JJ's Muse

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Covid Chronicles

When Errr on the Side of Caution had erred to Far – 28th October 2020

I recently attended the funeral of a Beautiful Elder. In line with covid restrictions the number of people who could attend was limited. I felt blessed and honoured to have been able to be a part of the mandated 30 people.

Following the social distanced service, we made our way to the cemetery. My first surprise was to see the security guard padlocking the previously open gate. Even though the car in front / that we had been following (officiating minister) was obviously wanting to drive in. The security guard also appeared to not be inclined to engage with any query as to what was happening. But to be fair, as we were one car behind, I wasn’t best placed to say for sure if an explanation was given.

Shortly after, the funeral car arrived; and at the sight of this the security guard unlocked the gate. Then preceded to check the number of occupants of each car in the convey. Fair enough, protocols and all that. – I was no.14

Finally at the graveside, things happened very swiftly. If you are unaware, these days the body/coffin is lowered into the ground straight away. In previous times this wouldn’t have happened until last words words by the minister, and depending on your culture/tradition any singing etc.

Honestly, it all felt very rushed, and not befitting of the departed or honouring of the family’s final opportunity to say farewell, but with current covid restrictions one works the best you can with what one has got right. And once the grave was filled, the family would have more time to do what they needed to. 

Or so I thought…

The minister informed us that we had to now leave the cemetery while the grave was filled, and then we could come back and lay flowers.

Really? This had me both surprised and a bit put out. I had fully expected that we would need to move a sensible distance away from the grave, as had experienced this at my Uncle’s funeral in April. 

But to have to leave the cemetery and go the other side of those padlocked gates again. No. I wasn’t expecting, neither understood the need for that. I was also puzzled by the fact that there wasn’t even any earth ready and prepared by the graveside.

Another attendee inquired whether it was sufficient for us to wait in our cars, the response seemed to be a yes. Though not necessarily a confident one. 

So some exited, some stayed. – In parked cars that were over 10 meters away from the grave. 

Over 10 mins passed before any sign of anybody potentially responsible for filling the grave appeared. Another few minutes passed before a pick-up truck with–I assumed–the missing earth arrived. It was at this point that we did in fact, have to leave the cemetery.  

Cue padlocked gate, some more misinformation, and eventually us leaving.

The family had had to leave without even getting to place the few allowed floral arrangements of ‘Mum’ and ‘Nan’ etc. on the grave. My understanding is that the hired funeral cars were only available to them for a set time, and so they needed to go.

In these new normal times, I understand the need for protocols and have been a proponent of erring on the side of caution from before much of the world went on lockdown. But this experience seems like restrictions gone mad. As I can find no rationale for why we had to leave the cemetery. Especially as it meant that the family–most especially–didn’t get to say their final farewell. 

One might argue that they can always come back on another day. However, a significant part of a funeral–-burial or cremation–is that the bereaved can participate in the ritual rite of passage. Which for some is an important part of accepting that their loved one has gone. I say this in the full knowledge that grief doesn’t really end. However, from my personal experience and knowledge, the homegoing service is a significant marker in that process. If it is a burial, it concludes with the filled-in grave, flowers placed, and any last acts or responses before having to leave and return to your respective homes. 

Part of this process was robbed, and every part of my being feels this was not and isn’t right. 

The Beginnings of Life in Self-isolation (20-22 March)

“No more covid.”

Not a prayer, although it is also my prayer. In this instance, it is a declaration or desperate plea, that I intend to have a covid free day. The multiple covid related tabs in the browser, have been relegated to just the one. The risk assessment is done and was sent at 3 pm. A sandwich of farewells two mornings in a row; the filling synchronised Netflix viewing and pizza consumption, with a cousin in Qatar.

Bliss… The needed balm to a top-heavy week.

I have known for a while that I don’t like being a leader, and have previously wondered why anyone would want to lead a country. However, if I was ever in doubt, this covid symphony of this week would have confirmed it. This hat, I would happily surrender to another.

The navigating of feelings, filtering of information, facilitating of discussions, filling out of forms, fielding and forwarding messages, and the beats go on and on… But a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s got do, right.

Sometimes one just has to suck it up and get on with it. Do your part. Lean in, and press on… I’m grateful for the grace given to get through the week.

Happy Weekend!


I braved it on the bike this morning. The ‘on yer bike!’ alarm that goes off at 06.50 3 times a week, was ignored 3 times. To be fair, I’m watching whatever is troubling my leg. God knows I don’t want to have any reason to go to the hospital right now!

A covid consumed week meant many things got ignored or put on the back burner. WhatsApp messages unanswered, unplugged from SM; my customary morning hour catch-up a thing of the recent past.

I made myself step away from the airline website. Closing – all bar one – of the multiple tabs it opened. In their struggle to survive, their ever-changing information is making my desire for a refund a struggle. There’s still time. I have up until 3 days before I’m due to fly. I conserved my headspace for what I can achieve now.

With a limited few hours to order something for Mother’s Day, I made it. Courtesy of the 7-hour time difference and a mid-week heads up of the day approaching. Courtesy of a cousin’s kind offer to stand in the gap on this occasion. I also found out that tulips generally mean perfect love.

You know, I didn’t even acknowledge my cousin’s kind offer. Offered because she knew covid related things had taken most of my focus. It was one of the many messages seen on the locked screen and then dissolved into the chat. Replaced by more messages and a funny video or two.

“Happy Sunday!” – As they say here.

Today I’ll have breakfast first. When will I stop deluding myself?
Church in bed. Church in 40 minutes! Another service at 10, why not? Church crawl it is. Though I’m not sure 2 services can equate to a crawl.

I made it half-way through Oti & Marcus’ salsa fun dance. Acceptance, for now such ‘1,2,3’ moves may not be the one for my leg.

A cup of fruit, while on an unplanned call with a mentee. Which prompted another unplanned call to another mentee/adopted little sister. I wanted to connect them, as they are on a similar journey. They could learn from and encourage one another.

As the day went on, uncertainty about what I wanted to eat, and what I wanted to watch. I sent out some messages, including the Words for today.
I felt rather tired. Maybe it is the rush and subconscious output of the week both wearing off and settling in.

Video called my Mum. She appreciated the tulips, and I hear they put a big smile on her face. I spoke briefly to my Dad, laughed out loud (without stopping) at some messages from my brother.

What did I eat today? I remember refraining from ordering a burger… Ooo, breakfast, or rather a late lunch was a leftover scone from Saturday’s farewell. Accompanied by a nutritious museli-granola combo, and Kopi Aroma coffee goodness.

Prepped for tomorrow, but there are some unknown variables. I require input from others before I can fully get my head around what will now be a virtual team retreat.

Drifting off on the sofa. Tomorrow is week 2 of WFH. Our literal reality, blurring with virtual reality. Tomorrow we will zoom our way through.

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