Methodist Churches in Zimbabwe Offer Closure to Grieving Families Who Lost Loved Ones During Coronavirus Plague

Toendepi Samson Marikasi sobs with grief over the loss of his wife, Alice Marikasi, 87, and her sister, Ellah Muti, 90, during a special memorial service at St. James Hwedza United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. Pastor Daniel Luckson consoles him. United Methodist churches in Zimbabwe held services where people who lost loved ones during COVID-19 could gather to console one another and celebrate life — things they were unable to do during pandemic restrictions. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.
Toendepi Samson Marikasi sobs with grief over the loss of his wife, Alice Marikasi, 87, and her sister, Ellah Muti, 90, during a special memorial service at St. James Hwedza United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. Pastor Daniel Luckson consoles him. United Methodist churches in Zimbabwe held services where people who lost loved ones during COVID-19 could gather to console one another and celebrate life — things they were unable to do during pandemic restrictions. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

A somber and emotional atmosphere engulfed St. James Hwedza United Methodist Church as the Muti and Marikasi families and friends gathered for a memorial service and tombstone unveiling of two sisters deemed heroes of faith.

During the height of the pandemic, Alice Marikasi, 87, and Ellah Muti, 90, succumbed to COVID-19 two days apart.

When the women died, only a handful managed to attend the funerals. However, no body viewing, sendoff celebrations, sanctuary services or gatherings were allowed. Burial was done by strangers in hazmat suits, while family and church members stood nearby. The tragic experience failed to bring closure for bereaved families.

Toendepi Samson Marikasi, Alice’s husband, sobbed as he testified about how the sisters died. Amid heavy silence, many bowed heads and wept. Toendepi Marikasi’s cracking voice and quivering lips betrayed his struggle to keep his composure.

“Alice died while I was holding her,” he recalled. “I never moved out of our bedroom. I was with her throughout, despite the danger of contracting the disease. I announced the sad news to her big sister, Ellah, who was in the house and also not feeling well. Two days later, Ellah passed on.”

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Source: United Methodist News

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