EDITORIAL: Memorial service helps community heal from pandemic’s toll

A recent memorial service to remember the 167 city residents who died from COVID-19 put the emphasis on their individuality and gave support to mourning families and friends.

Since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, over 5 million deaths have been reported worldwide, over 754,000 in the United States, and 8,790 in Connecticut.

It can be difficult to comprehend those numbers and there’s often an element of depersonalization in statistical data. But at the Center Congregational Church on Sunday, a memorial service spoke to the humanity in those daunting numbers, drawing the focus to the local people who have died from COVID-19, as well as the loss to their families. The event was organized by the Meriden Clergy Association and featured speakers and live music.

 “Each number is a human life with a story of relationships and experiences,” said Doreen Bottone, the chaplain at MidState Medical Center, in an interview with the Record-Journal prior to the event. “They leave behind a legacy as well as their loved ones.”

A temporary memorial has been installed, a display with the outline of a large heart that surrounds 167 white flags is set on the church’s side lawn. The white flags represent city residents who have died as a result of the pandemic. 

A sometimes overlooked hardship of the pandemic’s toll was noted by Bottone. The grieving process has been complicated by the pandemic and related restrictions. “There’s been a lot of grieving that people have been doing, and it’s been very difficult due to the circumstances of the pandemic,” she said.

The pandemic generated a lot of activity, as well as confusion. Hectic activity around clinics and vaccinations, the sudden rules and regulations, the large and small disruptions and reorganizing of day-to-day life. All of this created a commotion that could drown out the quiet heartbreak underneath.

The pain of those who have lost a loved one from COVID often has been a neglected hurt. 

This simple and heartfelt memorial provided an important and comforting acknowledgement that went beyond the stark reality of numbers.

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