5 Helpful Ideas for Funeral and Memorial Planning During COVID-19
Published on January 26, 2021
The effects of COVID-19 on social events have been unprecedented and devastating in many ways. Before the pandemic, funerals and memorial events were moments to come together, to support one another through our presence, hugs, and heartfelt expressions. In many ways, the presence of others is essential in the grieving and healing process. But this is not possible for many at this time.
In this COVID-19 environment, with all of its restrictions on our ability to gather together, families and funeral professionals must come up with innovative and appropriate ways to remember and honor their departed loved ones. Some of these innovations can soothe the void that can be created by not being able to physically be with all of our loved ones. We have attempted to bring together some of these ideas to help you if you are in the position of planning or assisting with a funeral or memorial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Transition to Online Services
The biggest change in funeral planning during COVID-19 has been the shift from large in-person gatherings to online services. This involves livestreaming the event via an online video conferencing platform, such as Zoom, Facebook Live or YouTube. Apps, such as FaceTime and Zoom have been used for more intimate settings, and are very effective.
The transition to online funeral and memorial services has been necessitated by restrictions on social gatherings exceeding a certain number of people, while in other cases they are geared towards keeping the elderly safe. Some families have chosen to use online conferencing services during the planning stages as well as a way to reduce unnecessary face-to-face interactions and to prevent the risk of transmission between them and funeral service workers.
2. Virtual Interactions
Interactions between family and friends often extend beyond the funeral service. During these times when physical connections are not possible, families are increasingly looking to technology to assist. Examples of virtual post-service events include scheduled online receptions, where attendees give speeches to commemorate and honor the one who has passed and to comfort the family. Playing a few of our loved one’s favorite songs can also add a special touch.
Some families go further to make these virtual meetings more unique and memorable by sending out personalized remembrance t-shirts to participants to wear during the event, just as they would at some in-person events.
3. Schedule In-Person Events for Later
Let's face it, no matter how convenient online services and commemorative events are, they simply cannot compare to in-person services, which are far more intimate. As such, many families use virtual events at this time, while still making plans for an in-person ceremony at a later date. Some have considered planning for such an in-person event one year out - when conditions will hopefully be much better.
According to many funeral service professionals, this approach is far easier on the bereaving families as it gives them time to mourn, more beyond their grief, and plan calmly. It also allows relatives and friends who may be far away to make attendance plans far in advance, as opposed to having to do it with only a few days’ notice.
4. Use Creative Ways to Honor our Loved Ones
In the traditional sense, the most common way of honoring a person who has passed away would be to place flowers on their grave, or send flowers to their home. But under the current circumstances, families and friends may have to be more creative. Some common and creative ways to honor our loved ones who have passed in the post-COVID-19 world include:
- Planting a tree in their memory
- Donating to their favorite charity in their name
- Learning and practicing their favorite hobby or skill
- Create a Online Tribute Site, featuring their photos and invite others to post tributes
- Writing down, or making video recordings of, your favorite memories together
While doing these things, families can use online platforms to connect and share their personal experiences and share with one another their memorialization ideas.
5. Participate in Shared Experiences
Losing a loved one is psychologically draining and every member of the family needs all the support and encouragement they can get. In the absence of physical touch - hugs, words of encouragement, etc., the emotional wounds can begin to heal by creating intimate shared experiences with friends and other family members.
These don't have to be anything fancy. Simple acts, such as a thoughtful text message, scanned handwritten letters, and personalized cards can be tremendously helpful.
You can also collaborate with close family members for a photo/video collection and compilation project that allows you to remember your loved one in this special way. The effort put into the project, and the shared moments, will not only help in getting over the loss, but also help participants develop even closer bonds.
Published on January 26, 2021