My Experience With Socially-Distanced Death
Nobody wants to be close to death. But I’ve learned this last month that nobody wants to be socially-distanced from it either.
When my grandmother died, she went the way she would have wanted to go. She died in her sleep, without family fussing over her. I am grateful that she was able to go pain-free and peacefully. But mourning loss in a COVID World meant that all of the important Jewish traditions, meant to allow family and friends to pay respects and come to their own peace with the loss of life, were unable to be observed. A Zoom burial is not the same as feeling a cold, heavy shovel in your hand as you place the dirt into the hole. A Zoom “celebration of life” does not feel as real as an in-person shiva full of home-cooked food, hugs and the feeling of being surrounded by loved ones. The beautiful words of the Mourner’s Kaddish became slurred and jumbled as the computers lagged.
I appreciate every effort that was made to allow our family and friends to be together. But it also sparks anger at a world that caused me to be apart from my loved ones in the time I needed them most. I am thankful for an amazing fiancé and best friend (my Corona bubble) who were there for me, listening to my stories and giving me emotional support.
I said goodbye to my grandmother through FaceTime on an iPhone. I have the pictures of my grandmother and me from the 26 years we spent together in this world. Those memories are real. But death does not feel real when it is mourned through a computer screen.