Members of the Massachusetts General Hospital community paused for a moment of reflection Wednesday, as the hospital's chapel hosted a virtual service to acknowledge the loss and grief caused by COVID-19.

"We have carried our losses with us through these months, and this week we invite one another to share that," Reverend Erica Rose Long said at the service, which was broadcast on Zoom.

For the hospital’s spiritual care team, this has been a hard time. In March, as the surge of COVID-19 cases was beginning, the chaplains were sent home.

"That was really hard,” MGH Oncology Chaplain Reverend Donna Blagdan told GBH News. “It felt like abandoning the ship in a way."

The staff continued providing spiritual care by phone, but it wasn't the same. The hospital started letting some of the spiritual team back to work in person in the following weeks, but for the chaplains who were on-site, the necessary precautions added to the challenge of providing compassionate care.

"We're often, even before the pandemic, working with people who are having the worst moments of their lives,” said Blagdan. “And then on top of that, add the devastating isolation that a pandemic requires."

Long said nurses found creative ways to help. She remembered the son of one patient, who wanted his father to be given last rites. Priests weren't allowed in the patient's room, so a nurse used a walkie-talkie.

"And I said the prayer so the patient could hear it through the walkie-talkie while I was sitting on the other side of the glass,” she said. “And then I called the son to tell them that we had done that. And he was so angry. And I was like, you know, I'm angry, too. This isn't fair. This isn't how this should happen."

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