Funeral planning is difficult, even under “normal” circumstances. Not only are you facing the grief of losing a loved one, but you also must face difficult decisions to honor their legacy. The advent of COVID-19 has made this process even more overwhelming, with many people facing anxiety and fear about the situation. Deaths due to COVID-19 are often unexpected and sudden. Typical practices to honor our family members who have died have also changed dramatically with the pandemic.
Preparations for Funeral Planning
It’s important to plan a time to honor your loved one. But you also need to be proactive in reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. How can you appropriately grieve your loved one and honor cultural or religious traditions like sitting shiva or delivering home-cooked meals when these rituals aren’t safe right now?
There are other ways you can prepare for the funeral services and protect your loved ones at the same time. These solutions incorporate traditions while also respecting public health recommendations:
- Consider the Venue: If you would like to hold an in-person gathering, choose an outdoor location instead of meeting inside. For example, you might choose a graveside service as an alternative to a chapel meeting. Be sure to check local health department guidelines related to public gatherings.
- Health and Hygiene: Communicate with funeral attendees about health practices at the event. You might limit the number of attendees, request that everyone wear face masks, and instruct people not to hug or kiss. Also, provide handwashing stations and/or hand sanitizer.
- Virtual Participation: Offer alternative ways for high-risk or distant family members to participate. One good solution is to provide live streaming services for those who don’t feel comfortable coming to an in-person event. Or, you might choose a virtual-only service to ensure the lowest risk for all participants.
- Alternative Ways to Reach Out: Creative alternatives can be used instead of traditional funeral services. Instead of asking family and friends to travel from distant locations for an event, invite people to send written memories or photos of the loved one. Compile this information into an online memory book that can be shared. Or, set a coordinated time when everyone will hold a small vigil in their homes, with a lit candle and a small service in memory of the deceased.
Maintaining rituals can be an important part of finding healing in grief. A funeral director can guide you in the funeral planning process to honor your family traditions and protect against these health concerns at the same time. Our team at Windward Life Care is here to help you with the grieving process and to link you with the local resources you need. Reach out to learn more about your options.