This eulogy was offered by the Revs. Damaris Whittaker and Josh Pawelek as part of the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care‘s March 13th memorial service for all those who’ve lost their lives because they didn’t have quality, affordable, accessible health care. The service took place outside the entrance to the room where the Sustinet Cabinet was meeting.
Friends, we gather here this morning to remember and honor and grieve for the many victims of Connecticut’s broken health care system. We come with deep sadness and grief in our hearts.
We come with moral outrage that such brokenness has been allowed to persist for so long. We come with moral courage to demand that those with the power and authority to heal this brokenness dedicate themselves to the work of healing.
We remember and honor friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and strangers who lost their lives or faced enormous and unnecessary struggles in their lives because they didn’t have quality, affordable, accessible health care.
We remember mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and even children who lost their lives or faced enormous and unnecessary struggles in their lives because they didn’t have quality, affordable, accessible health care.
We remember people who worked hard at their jobs—sometimes at two or three jobs—but who lost their lives or faced enormous and unnecessary struggles in their lives, because their employer didn’t offer health insurance, usually because it was too expensive.
Or because the insurance their employer did offer covered so little, or the deductible payment was so high, that they weren’t able to seek medical care until it was too late.
So often they waited to seek care because they were afraid—afraid that the cost would be too high to pay, afraid that it would force them to make decisions between putting food on the table or paying their medical bills, afraid that the medical professionals would not take them seriously because they were not insured properly.
And so they waited, and they prayed that their condition would improve on its own. They prayed that they would be able to avoid bankruptcy. They prayed that they could continue to work. They prayed for an end to the suffering. They cried when they knew we were not looking. They were so proud, but so afraid. And in the end, waiting proved futile. The system is broken.
We remember and honor people of all racial and cultural identities—Hispanic, Black, Asian, Native American, White, Arab, Pacific Islander, biracial, multiracial—people who people who had aspirations for themselves and their children; people who wanted to see their children graduate from high school and college, who wanted to dance at their children’s weddings, who wanted to hold their grandchildren in their arms, who wanted to grow old with their husband or wife, who wanted to achieve something of worth with their life, who wanted to leave something of worth to their children and grandchildren. But for the brokenness in our health care system, they would be with us today.
We remember and honor people of all faiths, who wanted to live decent, productive lives; who wanted to love their God and respond to their God’s call in their hearts; who expected to give back to their congregations and their communities much more than they would ever receive. But for the brokenness in the system, they would be with us today.
As we remember them, as we grieve their loss, let us honor them this morning by asking and, yes, demanding, that those with the power and authority to heal the brokenness in our system do so, that they not wait, that they not forget those who’ve lost their lives, that they no forget the families and friends whose lives they touched and who miss them deeply.