by Kate Lasko
It is not a group people clamor to join, yet once in you can’t imagine leaving. Love Lives On is a group where church members who have lost loved ones meet two or three times a month for support and fellowship. The original group is five-plus years strong. Last year, Pastor Ginny Cetuk and LaVerna reached out to those of us whose losses are newer and rawer to form a smaller group within the established Love Lives On. Here we share stories of loved ones and in sharing, help each other process loss, cope with loneliness, and, most importantly, understand that grief does not disappear.
When Covid-19 made it clear that our meetings had to occur virtually, I wondered how distance would affect the closeness that our meetings have nurtured. When life was “normal,” we met in the youth room, sat on comfortable couches and chairs, the only adornments a table supporting a simple wooden cross, a candle, a Bible, and always, a comforting touch at the ready. At 3 p.m. I logged on and one by one familiar faces appeared. Yes the voices were a little tinny and the vocal delays a bit challenging, but Zoom had its advantages. It brought Ginny and Chris from Florida and allowed all of us to meet LaVerna’s cat, who made a guest appearance.
Of course, the most valuable advantage of technology during this quarantine is the ability to connect with others and share joys, concerns, and coping strategies. Duncan finds joy in cooking, LaVerna rereads a favorite collection of essays on the seven last words of Christ, Ida walks her beloved golden retriever, someone else blasts Beethoven, another journals, and everyone makes phone calls, no texts. As often happens in our meetings, the talking meandered down a variety of paths, and too soon, Pastor Ginny moved us to a closing prayer. As she spoke, I realized my concerns about closeness in distance were silly; only the setting had changed; the people were the same. Ginny was so right: “Through Christ, miles don’t matter.”