Lament. An essay by Lynn Caldwell

Many other thoughts circled as I was working on a new blog post about COVID-so-far in our house; in the end, I didn’t feel it was right to publish it without first acknowledging these questions which I have at best part-answers for:

The virus will not hit all of us the same. It’s likely that if you are reading this, you probably have a pretty good place to shelter and decent resources (physical, emotional, financial) — I know I do. There are parts of the world and parts of this city that will feel the effects right to the core of their communities: they will be ravaged.

And for all of us, everywhere: how will we as people, as families, nations, an entire world, grieve for all that we will lose? Of course there are the lives lost already and to come, but also jobs, health, time, relationships, possibilities, trust, financial security, opportunities, hope.

In Ireland we surround each other in times of death; wakes and funerals are a huge part of the individual and collective grieving process. I can’t imagine now how it must be for anyone to be burying a loved one now no matter the cause of death. The memories of all those at my father’s funeral who stayed to give hugs and show their love and the huge gathering of family at the house on Kennedy Street (where the fourth generation played sardines with 14 of them in the cupboard under the stairs) are still a solace and joy to me now. How will we learn to give comfort from afar; can we learn to receive it from afar?

Will we know how to truly, keenly lament?

Will we be able to carry each other’s burdens?


Lynn Caldwell’s work is forthcoming in Crosswinds Poetry Journal and has been published in Dedalus Press’s anthology WRITING HOME; The Irish Times for March 2019’s Hennessy New Irish Writing Award; Cassandra Voices; and The Antigonish Review, and has featured on Irish radio’s Sunday Miscellany. Lynn was a runner up in Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Award 2017 and blogs here.

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