Wall Street Journal: Broomall Family, Like Many Others, Finally Gather to Honor Lost Relative

David Bjorkgren
Rona with the Hamilton family on vacation.
Image via KRisten Hamilton.
The Hamilton family, with Chris’s mother, Rona, while on vacation.

A Broomall family: Chris Hamilton, his wife Kristin and their three daughters, finally held a memorial service for Chris’ mother, Rona, who died last year, early into the pandemic lockdown.

 With restrictions now easing, families who lost relatives in 2020 are mourning together at delayed services, writes Clare Ansberry for the Wall Street Journal.

The service was held in the yard of their home on Rona’s April 23 birthday. Chairs were set out for 20 relatives and close friends.  The girls, 9,7, and 6 wrote and read poems. The theme was gardening with Nana.

Chris Hamilton delivered a eulogy he had 13 months to plan. He wanted to honor his mother’s life but couldn’t because of the pandemic.

 “The guilt and weight on my shoulders for the last year has been lifted,” he says.

Nationwide, some are remembering the person they lost on their birthday, or on the one-year anniversary of their death.

Ceremonies are happening in parks, yards and cemeteries.

Such rituals allow people to share pent-up grief, according to David Kessler, who has written six books about grief.

For the passing year, the Hamiltons remembered Rona with private rituals, baking cookies from Rona’s recipes, making a memory board.

With vaccines, warmer weather, and Rona’s approaching birthday, the time seemed right for the service.

Rona’s love for gardening was part of the memorial, as guests planted wildflowers in the  yard.

Celebrant Beth Palubinsky says the year between Rona’s death and the memorial gave the family a chance to think about how to celebrate her life.

“Grief softens a bit,” she says.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal about delayed funerals from the pandemic.