On March 25, 2021, the residents and staff of St. Joseph’s came together to remember the residents that we all lost over the last year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. All in attendance were a bit apprehensive and solemn because of the unspeakable tragedy that was suffered. While the idea behind the gathering was to celebrate those lost, the feelings of sadness and anger could not be shaken. Fr. Paul shared prayers and his thoughts. Beautiful music was played and beautiful words were sung. Sr. Elizabeth shared a speech about the events that unfolded on March 25, 2020 and in the following days, weeks, months. It is safe to say that no one in attendance at the memorial thought the pandemic would carry on as long as it did.
But the tragic events have been a life lesson and remind everyone to be grateful for what they have, to focus on compassion, love, and healing, and to let go of the anger. The names of the residents that were lost were read for all to hear. Hearing the names, said one after another, really struck a chord for so many. We remember individually the residents we lost at various times but to hear all of their names in a short period of time was moving. The event concluded with closing prayers from Fr. Paul, and the staff and residents spent time together discussing their friends and loved ones lost over some sweet desserts. It was truly an important day for the St. Joseph’s community to come together on the exact day one year after awful loss and unknown.
On April 24, 2021, the families of the residents lost over the last year to the COVID-19 pandemic were invited to the beautiful grounds of St. Joseph’s Senior Home to celebrate the lives of their beautiful loved ones. This celebration was similar in program to the first memorial held, but the hope behind it was to bring together the families and staff. The St. Joseph’s staff have not seen many of these families in a year when they used to see them every day! The opportunity to mourn freely and traditionally while bringing closure was also a hope and goal for the event. To see the families embracing the staff and sharing their thanks for everything St. Joseph’s did for them and their loved ones was spectacular. It was a beautiful sunny, blue-skied day, and we all know who to thank for that. Those we lost were present in spirit and could be felt all around. Families were invited to say a few words* about their loved ones, and the memories and stories that unfolded were amazing.
Many tears were shed, but many smiles and laughs were shared. The residents’ photos were displayed in the form of a memorial cards with candles and flowers. The families were encouraged to take these keepsakes home with them. Nothing can be done to bring back those lives lost, but coming together to listen to Fr. Paul, Sr. Zdzislawa, and the musical styling of Sr. Leila helped to let go of the unknown and anger. The residents, families, and staff of St. Joseph’s endured tremendous tragedy but to see the love, hope, and happiness that can still persevere was magical.
*To view the full celebration and listen to the families’ testimonials, please visit our Facebook page.
Stephanie Solomon, LSW