Mourning our Losses.
Too many of us, live with our regrets. The very sudden death of Siobhan leaves us with questions. Though Siobhan didn’t talk freely, freely, about her illness, we were still free to ponder with her.
I still remember and regret a time when my Father asked me a heart and soul question about my sister and I gave him an academic answer instead of mulling over his question with him. The result was, it silenced him forever.
The un-expected arrival of COVID 19 on our doorsteps in 2019, brought untold hardship and death to many individuals, families, friends and communities. Family units were split as households battled with sudden hospitalisation, isolation, contagion, loneliness, dying, despair and death.
Workers lost jobs, income, identity, dignity as they struggled to cope with sudden change. All social encounters were suddenly cut short. Pubs, bars, restaurants, community centres, face to face medical appointments were ruled out. Religious Services and Sacred Places, where many people found peace and hope, were shut down. We battled to keep safe as we tried to live with this new virus which affected our most vulnerable. Receiving all that the HSE and Government had to offer in terms of health care and prevention, was an assurance and comfort. The measures were put in place immediately. So also were the payments to individuals and businesses. There were set backs for students whose courses never got started. However for others on-line lectures did materialise.
Many people were badly affected by social exclusion. Dreams were shattered, intimacy and common place banter were on hold. The virus wreaked havoc on much of what we took for granted, e.g. our health. Poor attention, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, loss of taste, appetite, overwhelming fatigue, affected many. Whilst the number of homeless people looking for a place to live increased, the painful sight of vacant and derelict buildings multiplied. In the midst of all this the country that was/is Ukraine is under siege. Wives have had to flee their homes and country, whilst their husbands become soldiers to fight an unjust war. Children lose their fathers and the stability of home. The whole world is adversely affected.
And closer to home another devastating tragedy in Creeslough, where ten people lost their sacred lives. Whilst a community and country mourned the loss, the words of young Hamish will remain in our hearts forever. He had the confidence to speak his truth.
Naming our Losses is one step on the journey to healing and wholeness. Healing takes time. Spending time in nature: letting the birds, beasts, insects, plants, rocks, the elements, speak to our hearts and bring healing, since God walks in the Garden. Setting time aside for meditation and personal prayer helps. In some cultures, actions and rituals given by a ‘sangoma’ in Africa or a child in north-east Japan can help to lay down the grief.
In lockdown we experienced how bird song returned. We also saw how neighbours, families and people of goodwill, showed once again the good old ‘meitheal’ spirit. So there is Hope.
The words of the prophet Malachi resound in our hearts ‘But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays’.
Catherine Campbell OP