‘Death at an online funeral’

Thursday June 24th: John the Baptist, instrument of God’s mercy
June 24, 2021
A lighthouse in a storm
June 24, 2021

‘Death at an online funeral’

By Camille Mc Milan Rambharat

Are we there yet? This lockdown feels like a locked-in, five-year term mortgage.

There’s nothing more sad and traumatic than having to attend online funeral services. It’s the one thing I’ve struggled with other than isolation.

Unfortunately, we have busy lives and long working hours, and sadly for some, funerals are sometimes the only must-attend family get-togethers. That was the time and place to meet new cousins, aunties, uncles while saying goodbyes to the dearly departed. It was the place to listen to the elders spill the beans on our “I was never rude to my parents”, and the other untruths we use to guilt our young people and our own children, believe maybe something is wrong with them during those growing pains years.

When my eldest brother passed suddenly, the sting of death felt like pain on steroids jolting my heart. The longing to gather with loved ones in person to hold each other always felt spiritual to me. He was the only sibling whose ‘navel string’ was buried in Trinidad and had no desire to venture out for a ‘better life’ like his three siblings who left the home of our birth in the eighties—not because we loved Trinidad and Tobago any less than he did.

There was added pain of not having at least one sibling to fly in to support and comfort our recently widowed mother as she learned of the passing of her first born. The soul-piercing screams of my niece and god-daughter’s voice from approximately 8,000 kilometres away, trying to understand what her muffled cries were saying, while holding my breath with a racing heart and mind decoding her “Oh God, aunty come home please I need you” only left me feeling helpless, but strong for her. Zero. That was the chance of getting home in a minute-to fall apart after each of the numerous calls.

Our loved ones deserve better send offs. It would have been easier for me to walk on water than to click on a link and sit in front of my desktop to watch some overrated reality show. I checked out by turning every device off and turning my pink, fake leather Bible open and laid it on my chest to embrace the love and comfort of the Lord’s words. His promise was so comforting. I slept for approximately 9 hours to escape this “new thing”!

As the passing of our loved ones comes fast and furious without mercy, my coping skills for this new trend was to sleep it off and speak little about it. From my aunt’s husband’s sudden passing, the Honourable Frankie Khan’s live feed, the amazing, beautiful and lovely Joycelyn’s Borden—all were met with the same sense of wanting to honour them by showing up the old-fashioned way. But I couldn’t.

What about you? How have you been coping with the passing of loved ones? Am I the only one who feels that funerals should remain traditional as a form of paying respect to the dearly departed? Even if it’s for selfish reasons.