Just over a week ago we had a National Day of Reflection to remember the 143,259 people who have died of Covid-19 in the UK. Global deaths now exceed 2.8 million people. Just a take a moment and let those numbers sink in.
2.8 million mums, dads, grandmas, grandpas, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Each one of those deaths creating a tidal-wave that hits a community of people. Each family crying out in anguish as their loved one departs this life. As a person who has experienced grief there is no easy way through it. It is a case of letting the wave carry you until eventually you come to a place of unfamiliar rest and then surveying your new landscape. The wave may carry you to a familiar place or to a place that you have never seen before, either way it is a new place as you have been changed by the experience of loss. You see through eyes that have been through the trauma of grief. Never again able to look at the world in the same way.
And so it feels somewhat fitting that on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday (the day when Christians remember the death of Christ) shielding is lifted. The most vulnerable have carried a high cost this year – care homes have experienced a disproportionately high rate of Covid-19 related deaths and people who are clinically vulnerable have experienced more death than others. Alongside that there is the death of relationship, death of community, death of place, death of opportunity, death of hopes as the most vulnerable remained isolated from family and friends whilst the rest were stepping out into the new normal.
Now that tidal wave of grief lands those people on another beach, not the same beach that those of us who were not shielding have been on, but perhaps one that is just along the coast. Now it’s time to walk to meet one another, to embrace and sit down around a beach fire and listen to one another’s experience. We bring together the wisdom and lived experience of those who have been isolating with those whose experience has been different. No two experiences of grief are the same and no two experiences of Covid-19 are the same, and so deep listening is central to understanding the experience of the other. Our landscape and view will changes once again through the experience of listening to one another. We will see in greater detail, the colours will be brighter and the darkness will be darker as we see a new landscape.
Tomorrow is Good Friday and my mind turns to another landscape marked by grief. The landscape of Golgotha – the place of the cross – the place where Jesus was crucified. When he died on the cross his mother was there, his friends were there, soldiers stood at the foot of the cross and criminals died alongside him beside him. Different people experienced his death in different ways and each experience changed them profoundly. But most mysteriously Divinity was there too experiencing death, experiencing the isolation of grief as the Trinitarian community fractured and was changed forever. The eyes of the Divine became glazed with the tears of grief.