A Year of Negotiating Grief | Sojourners

A Year of Negotiating Grief

Lent is an invitation to converse with grief in all its expressions.
Illustration of a face exhaling a purple puff of air.
Illustration by Michael George Haddad

THE OTHER DAY, during a Zoom call with my younger sister, I said something that sounded harsh—maybe even inappropriate. “You know, there’s a part of me that is honestly glad Mom isn’t alive during this pandemic.” She was quiet for a moment, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

With untreated COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and her radical hospitality, my mom would not have listened to public health officials’ guidance on the coronavirus. She would have visited her friends to check on them, taken meals to elderly neighbors, and watched over her grandchildren, all while smoking half a pack a day.

Mama, strong and resilient for more than 60 years, would have thought herself impervious. So, Mama would have caught the virus. And, because she and Daddy were tied at the hip, she would have passed it on to him. Daddy, with his emphysema, high blood pressure, a heart that endured two strokes, and a penchant for salty, fatty foods, is definitely vulnerable to COVID-19.

But Mama died from a sudden heart attack in February 2019. Daddy is at home during this global pandemic. Our brother cares for him and a nurse checks in. Daddy is safer and Mama is no longer suffering. We, their children, don’t have to navigate the heartbreak of losing parents during a global pandemic, of not being able to say goodbye properly.

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The cover of Sojourners' March 2021 issue features lines of cars at a food bank
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