In the gospel reading this week you will hear the words: “I will not leave you orphaned.”
The first image of orphan that generally comes to mind is a child without parents. Throughout scripture we find directives concerning the care of widows and orphans. Orphaned may also be defined as alone or without guidance, without support.
These are tumultuous times especially for children as families exposed to the coronavirus experience challenges at hospitals where health-care workers must separate parents from children because both are at risk for contagion. Hospitals can be frightening places for anyone especially the young, so when taken away from those who give them security and comfort it can be traumatic.
In an April article in the Washington Post by Doctors Shaw, Yun, and Patel I read: “Although much has yet to be learned about covid-19, the disease’s psychological impact on patients and their relatives is almost certain to be severe. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, parents and children experienced varying degrees of depression and anxiety as a result of family separation and hospital isolation policies implemented to contain disease spread. The developing neurological pathways in children are particularly susceptible to such stressors; long-term behavioral and psychological issues can result. Failure to provide effective family-centered care options could exacerbate such consequences.”
The above paragraph doesn’t even begin to consider the possibility of permanent separation from parents because of death. The reality of children being orphaned as a result of the pandemic is on the rise. I can’t imagine the long-term implications. Children are yet another reason to stay the course and follow the physical distancing, mask wearing, stay at home directives. If not for yourself, do it for them.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, the burdens of separation that the current pandemic is causing are extremely painful for many especially children. You have promised to be with us always and yet for children that is such an abstract concept when faced with the loss of a parent or other close relative. Help us all to learn that in the communion of your holy Church you are always near and that we are ever one in you; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier