A Graveside Service Without Hugs
Yesterday, I had a first as a pastor – a small family-only graveside funeral without hugs or even handshakes.
It was already a wet and chilly day, so maintaining our physical distance made it feel a little chillier.
The funeral home placed COVID-19 pamphlets on every chair, spaced out evenly in the viewing area.
We fiddled with our smartphones as we waited in silence.
Touch is important in a time of grief. Sure, it’s not the only way to grieve or always appropriate, but there is something about being together as human beings, drawing close to the presence of God and the comforting connection in each other. We are frail creatures. Life can be short. Funerals help us remember that we are not so different from each other.
In those sacred gatherings, when we can be thankful for life, when we consider the complexity of our relationships, when we confront pain and regret, when we are reminded that the people we love (or struggle to love) will not be with us always, we need, often, a little touch.
So, it was difficult as a pastor to offer comforting words and to be present in a time of grief and yet not be able to take the hand of a family member and pass on a little connective warmth on such a chilly day.
Maybe it was difficult because I need that touch as much as others might need it too.