For Rose

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

My mama taught me so much

The last thing was how to grieve in public,

how to weep behind teeth that grin.

How to pretend.

-Excerpt from a poem I wrote after my mother’s death close to 17 years ago

During the pandemic I’ve been reminded of what it means to learn how to grieve more often than I’d like to admit. This week I learned that a dear friend who I thought of as an aunt passed away sometime over the last two months. Her name was Rose and she immigrated to the United States from Jamaica leaving behind her family more than 10 years ago. I suspected she was ill or had transitioned because she was no longer active on WhatsApp and hadn’t been since November even after I messaged her in December to acknowledge her birthday. The news was confirmed via a Facebook post I saw this week that was shared earlier in the month.

Although she lived just a train ride away in the Bronx, we hadn’t seen each other since prior to the pandemic. I knew she had cancer and other preexisting health conditions and I was concerned that I might be a covid-carrier and risk further compromising her health. The choice to not visit her is one I made not knowing she would pass during this time apart.

This discovery and other recent news this week including the tragic fire that killed 17 adults and children in the Bronx, New York have brought to mind the ways in which loss and death have become so commonplace. Additionally, the recent deaths of “giants” such as Colin Powell, Lani Guinier, Betty White and Sidney Poitier, are experienced in ways that feel unfamiliar and hurried when compared to how we’ve grown accustomed to mourning the people we admire.

But no losses are quite as sobering as those of friends and family who, because of the pandemic, we’ve learned to grieve, eulogize and bury virtually. In the United States alone 844,631 people are reported dead due to the coronavirus — approximately 310,000 more people than the combined casualties for the United States in World War 1 and World War 2. Globally, 5.5 million people are reported to have died after contracting the virus. The immensity of this loss is not one we can appropriately fathom.

Unlike any other in our history, this time period has taught us how to unlearn how to grieve. Will there be opportunity in the times to come to return to relearning the ways of grieving we once knew? Has the loss of lives, opportunity, and life as we knew it made grieving less likely or are we so accustomed to loss that death no longer impacts us deeply?

I pray that the times ahead would allow us to grieve in ways that uphold the truth of our humanity — that as inevitable as death is, we should continue to cherish all that life extends, especially other people. Even in the absence of attending Rose’s funeral, I choose to mourn and grieve for her as best as I know how in honor of her memory and impact on my life.

May we all continue to love and cherish people whose lives touch us so deeply, we refuse to accept hurried, calloused and desensitized ways of mourning even and perhaps especially during a global pandemic. And May Rose’s rest be sweet.

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I’m a creative, a consultant and a social impact entrepreneur who loves to write about leadership, faith and joy. Founder, RenewToday.net & TwoFive.online

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Amelia Elizabeth

Amelia Elizabeth

I’m a creative, a consultant and a social impact entrepreneur who loves to write about leadership, faith and joy. Founder, RenewToday.net & TwoFive.online

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