On December 20, 2020 at 2pm EST a pre-recorded community ceremony streamed and is now available on youtube at https://youtu.be/sUXoB6_mIM0. The ceremony, Grieving America (2020) was created by Sally Brucker and April Miller, both certified Life-Cycle Celebrants, in response to the need for a collective way to mourn the deaths of fellow Americans to COVID-19.
America is losing lives to COVID-19 at an unprecedented number, often hard to fathom as they rise now to over 300,000+. The victims often die in most difficult circumstances, with no loved ones to comfort them or say goodbye. Family members and friends are often left to grieve alone, complicating and stifling their grieving process. Miller and Brucker acknowledge this and offer comfort and support. In doing so, we can acknowledge our own helplessness and alienation and begin to come together to heal as a Nation and brace ourselves for what lies ahead.
Moved by visiting the art installation, “In America How could this happen…” by Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg in Washington, D.C., and wanting to draw others to visit this space, it seemed right to create a public ceremony for the entire country. Miller and Brucker set out to use technology to offer a community ceremony for everyone to remember, to speak, to sing and to be silent, as in a funeral. As America grieves, a collective ceremony would have a way of taking the broken fragments within and creating a language that transcends barriers and differences.
Sally Brucker and April Miller brought together local poets and members of an online Facebook grief group who generously shared their work and stories. Local videographer Bryant Strange filmed and edited the montage of readings, music, poetry, and images to create this recorded community ceremony offering for all.
Brucker and Miller hope that those watching this will experience a strong connection to their loved ones lost to COVID-19. They also hope that it will bring their lived experiences to the light and offer comfort.
For those not actively mourning the death of a loved one, they hope that this will create a connection, and collective mourning for beloved fellow Americans and for countless others around the world.