COVID has taken a second family elder. Two otherwise unrelated cases spread across different states, but they have given me an understanding of how the virus has changed the meaning of hospice. God willing, you’ll not need to know this, but forewarned is forearmed.
Hospice during COVID means an uncle dying alone, surrounded by strangers who are unseen behind personal protective gear.
Hospice during COVID means children, who have not seen their parents for four months to protect them from the virus, saying goodbye through the reinforced glass of a hospital room door.
Hospice during COVID means a grieving wife self-quarantines from the rest of her family at home. She may be a carrier, and the love that she holds for the living overrides her own needs.
Hospice used to be a time to gather, to comfort, to focus on quality of life. With COVID, that becomes a luxury we can no longer afford.
We still gather, but we do so virtually. We text, we email, we call, we zoom, we connect in every way but the one we want most. And that’s it.
Then, in between checking on others, we read the news. We look for signs that the virus is starting to be contained. We look for hope that we won’t lose anyone else in such an impersonal way. But that’s not what the news says. The news reports a person died of COVID-19 in your city. Your person. The news does not give a name, but as you read the headline, your heart supplies the name in real-time.
Then, the news talks about the local mega-church opening its doors for full-capacity services. The quotes in the article make it clear that it’s a matter of politics for the church, of not being pushed around for secular reasons. The news then goes to the restaurants defying orders to close dining rooms, stating that the economics of take-out food alone won’t allow them to survive. As you read the news, your heart supplies several reasons for our public spaces to shut down, several names of the PEOPLE you need to survive. Because really, you don’t know if you can take another pandemic hospice.