THIS REMEMBRANCE DAY, I should be thinking of all the lives lost in years gone by because of wars. Some wars which ended before my birth, some more recent, some that have yet to end.
But that’s not where my thoughts have been leading up to Remembrance Day. Instead, I’m thinking more and more about the ones who have died since COVID, whose lives are remembered, but with little closure. No funeral. No memorial. Just, for some, a promise of a gathering sometime, someday soon.
In the last few weeks, I’ve lost a few lifelong friends. Perhaps not unexpected, given their age, but still a great loss. For one, who had contributed in the healthcare field for years in Kamloops, there was no funeral at all.
For another, who had a presence larger than life while living, a modest gathering of direct family marked their passing. There’s little closure for those of us still here.
We’re left contemplating alone what these and others we have lost meant to us, feeling inadequate in providing comfort to their loved ones.
Even more than before, Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites have become a place to express our losses, and condolences. It quickly links us together with others.
For me, childhood friends quickly echoed sympathy for someone we all knew growing up. We find out about death on social media, and we provide our sympathy and support there as well.
Obituaries in the paper are longer and longer, replacing the spoken eulogies we would have heard at a funeral. Small remembrances of what a person did, their love of family almost always trumping anything else in their lives.
I know for myself, I have only ever had regret for a funeral or memorial I didn’t attend. In that quiet time sitting on a hard pew, listening to someone’s loved ones recalling memories, I think of how that person made a difference in my life. And I harken back to what I might have done differently in my life. Then I hug the family and try to give a bit of comfort. Social media and obituaries are a pale substitute.
Remembrance Day is important in so many ways. But one of the most important is that it is a gathering together of the whole community. We can think back and appreciate those people we knew who fought in wars past, putting their lives in harm’s way for us all. We all know someone who has fought in a war. For me it was two grandfathers, and an uncle. You know someone too. Remembrance Days in the past gave us a chance to remember many, even when it is different people we are there for.
Gathering together, past Remembrance Days strengthened all our spirits.
Someday, when COVID is over, I hope that we host a community wide memorial, to remember all those who died during COVID. Too many people have died without a chance for their friends and family to gather.
Too many of us have accumulated grief and loss that has had nowhere to go. Too many lives went away quietly, with no celebration of what they left behind. Too many of us haven’t been able to support each other as we would want to.
Remembrance Day has shown us how to come together to remember many. Here’s hoping that one day soon we have a chance to gather together to grieve and celebrate those who died during COVID as well.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.