I took a funeral today. Actually you couldn’t really call it a funeral – there was no church service (not allowed), no friends of the deceased (only immediate family allowed); no handshakes or hugs or pats on the back to comfort the bereaved (not allowed). The coffin was lowered into the grave before I started, to protect the Undertakers, who wheeled the coffin round on a trolley and then carried it on two pieces of wood (carrying and touching the coffin not allowed). I couldn’t visit the family beforehand as I would normally do (not allowed) and the family could not gather afterwards for a reception or wake (yep, you got it, not allowed).
For me, this is so far the worst of this pandemic – not being able to give people the comfort and service they need when saying goodbye to a loved one. Yet this is the best it’s going to be for now. And it’s hard to take. Already I want to cry out with the psalmist, “O LORD, how long will you look on?” (Psalm 35v17).
Today, as you struggle with all the changes being forced upon you – homeschooling, working from home, not being able to see family, worries about income etc etc – spare a thought, and a prayer, for those who are unable to give a loved Mother, Father, Spouse or child a proper farewell; and while you’re at it, pray for Funeral Directors and their staff as they are constantly having to adapt what they do. And then, if you have any prayers left, remember the Ministers who are trying to provide some sort of stability and normality in all this.