Covid-19 Funerals

OF TIME and PLACE

During World Wars I and II many combat deaths occurred abroad. After the enemy had been engaged, burial parties following up the combat troops had the duty of burying those who had been killed, collecting them whenever possible into groups and burying them together in selected spots.

The burials would have been conducted with as much dignity and reverence as the situation allowed, but many would have been buried by those unknown to them: a very lonely situation indeed.

Often several days later the British War Office would have notified the next of kin. The family in Britain would have received the feared telegram - "Deeply regret to inform you soldier [rank and name] was 'killed in action' on [for example] 13th November 1916 in France.”

Thus, the next of kin would have had no details of the exact time or the place of burial. With no clear idea when peace might be established they would have no sense of when and where they might eventually be able to visit the grave of their loved one. The distress of their loss was compounded by the ‘not knowing’.

 

In 2020, Covid-19 is ‘the enemy’. Many deaths occur in hospitals or care homes and modern communications will relay the sad news to the next of kin – and then the wider circle of family and friends. The time and place of death is known, but this does not ease the family’s sense of deep distress.

Later, a funeral has to be arranged, but limited to a small number of family members. Clergy and funeral directors will conduct the funeral with dignity and reverence but there may be the same sense of ‘loneliness’, of the missing family members and friends who would wish to attend the funeral and express their grief and offer their condolences.

However, the small group of relatives at the funeral may hopefully provide some sense of connection with the time and place of the funeral. Others will have been made aware of the details and, in absence, still ‘feel’ the occasion. This may be small comfort to those at the funeral, but they do have an important role to play in offering that connection.

And for those who have Faith in a Creator God, who have Faith in a God of all time and a God in all places, God is there at the funeral, unseen, and beyond all understanding. A God for whom every life, however brief it may seem, is important.       

 

OF BURIAL

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, their life journey is now complete,

For the enemy, the deadly foe, has triumphed over hope.

For them, a life cut cruelly short, now resting at our feet,

The reason for life’s deep mystery? No answer can invoke.

 

Each memory, so safely stored, as we bade our sad ‘Farewell’,

So swift the Reaper had seemed to move, undaunted was his pace.

It is not easy to accept that a Faith can such grief dispel,

Yet here, and now, can we discern the God of Time and Place?

 

Lord, we pray that they will look upon, and feel Your sure embrace,

Lord, may we know our journey’s worth, and guide our Time and Place.

©NCHV2020

 

If any of this material resonates with your situation, please feel free to use it in any way you wish – permission is hereby granted.