by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, you already know anything goes on Sundays. I'm entirely off-track today and miles away from anything to do with business and marketing.
Yesterday Sheila and I experienced an event that was a first for us - a Zoom funeral. Kevin A. Gilligan is one of my dearest friends, even though we've only caught up to each other "live" once in all the years we've known each other. Kevin's brother John, who we never met, lost his fight to Cancer in November, and we were determined to be at the funeral. Had it not been for the pandemic, we would have been on a plane.
Well, at 11:00 AM PST yesterday, we joined 170+ people online in Zoom for one of the most touching events I've ever experienced. As friends and family spoke about John Francis Gilligan, we got to know not only him but his family, friends, and even my buddy Kevin.
Searching the Internet, I wanted to find some other opinions to explain better what I'm feeling. I found these comments in an article by Jeremy Smith on Slate:
I went to my first Zoom funeral a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea what to expect. That phrase—"Zoom funeral"—sounds so tacky and degrading. Who would come? How would it work? What would people wear? Would we be gathering respectfully to mourn a loved one, or slouch on our respective couches, alone together, arguing with other family members at home about how to position the phone, tablet, or laptop screen, with the cat mewling to be fed?
"A Zoom funeral feels … like a travesty," Violet Kim wrote for Future Tense in May. Until I went to one, I would have agreed. By the end of the ceremony, I had the opposite conclusion: A Zoom funeral, in many ways, might be better than an in-person one. Certainly, it was no less "real."
The article closed with:
The Zoom funeral left me feeling much more connected to everyone involved—and to everyone else who has lost a loved one during this pandemic. And it made me appreciate the ways technology like Zoom can make clearer our shared experiences—how it can literally show us all the other lives—and deaths—happening one "square" over.
I never met John F. Gilligan, but I now know more about him. I know about his remarkable career as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, his family, friends, and his unshakable belief in justice, commitment, love for his family and friends. I even feel like I know his laugh, which as each speaker referenced, I could hear it in my head.
There's a great quote from "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tennyson that I've quoted many times, "I am a part of all that I have met." Knowing more about John, I now know my good pal Kevin and his family just a little bit better because John was a part of each of them.
The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, but it hasn't slowed down our ability to relate to each other, to grieve and love together. And yesterday, to recognize the accomplishment of a man, father, husband, brother, and friend who will be sorely missed.
Wishing everybody a day when nothing gets in your way of letting those most special people in your life know how much you care. The pandemic only puts limits on physical closeness - not heart to heart.
Happy Sunday, Everybody!
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