their shoulder to cry on.
It makes me feel literally sick to the stomach to think of having to go through that with only nine selected family members.
Now, say there was no number limit. Say ScoMo said as many people could attend a funeral as they want to, so long as we keep up with social distancing rules. Well that’s no good either. Venues and funeral parlours have been forced to close.
Earlier this month, a beautiful young Melbourne woman was attacked and killed on a leafy Hawthorn street. In “a random act of senseless violence”, she was stabbed to death in front of her girlfriend outside their home. In the most horrendous and unfathomable circumstances, her family is trying to come to terms with the murder of their daughter, granddaughter, sister and partner, killed five days after her 30th birthday.
Through the haze of their grief, they’d organised a funeral to be held last week. But the venue cancelled, forced to close because of COVID-19. They tried again at another venue, then that closed too. Through the worst fortnight of their lives, they’ve been turned away and told they can’t choose how they want to send off their beautiful girl, taken too soon in the cruellest way imaginable.
After 15 gruelling days and two cancelled memorial services, her family was yesterday finally able to say goodbye.
'Random, Senseless Act Of Violence': Three Dead, Woman Fighting For Life After Stabbing Spree In Melbourne
Three people are dead and a woman is fighting for life after a 34-year-old man went on a violent stabbing spree in Melbourne's eastern suburbs which police have described as a "random senseless act of violence".
With just eight people.
Via video link.
This story makes my heart physically ache. I didn’t know this young woman (I have a personal connection to her family), but I grieve for her every morning and every night. And I grieve for her broken family. I simply cannot imagine the pain they are suffering... and they can’t even hug their friends.
I implore everyone reading this to please think of this family when you are considering going to dinner at your friend’s house this weekend. When you decide to visit your grandma because you fear she’ll be feeling lonely. When you have a sore throat but think you’d better go to work.
Because if we don’t stop the spread of this virus rapidly, it could be you or I having to handpick which family members can attend our loved one’s funerals. And personally, that is something I would lock myself away for months to avoid.
Featured Image: Supplied