The cruelty of COVID

May 14, 2020
Barry Rosen


Like most people, I never expected Covid 19 to happen. And when it began, I never expected it to affect my wife Leslie and I in the way that it has.  

Being unable to go to a movie, live performance, or art gallery is certainly an inconvenience. However, it’s not the end of the world since one can do some of these things online.

On the other hand, being unable to visit your relative who is living in a hospital or care home is far more serious, and being separated from them feels like a cruel, inhuman blow.

But the cruelest aspect is what happens when your relative dies during Covid 19.

We had this experience recently when my wife Leslie lost her beloved father David Viner (zl).

David was a proud, hardworking scrap dealer and a devoted family man throughout his long life. He also had a very creative side which he expressed through poetry and art.

David and his wife Pearl were residents of Shalom Village, having moved there from Toronto in May, 2019.

Even though he did not die of Covid 19, David’s funeral and burial were very much dictated by Covid 19 requirements. Only immediate family members could attend. Physical distancing had to be maintained at the cemetery, denying us an opportunity to receive and provide hugs during a time of heightened emotion and sadness.

Jewish rites such as carrying the loved one’s coffin to the grave site, and placing earth on the casket were either severely constrained or not permitted at all. Beyond this, we had to complete the service within a thirty-minute time limit.

Sitting Shiva was also a lonely abnormal experience as mourners could not receive comfort from face-to-face visitors.

However, there were helpful things that took place in the midst of Covid 19. Many friends and extended family members offered words of consolation via phone and internet, and Temple Anshe Sholom provided an online Shiva Minyan, thanks to Rabbi Cohen and Cantor Baruch.

We are all feeling saddened by our loss, cheated of proper Jewish ritual by Covid 19, but comforted by the support of Shalom Village, our synagogue, family and friends.