There’s a good chance we all know someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19, went into the ICU and died unexpectedly and possibly alone. Friends and family members could not visit and death may have come quickly. The body may have been put into storage and the funeral delayed. People are also dying in hospitals from things other than COVID-19 without the usual support of friends and family members due to restrictions in visitation.
Saying our goodbye’s and I love you’s or I wish things had been different at the bedside is key to beginning the grieving process. No matter what words need to be said, the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes, all that can be said is thank you for the lesson on how not to be, and that’s OK. It is important to express everything to begin to release and heal.
Words are important, I want to share with you a passage from a wonderful book, Mystery of the White Lions, Children of the Sun God by Linda Tucker.
Saint John’s Gospel begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Egyptian Book of the Dead, which is the oldest written text in the world, contains the equivalent passage: “I am the Eternal…I am that which created the Word…I am the Word.” The original meaning of “the Word” is identified with the notion of sound. The “seminal Word,” like the seed, gives form to unformed matter. (Often equated with solar Logos, “the Word of the sun.”)
Saying all the words that need to be said is crucial. What can we do to make this happen after the fact? How can friends and families cope?
Even after a loved one has passed friends and families can enact a death bed scene, imagine themselves sitting by the bedside of their loved ones and say all the things they wish they could have said just as though their loved one is right there with them. Because, guess what – this is often the case. If friends and family are in isolation, each member can enact the deathbed scene for themselves. If possible, the family can enact the deathbed scene virtually connecting through zoom or by facetime or even just by phone.
Expressing and releasing is not only cathartic for loved ones but also for the deceased who may be lingering and waiting to hear the words of forgiveness and love in order to fully transition to the other side. Sometimes hearing these words helps them to realize and accept their own death which may have come as a great shock to them.
Enacting a deathbed scene and saying all the things you wish you had said to your deceased friend or family member also works to heal traumatic situations where anger, resentment, distance or anything else kept you away. It doesn’t matter if it happened twenty years ago, you can always enact the death bed scene and say the words that you have been longing to say. All the words in your heart, without holding back.
Enacting the death bed scene and saying goodbye is only the beginning of the grieving process. Grief and the associated emotions of guilt, anger, sadness, and despair are still there. It’s so important to understand that it’s ok, we don’t have to “get over it” or “move on.” Grief is a journey! And we will continue to take it together!