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Goodbye Really Means God Loves You and So Do I. May 1, 2020

Published: April 30, 2020

As the country battles the relentlessly, treacherous Covid 19 virus, funeral home staff--- though not thought of as front-line workers---find themselves at the rear end of this deadly battle ground. Everyone is well aware of the grim data that has targeted Suffolk County as the latest hot spot in New York, the epicenter of the virus. With 33,935 confirmed novel Corona virus cases and 1,155 deaths.1 The ruthless way in which this virus has attacked have caused loved ones to be rushed into emergency rooms or quarantined in nursing homes wrested from our arms and view. For far too many families, it has become the last memory of a loved one’s physical presence.

J.F. Goode Funeral Home has joined the brigade of licensed funeral homes in the county called upon to manage the overwhelming number of families seeking assistance in making funeral arrangements for their loved ones. However, unlike the traditional proceedings that families have known and come to expect in making such arrangements, this pandemic has turned tradition upside down. Severe restrictions on the number of family members that can participate along with strict guidelines regarding funeral proceedings that have been imposed by the Center for Disease Control and State health regulators in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus, have robbed families of the traditional rituals of laying their loved ones to rest.

One of the things we continually hear from bereaved families is that they did not have a chance to be with their loved ones during their transition and were not able to say a final goodbye. This is understandably a heart wrenching time for all families and as professionals in the field it is not something that we take lightly. It does, however, afford us an opportunity to offer some level of solace and perhaps a reminder to both those who have lost loved ones to this wretched disease as well as to those of us who are still sequestered in our homes awaiting the “all clear” call.

Let’s consider the origin of the word “goodbye”, it actually came into use in the English language in the late 1500’s. It is an abbreviated version of the saying, “God be with Ye.”2 It serves as a spiritual greeting or farewell in much the same way that many religions’ practice with such familiar sayings like “Vaya con Dios” or “As-salaam ʿalaykum”. The intent being that the presence and blessings of God/Jesus/Allah/Jehovah/Yaweh are being wished for you wherever you go. For those who find comfort in their faith know that the most Supreme is ever present and would not forsake a loved one in their final hour. It’s a love that transcends any separation this pandemic imposes. It is omnipresent. As the Bible reminds us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

While having faith is a wonderful source of comfort for many, it still may not fully enable one to put aside the deep regret and possibly even the guilt that one might feel having not been there when a loved one took their last breath. It will undoubtedly take time to put these feelings aside and we would encourage you to seek grief counseling to work through them. (Click here for Resources). Just as importantly, for all of us who are still here stealing against this stealth enemy, it is hoped that we have had time to reflect on just how fragile life can be. There is no time for harsh words or petty conflicts that sometime creep into our lives. Let the people who are important in your life know every day how much you care in words and deeds. If there is distance between you, take the time to call or even video chat so that you may look upon each other’s smiling faces. It is the practice in our family that every time we say goodbye to each other that we also say “I love you”. It’s our acknowledgement that tomorrow is not promised and if it should come to pass that tomorrow does not come for either one of us, we want our last memory between us to be one of a loving goodbye ...

1. 19-case-update-april-30-2020-3:21-pm

2. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020. V

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