Since the pandemic began, thousands have died alone and away from their families in Miami-Dade County. In “Saying Goodbye: An Offering of Gratitude,” Cortada invites viewers to reenact his ritualistic performance and bring closure to the passing of loved ones who died in isolation. Participants imagine what they would have said to their loved ones and what their loved ones would have said to them if they had been able to be by their bedside.


Walk outside at the appropriate hour (at sunrise, noon, sunset, or the time the person who you love was pronounced dead due to complications from COVID-19). Stop at the location you’ve designated to perform this ritual. Close your eyes.

Face East:
• Open your eyes.
• Take one deep breath.
• Put your left hand on your heart and think of one loving memory you shared with that person.
• With your right hand blow a kiss in the air.
• Place both hands down.

Face them:
• Turn your body to the direction of the place where your loved one died alone due to complications from COVID-19.
• Take two deep breaths.
• Place both hands over your heart.
• Take your right hand and move it from your heart out in the direction of your loved one as you begin to say the words you would have told them had you been by their side.
• Take three deep breaths.
• Take your left hand from your heart and reach out to your outstretched hand.
• Bring both hands back to your heart as you think of the words your loved one would have told you had they been in front of you.
• Place both hands down.

Face South:
• Take one deep breath.
• Place both hands on the sides of your head.
• Think how their life was better because you were in it.
• Put both hands down.
• Close your eyes and say the words. “You are welcome.”

Face North:
• Take two deep breaths.
• Place both hands outstretched in front of you.
• Think of how your life was better because this person lived.
• Put your hands down.
• Bow down.

Face West:
• Take one deep breath.
• Look up to the sky and put your left hand over your heart.
• Close your eyes.
• Speak their name.
• Open your eyes, and as you look up to the sky and say the words “Thank you.”
• With your right hand blow a kiss in the air and wave goodbye.
• Bring both hands down to your heart.
• Take one last deep breath.
• Place your hands down.
• Walk back inside.

Xavier Cortada, “Memory Box Monument: Key Biscayne (rendering),” 2022.