Updated: Jul 11, 2020
By Rev. Lakeya Stewart
The Mississippi Mass Choir sings the song “Your Grace and Mercy”. Hear the chorus of this song: “Your grace and mercy brought me through, I’m living this moment because of You, I want to thank You and praise You too, Your grace and mercy brought me through!”
Hallelujah! This song has carried me through some difficult times. Most recently it brought
me through some trying times when it comes to grief and coping with Covid-19. For a period, there were so many people that I knew that passed away from Covid. Their deaths seemed to pile up and that was heart wrenching. The devastating part was that many of these folks didn’t have a proper burial.
I want to qualify what I mean concerning a proper burial. In some cultures, particularly in my culture as an African American, a proper burial in this context generally and traditionally involves a time of “weeping and wailing”. This “weeping and wailing” often occurs at the funeral near the casket of the deceased. Family and close friends are often seen clustering around the surviving family offering support through hugs and embrace.
It hurts…it hurts that Covid-19 has taken away our traditional ways of grief we have come to expect. Covid-19 has stretched us and has forced us to make changes in our grief processes. Virtual funerals have become a norm. No longer can we embrace our friends and family in their final moments with their loved ones before the burial. Thankfully, the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing; however, funeral homes are still requiring social distancing.
Social distancing and Covid-19 have robbed us of the ways in which we have traditionally understood grief. As I have ministered to families who are left with the brokenness of little closure, I am left with questions. How will we ever grieve?
To add another layer to this complicated grief, we continue to see the unlawful killing of African Americans. Time after time we see those in authority “getting away with” these murders. How will the family members of these individuals cope in the days ahead? How will they bury their loved ones? Who will get to say goodbye?
It’s nothing but the grace and mercy of God that has truly brought us through these difficult times. We still have difficult days ahead of us, but we also have a God who promised to walk with us…every step of the way. Be Blessed.
-Rev. Lakeya Stewart